When I walked into the bathroom with a pregnancy test in hand, I knew it was going to be positive. I wished it to be negative with all my might but it wouldn’t change.
Hoping the word “not” would appear in front of the word “pregnant”. I stood in the bathroom in complete shock. After catching my breath, I shouted for my husband, then fiancée, to rush upstairs. He came in, saw my face, read the test and burst out laughing.
Our wedding was only 4 months away and this was not how we’d planned to say “I do.’’
After the initial shock and surprise, we told our families and accepted our fate. I walked down the aisle proudly with a big belly so happy to embark on this journey with my husband.
We jumped head first into parenthood with doctor visits, prenatal classes, hospital tours and parenting books. If this was happening, we were going to do it right!
David Antonio was born on April 24, 2010 and made me a mom for the first time.
I didn’t know it then but he would change my life forever, challenging me in ways I didn’t even know were possible. The birth was fairly routine.
I went into labor at 39 weeks and was ready for a natural birth but David had the cord wrapped around his head and his heartrate started to drop.
It was handled so fast I didn’t know what hit me and before I even processed what was happening, I was on the operating table and he was out.
He was such an easy baby we thought he won the lottery. Slept through the night at 5 weeks, went to his own room at 3 months, was never fussy and could play alone for hours. It’s like we were sent a magical baby!
When David was around 15 months old our lives turned upside down once again and were found out we were expecting. I couldn’t believe it! Another baby?! I didn’t know how to feel at first but we loved David so much we knew we would be okay with another baby to love.
Around the same time we got the news of baby #2, my husband enlisted in the Army. I was supportive and knew this was the best choice for our family.
He was set to leave for Basic Training at the end of January 2012 and I was due to give birth in April. He was going to miss it but I prepared and reminded myself this was for the best. I lived with family and was surrounded by loved ones so I was never alone and thankfully had plenty of help with my toddler.
My second pregnancy was smooth sailing up until I was 34 weeks and started to feel extreme Braxton hicks. I had a doctor’s appointment the day I turned 35 weeks and they did an ultrasound that showed too much amniotic fluid. The nurse said not to worry about so I went home and planned to see them the following week.
The next day, I woke up feeling contractions.
My dad took my toddler to daycare and then rushed me to the hospital. With my doctor being out of town, my husband away and sitting alone in triage feeling so much pain, it was too much to handle.
The nurses gave me shots to stop the contractions and later the on-call doctor explained they weren’t contractions at all and I was not in labor. Since I had too much fluid the baby would move causing the fluid to move, and cause me pain, that read as contractions on the monitors. The doctors at the hospital met and decided that I needed to be delivered that night.
My first words were “but I’m not in labor.” They didn’t seem to care what I thought and went on with the procedure. I’d been in triage for over 8 hours and now they throw this curve ball; I froze and just went along with what they said.
Jacob Alexander was born via c-section later that night. The birth was traumatizing to say the least.
I knew something was wrong the moment I heard him cry gasping for air. The room got really quiet and serious. I started to panic and yelled out for someone to tell me what was happening. A nurse came over with Jacob in her arms; he had a mask on his face.
She told me he stopped breathing twice and they had to revive him.
The tears couldn’t stop flowing from my eyes. I saw my son for a second and they took him away to the NICU. My husband came home medically discharged from Basic Training the following Friday night. I like to believe he was sent back to me early because I needed him more than the military did.
Jacob spent 10 days in the NICU. The day we got to take him home was amazing.
I still suffer from the trauma of Jacob’s birth. Shortly after he was born, I was diagnosed with Severe Post-Partum Depression, Anxiety Disorder and PTSD.
It was hard and I blamed myself for a long time about the way everything happened. What if I’d spoken up and made the doctors change their mind? What if I’d made them wait a few more days? Would things have been different? Would he have been with healthier lungs? These questions still linger but I know now it wasn’t my fault and everything really was in God’s hands.
Jacob started to grow, thrive and we couldn’t be happier. David was now a big brother and turned 2 years old. Just when I was starting to feel a little better, we took another hit.
David started to show signs of regression in his development and after many evaluations and tests, he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Developmental Delay.
I don’t know if God really throws us only the things he knows we can handle, but I didn’t think I could handle much else. The diagnosis was hard to hear but we knew what he had to do.
He went from non-verbal and zero social skills to now 3 years later and he is the first one to say hi to anyone and strike up a conversation.
It’s challenging, heartbreaking, happy, sad and everything in between to raise a child with Autism; yet it’s so rewarding and inspiring.
I know now why God sent me these children. They make me a better person by being their mom. I never imagined I’d have two beautiful boys to raise but I’m so glad I do.
Being a mom is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I fail constantly, I struggle with PPD, PTSD and Anxiety daily, I am not perfect but I try so hard for these boys. They are here to help me just as much as I am here to help them.
How did you tell your family you were pregnant right before your wedding? And how did they take it?
We told them almost immediately. They were shocked but mostly supportive. Everyone was happy for a baby!
You mentioned your son’s birth was traumatizing. Describe it in three words and define?
Terrifying, paralyzing, and heart breaking. Terrifying because I was scared to death. I was afraid he’d die, afraid I’d die, and afraid it was all my fault. Literally and metaphorically paralyzing as I was laying on he operating table and couldn’t move but I also felt this intense feeling of uselessness. Heart breaking because when I heard him gasping for air I felt like I wouldn’t get through that moment.
Having anxiety, post partrum depression, and PTSD is all too common. What advice would you give to another mama?
Get help! I cannot stress this enough. I think there is a shame in feeling helpless and needing professional help but it’s important to take care of yourself or you and your child will suffer. I waited until after my second child to seek help and thankfully it wasn’t too late for me but it could have been. I was scared to admit I was not okay but if I didn’t see a doctor I knew I was capable of really hurting myself and the thought of not being around for my babies was enough to get me to the psychiatrist.
Lining up toys, obsession with tubes and touching certain things, poor eye contact, too much babbling and not enough language by age 2, and having strange reactions to sounds and people.
Describe a day with David that is living with autism?
David wakes up at 6:45am, comes to get me or his dad in our room and one of us will take him to the bathroom to help him brush his teeth and wash up. We then go to the kids’ room and wake up his brother and I help them get dressed for the day. We have breakfast around 7:15am and leave the house at 8:00am to drop David off at school. David is in a special needs Autism program and I pick him up at 1:45pm. We then come home and do homework, play for a bit and have dinner around 5:30pm. The boys are allowed iPad time after dinner for about an hour. Bath time is at 8:00pm and then it’s book time and bed time shortly after.
Our routine doesn’t change unless it’s a special occasion because it’s hard to get David to be flexible. Some days are easier than others and if he doesn’t have a meltdown, that day is a huge success!
Now that you have told the Mother Effin Truth, who do you want to nominate to tell their story as a mother? And why?
I nominate a fellow Instagram mommy and blogger Shirri Stringfellow.