“Is he your only child?” or “Are you going to have anymore?” are two of my least favorite questions and also the two I am asked most often. I honestly wish the people asking understood how hard those kind of questions are for many parents to answer and especially hard for a parent of a preemie. In any event, I usually just give a yes or no and leave it at that. There was far too much going on in my family’s life to think very hard about what my answers to those questions really were. But that was until earlier this year when there were a couple of agonizing days I thought I might actually be pregnant.
My period was late, and it’s never late. In fact, the last time it was late was when I was pregnant with my preemie, who is now four years old. While I was freaking out, I wasn’t exactly scared. It was more of the exciting kind of freaking out, which I did keep to myself. I even bought a home pregnancy test. I guess I hadn’t realized until that moment just how badly I wanted another child.
There are a few extremely valid reasons why my head was telling me to be scared: I am 41 years old. My first baby had to be delivered at 29 weeks due to severe preeclampsia and is still dealing with complications due to his premature birth. My husband and I are working three jobs just to make ends meet. Despite everything, my heart really wanted a damn plus sign to appear on that strip! But that did not happen.
The morning I was going to take the test, I woke up only to discover a delayed period, not a plus sign. I was crushed. And then I began to cry. Really hard. I cried because I felt so damn unworthy of another child. Considering I had done such a crappy job the first time around, I felt that God surely would never bless me with another child. All the pent up guilt I felt surrounding my son’s premature birth came crashing down on me. I irrationally believed that not having more children meant God was disappointed with me. But I now know I was wrong.
After I got a hold of myself and began my day, even managing to put a smile on my face so as not to concern my husband or my son, something wonderful happened that reminded me just how truly blessed I am.
I was dropping my preemie off at school, which still can be extremely stressful. I never know what to expect from this boy of mine, who was recently diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Not only did he happily take his teacher’s hand without incident to go inside, he then ran back to me and requested “three good kisses” (thank you, Mother Goose!), and then said, “Bye, Mama! I wuf you!” (and thank you, speech therapist!) I almost started crying again, but this time, tears of absolute joy. It was as if a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. In that moment, I finally understood that it isn’t about me or about how many kids I have. God chose me to be mother to this beautiful little boy, a little boy who never ceases to amaze me with his capacity for love and compassion, regardless of what some think about kids with autism.
I honestly believe my super-sensitive son saw through my fake smile and knew what I was feeling. He then knew exactly what I needed at that moment. Thank you, Ben!
And now when I am asked if he is my only child, or if I am going to have more kids, I respond, “Yes, he’s my one and only. And isn’t he the best?” Thank you, Lord!