Backstory: I was a young women recently out of college reconciling with a boyfriend who had recently dumped me when we were surprised with a very unexpected pregnancy. After a quick court house wedding 7 months pregnant, we moved out of his parents house and into a rental town home, had a couple baby showers and welcomed a daughter into the world with barely 2 nickels to rub together.
We were young, overwhelmed, clueless, and broke. I brought home a 7 lb, 2 oz little girl to a small 2 bedroom rental in Baltimore city and started the journey of motherhood with no support system, no friends with babies, no idea what I was doing. Just when I got to the point where I could actually venture bravely outside of the house, things took a dramatic turn. At 16 weeks of age, my perfect little girl had her first grand mal seizure. This tonic-clonic convulsion raged through her for 75 minutes straight. I had to give her mouth-to-mouth as a police officer who happened to live next door to me raced me to the closest hospital. It was the first time I ever experienced a nightmare while awake in my life.
Our baby went into status epileptus again two months later, then again two months after that. Her seizures came more frequently, always long and very dramatic resulting in lengthy hospitalizations.
The first two years were a blur... Neurologists, EEGs, medications, CAT Scans and MRIs, tests, tests, and more tests.... Lather, rinse, repeat. Answers, but no answers. No answers, and just more and more seizures. Then, shortly after her second birthday, after a loss of language and other skills, she was diagnosed with cognitive impairments and Autism. The life of "normal motherhood" took a gigantic U-turn and was filled with therapies, early intervention, and doctor's visits instead of playdates and parties, pre-schools and storytime at the library.
During her first 8 years I continued with my pre-motherhood plan of attending graduate school to obtain a degree in Clinical Psychology. I embarked on a rigorous, full-time, 5 year doctoral program while simultaneously navigating the "special needs" waters. During these five years my husband and I separated and eventually divorced, I spent a few years as a single, working mom, eventually finished my doctoral dissertation years after I was supposed to have graduated, found love with my true soul mate, and finally remarried when my daughter turned 8 and started a new life with the best part of my old life.
Our family has since welcomed three little girls, all of whom are neurotypical and are wonderful with their big sister. After over a decade of working in the field of psychology I have been staying at home as Dr. Mom because, lets face it, it would have to be one heck of a job to pay for all that day care!
My life is nothing I thought it would be and everything I've ever imagined. I straddle two worlds; the typical world with three of my daughters and the less typical world parenting a significantly disabled teen. Juggling these two worlds is complicated, but I've always been one for a challenge.