Thursday, May 31, 2018

Autism Answer: Eighteen Years Ago

I felt another tightening, more pain, closer together. I knew the boys would argue a bit when I told them it was time to go, even though Lion King 2 was only almost over, but I also knew we had to go. This was my fourth birth and I was feeling pretty certain about timing. Now was the time.

Surprisingly the three boys already born to me didn't argue for a moment, merely asked if they could borrow a game from the activity center before we left and headed back to our cabin unit. I was okay with that. They'd need a distraction while I - with the help of my mom - had a baby.

We walked from the activity center to our cabin, my oldest son holding the Battleship game, my second oldest holding my hand, and the baby (two years at the time) being my something to hold as we headed in the Missouri sun to the place where another one of us would soon add his voice to our resort vacation.

I briefly wished I could down a bunch of painkillers so this next part wouldn't hurt so bad.

We stumbled into the front room of our cabin (the tv was on, my mom and brothers were there, I gave mom the knowing look, she rushed to organize things as I allowed the pain to engulf me in its productive work) and I again wondered, what about one or two painkillers?

This was my fourth baby and my third home birth. But this was the first time I knew the gender of the baby before holding him in my arms. And again, it would be a him. My fourth son.

It was also the first time I would have a baby while also being married. Interestingly, my husband was not with us in Missouri. He was home in Texas, working and making money so when we got back to him our family could eat. He was - as he so often did and still does - missing out in order to give things to us. This baby was being born into a wonderful family.

As I began to push, my mom called the ambulance. This was our thing, you see. I had the baby at home but emergency help was on its way, just in case. Plus, they were sure to give me a safe ride to the hospital with my new little one.

Declyn came into my mom's world first, then mine, then our family's, and then - because we are good at sharing - the rest of the universe's.

He was perfect, of course, Babies are. He was also red, just as his brother guessed he would be. ("Tyran, what color do you think Declyn will be? Black or white?" family members would ask playfully. "Red." Tyran would respond confidently. We'd giggle, he'd look at as straight-faced and certain. He was right.)

He was a champion breastfeeder. Of course, since he was son number four I was pretty good myself. But, boy! Could he eat!

I don't remember much about our ride in the ambulance, thought the comedy of trying to get me and the stretcher up a bunch of uneven stone steps is pretty clear. My mom and my sons were following behind, my brothers were left to clean up the mess in the cabin (they sure do love to bring that up when asking me for a favor!).

I do remember the feeling of having all four of my sons with me in the hospital, my mom smiling at our side, my husband waiting to hear news at every new location.

It felt complete. It felt right. It felt like family and strength and love and happiness and exhaustion and possiblities and fears and hopes. It felt like life.

That was eighteen years ago today.

My baby, Declyn, is now a man. He doesn't remember that day eighteen years ago, but that day remembers him. That day will always be part of him.

And I hope to keep that in mind as he goes off on his next adventure: University without me. I hope to give him his space and trust that though the memories he makes without me will not be my memories, they will remember me.

Declyn is a brilliant, talented, thoughtful, couragous, kind young man. This is a fact. And for eighteen years I've had the privilege of being near him while he has grown and explored and questioned all of these parts of himself. He's planning to leave soon. And, darn, I'm going to miss him!

But I am also deeply grateful and excited for the opporunities he's found for himself. This kid, errrrr... man, knows how to live and be.

Much like the day he was born, he naturally seeks and discovers healthy nourishment in the world. 
And over the years he has brilliantly found ways to offer the same in return.

I'm going to miss him, but I'm (anxiously) excited for him, too!

Happy birthday, Declyn!!!! 

I love you, I love you, I love you!

Hugs, smiles, and love!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)