Thursday, July 18, 2013

Our New Journey

Natalie is our beautiful 2-year old girl who loves to smile and make us laugh. From birth she hit her milestones normally but was very slow to learn words. We thought it was no big deal especially because she was being exposed to English and Spanish daily. Everyone learns at their own pace and eventually she would be talking our ears off. By 24 months Natalie knew 21 words and, although it was considered a low amount for her age, we were still okay with her development and thought she would catch up soon.

June 12th 2013
My hubby and I were having Natalie evaluated, because although she spoke 21 words at 24 months, she was now only saying 4 words at 33 months. One of her first lost words was mom…this broke my heart.

At the evaluation we thought they would tell us she needed a speech therapist to get her on track or that she had a hearing problem...
What we were told at the end of that 4 hour session would alter our lives forever.

“I am sorry, but Natalie hits all the red flags for Autism.” 

Suddenly, I couldn't breathe…I was crushed... I sobbed…I couldn't speak. 
I refused to look at the therapists, I was angry at them. “How dare they associate that word with my perfect little girl?” I can’t remember anything the therapists said after that, I was in shock and disbelief and I stopped listening. My entire world was at a standstill and all I could do was stare at my beautiful little girl and wonder what I had done to cause this. How could I have avoided this? This was my fault, I did something wrong. I failed her as a mom. The guilt was overwhelming. This scene remains painfully sharp in my memory.

Allan and I didn't say much to each other when we left. I cried and cried in the car. Why? How? Suddenly, all of my anger, my pain, turned to strength and I vowed to do whatever necessary to help our little girl, and Allan agreed. We decided that together and as one we would fight for her and get her whatever help she needed.

The world seems different to me now. I stare at children at the park and watch as they call their moms, “Mommy, mommy come look!” I notice that the mom is unmoved by her child’s exclamation as she goes over to her child. I realize how so many parents take so much for granted, things that I also took for granted with our son Austin. I think to myself, “wow, what I would give to hear Natalie call me Mommy.” Most parents don’t think about how special it is when their child calls them mom or dad. Most siblings don’t think it is a big deal to hear their little brother or sister call them by their name. But for me, it would be a day of celebration. I haven’t heard Natalie say mommy in 8 months and Austin has not heard her call him by his name in about the same amount of time. The day she says mom again I will fall to my knees and thank God, I will cry and I will celebrate the victory. I will buy a cake and we will rejoice. Yes, it's that important.

Today, she only remembers the name Daddy and that is what she calls her dad, her brother, and me…We are ALL Daddy and I am so glad she has kept that word, but I pray that I will hear her call me mommy again soon, I pray that she will one day say, “I love you.” What so many parents take for granted, I yearn for everyday.

I am weak but God is my strength. I am tired but God is giving me rest. I am nothing. He is everything.

Please help me reach my Goal!