Friday, June 15, 2012

You Get What You Need

Continued...(from here)

In my adult life, there have been a few things I've really wanted. I really wanted the first little baby I was pregnant with, I really wanted Mom to outlive Dad, and I really wanted autism to skip my kids. And, I just assumed that all those things would go just the way I had planned.

Sometimes, things don't go as planned. They go the way they should. Painfully better.

I thought the loss of our first baby would kill me. I have never felt pain as deep as when I was told that the 12 week baby we had simply named Junior, was in my tube and could not be allowed to continue to grow. The pregnancy had to be ended immediately. It was a crushing blow that only got worse when I found out that my remaining tube was completely blocked. Our options for having a family suddenly changed. I was angry, hurt, deflated. And as life goes, it wound up being the best thing to happen to me.

After two more years, thousands upon thousands of dollars, and 5 frustrating attempts at IVF, we were finally pregnant.  Pregnant with four of the most incredible blessings I have ever received. A pregnancy that never would have happened if not for the loss of the first baby. Four little miracles that survived despite serious prematurity and have become the reason I exist.  Four teeny babies who are turning ten in a couple of weeks.

I learned that I don't know the whole picture. That I can only see as far as today. That sometimes what I want isn't what I need.

Coming to the realization that Mason and Carson are autistic was not what I wanted. Having Mom die two years ago wasn't how I'd planned things to go either. But, I learned from the loss of my little Junior that there had to be a reason things hadn't gone the way I wanted.

When Mom died, I lost the buffer between me and my dad. She always promised us that she would outlive him and that we wouldn't have to care for him in his old age. Dad had quintuple bypass surgery a number of years ago so I always assumed that he would be gone before her. But now I believe Mom left early to give Dad the opportunity to get to know his children.

Dad had heart valve replacement surgery in January and I had the privilege of helping care for him. Had Mom been here, I would have just let her be the one to stay in the ICU with him, and maybe I would visit for 20 minutes. Instead, I got to hang out with him for four days. 

I really thought that I would never want to get to know him...I was wrong.

Like I said before, I see the boys in my dad, and I really love my boys. When they do something quirky, something exactly like Dad would do and I would have found irritating, my feelings about my dad change. It was hard to love my autistic father but loving my autistic boys is easy. My boys have completely changed the way I see Dad.

One day I hope my boys find a woman who loves them as much as my mom loved my dad. Someone who sticks with them, even when things are really tough. A woman who is willing to spend 53 years of her life loving them in spite of their quirks. And I really hope they have children that can see through their autism and learn to love and accept them for who they are.

Like I finally have with Dad.

Monday, June 11, 2012

You Can't Always Get What You Want

 This is my Mom and Dad,  the people who put everything on the line for the 9 children that made up my crazy family.  I have a few fond memories of childhood but, the one thing that I will always remember is that my dad was mean. The constant chaos of having so many children crammed in a small home (with only one bathroom,) was more than he could handle.  Dad yelled a lot.  I was very afraid of him.  He was very unpredictable and we never knew if our actions would cause him to come unglued.  I constantly walked on eggshells.  I remember hiding in the closet with my sister (and BFF,) Jeanna, whenever Mom wasn't home in order to avoid his wrath.  It was difficult to have a conversation with him (still is) because he is ADD and obsessive-compulsive which makes him want to talk only about the things that interest him. and usually bore me.  Any relationship we had with Dad went through Mom.  She was the go-between, the buffer, the peace keeper.  Mom has earned her spot in heaven for all the times she refereed and stuck up for us, keeping Dad's full anger from landing on us.

I think I always believed that I wouldn't ever have a relationship with Dad.  He shows a lot of quirky behaviors and it is difficult to get to know him.  A lot of his behaviors really drove me crazy.  From his obsessive need to brush and floss at precisely 9pm, to his constant talk of his childhood or days in the Air Force, to his ability to get so engrossed in a game of Football on TV that he completely shut the world out, it was just tough to break through and bond with him. 

After a particularly bad time, Mom was talking about leaving.  Dad realized something wasn't right, and my mother convinced him to go to counseling. I think he learned a lot from that experience. The one thing that Dad has always had going for him is that he is teachable. He learned some coping skills while in  therapy that have made it easier for him to navigate life. 

Then my brother's three boys were diagnosed with autism.  Their behaviors were exactly like Dad's.  A lightbulb went on in our minds, and the mind of our mother.  As we learned more and more about autistic traits, we realized that Dad was also autistic.  We finally knew that he wasn't trying to be a mean man, he just lacked the ability to respond to frustrating situations in socially acceptable ways.  It took some time but, eventually, I began to see Dad in a different light.  I started to feel compassion instead of dislike, empathy instead of anger.  But still, I had no desire to forge a relationship with him. 

Carson, Mason
Then God saw fit to send me two autistic boys of my own. Two little identical twin boys that have done nothing but melt my heart since the day they were born. Two boys who exhibit the very same behaviors that my Dad has. Boys who have meltdowns when overstimulated, have little patience for small children, and obsessively take their growth shots at 9am and 5pm. (Sound familiar?) I began to see my dad in my boys, or, was I seeing my boys in my dad?

Part two in a couple of days...

Monday, June 4, 2012

Recently Published

I've been trying to get into writing to make a little money to pay for my travel habits (and a few others.)  I was recently published on a couple of websites.
Check them out if you have a minute:

This one was published on a major mommy blog called Shopaholic Mommy.  It is their most read article to date!

Another has been published on a site called Thriving With Autism where I will become a regular contributor:
 If you know somebody who has, or if you have an autistic child, please share the site with them.  You will find a ton of useful information there.  You can also steal their awesome autism ribbon and share it on your own blog if you are so inclined.

Happy reading!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Kimber Academy

The quadruplets attended a private school this year.  It's called the Kimber Academy and it teaches core classes only.  Classes are only held 3 days a week, 4 hours a day leaving the rest of their education to be done at home.  Much of what they teach involves getting the students to determine their own interests and self direct their learning. (Wouldn't it be great if that were an option in the public system?)  It was a great help in giving us a blueprint for our homeschooling.  Not sure if we can afford it next year, but the kids want to return if we can.

For the first time in years, the quadruplets got school pictures!

Marvelous Mason

Cute Carson

Action Jaxon

Miss Amanda Panda

I thought I'd share a few photos from their fun times at the Academy!

Amanda and her bestie Emma dissecting a frog.

The girls really got into it!  My boys, not so much...

The final day of school, we all went and climbed Ensign Peak

Ready, Set, Go!

Mason and Carson...Always the twinners!

Amanda, Emma F., and Emma S.

We made it to the top!
Amanda, Mason, Carson, Brother Thatcher (their teacher) AKA Sifu, me, and Jaxon

The entire school!

After our beautiful hike, it was off to City Creek Park for a little picnic!

Notice who Amanda is hanging out with?  Yep, they are inseparable!

A little garden snake was the life of the party!
Tons of fun by the creek.

We met a lot of really wonderful new friends this year, friends who the quads definitely want invited to their birthday party!  But that will be another day, another blog post...