When Something Is Wrong With My Baby, Something Is Wrong With Me


Mother-Son (Photo credit: srsphoto)

I often start to type and end up writing something completely different to what I was thinking of.  That’s not too hard.  There are so many current examples of hateful, shocking sexual violence and general misogyny that I honestly don’t know where to start.  Several times a day I read or hear something that should defy logic…do people really have no idea of how sexism and denial of voices permeates every word in our language, the subjects of our discussions and so often, great miscarriages of justice?  I struggle to believe that so many can truly be unaware.

See, already meandering…

My divine child is approaching four years old.  He represents all manner of saviours, healing and reasons to hold on *no pressure*.  He is also what my heart looks like as it stands outside my body.

For at least a year I have had people refer to autistic traits they saw in him.  Some raised this issue respectfully, others not so much.  I saw the behaviours they spoke of.  But these things are common in children of his age and not on their own indicators of any syndrome or difficulty.  He is extremely affectionate, demonstrative, aware and engaged.  This kept me thinking that ASD was not relevant.  As yet the sensory issues and dealing with frustration that he has at times were not impeding his quality of life so I waited.

How much does this situation of mine impact upon my child, I thought.  We have existed in a mostly secluded world.  I am on medication for depression and anxiety due to PTSD from sexual assaults and stalking at work.  It’s fair to say that I exhibit some reluctance to socialise and do some of the ‘normal stuff’ that parents do.  Joining playgroups.  Playdates.  Often the idea of going to an open space like a park makes me feel sick lest I be *seen* by anyone – from my work or a private investigator.  And school holidays.  Ugh.  Teacher’s Best Friend is my nightmare now.  Those people could be anywhere.  Seeing school kids makes me sad.  Can’t wait for them to be over again.

Eventually I agreed to going through the assessment process for autism and related diagnoses.  By this time I had already spent so many hours going through the grief process associated with this type of thing.  I mean, I have perspective on where ASD fits on a scale of ‘disasters’ as a parent but it is natural and normal to experience some shock, worry and about one million truckloads of guilt.

On World Autism Awareness Day, someone tweeted a link to a study that found women who take certain antidepressants whilst pregnant may contribute to the onset of ASD in their child.  Which drug?  My drug.  My exact medication.

When I found out I was pregnant I raised the usual concerns with my GP and Obstetrician.  They both said that the ‘risks’ of stopping the medication whilst still under such pressure (and trying to stay at work) were greater than known risks for the baby.  I was worried but they were correct, I think.  I had to be as strong as possible to be the best mother I could be.

But did I do this to my baby?

Is my struggle with these feelings and experiences hurting my child even more than I already thought/felt guilty about?

Is this a tertiary effect of what was done to me at work, that my child has to engage in therapies and I am offered a Carers Payment (this upsets me for some reason), because a man was allowed to rape and harass me for almost a year in my workplace?

If I had been believed, not blamed and threatened, would I have been on medication and still be sitting here?

If men and women in trusted positions in the community hadn’t lied to Police and the Department?

If the overwhelming majority of people didn’t still support and participate in a victim blaming culture of such epic proportions…

I want a different life.  I want to feel strong and brave.  I want to look forward to a future where I can contribute, support and be passionate about things that matter.  Some days I just feel like what these pricks did is like an unwanted gift that keeps on giving…popping up to remind me.  I’m angry because they do not deserve that kind of power or importance.

My son will be more than fine, I know this.  He will reap the benefits (ha) of a mother trained to work in advocacy, education and inclusive practices.  Who is a Proud Nerd and passionate believer.  You want to talk about quadrilaterals, babe?  You’ve come to the right Mummy!

But under that pride and enthusiasm is a dark little cave.  The Guilty Place.  Somewhere people try to put you when you disclose sexual assault and rape.

It’s Your Fault.

You Made This Happen.

And You’re Not Strong Enough to be without meds, so You Made This Happen, Too.

I’ll fight the voices that say things like that but I really need to start looking after myself – on the inside.  That’s always the hardest thing to do.

5 thoughts on “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby, Something Is Wrong With Me

  1. Indeed. Not being believed is another layer of trauma- and an extreme one at that. I know all about it. The horrible case I am involved with is so unlikely that not even ‘Cross of Change’ wants to offer any support.

    My stepson is autistic, by the way.

  2. Hi. I have a son who sounds similar to yours. I have not suffered as you have. I am inclined to think there is a genetic component to these things (I am a bit… odd, so are some of the relatives but we are all of an age where such things were not labelled in childhood) It’s NOT a given that anything you did or didn’t do made any difference to your son being who he is. No one really knows the causes of the various ASDs. It’s just lazy misogynists who try to ponpoint it as something the mother did during pregnancy.

  3. Hi, thank you for sharing.

    There are so many studies out there showing associations between ASD and all kinds of things. I have read a lot of them but am not aware of any that have actually found a real causal link. The latest thinking seems to be that it’s at least partly genetic, possibly with external contributors/triggers in some cases. I think the UK’s National Autistic Society has something on causes etc which is sort of reassuringly inconclusive, if that helps in any way…

    Please try not to worry that you have done something to contribute – first because nobody knows what the causes are (see above) and secondly because you asked all the right questions when you were pregnant and logic is rightly telling you that you had a limited range of choices and made the best ones.

    So what’s the good news? ASD is often noticed and diagnosed these days (often while children are still very little, like your son) and there are some amazing people out there who can help families to live with and develop coping strategies for ASD. And there are some wonderful ASD parents on twitter too. So – however alone you may feel at times – there are others out there who understand.

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