"Loving the Soul Beneath the Autism" excerpt by Janele Hoerner (CatholicMom.com) Everyone knows that saying, “Be careful what you wish for.” Well my wish came true on a typical Thursday morning ... That morning began like every other weekday morning that preceded it, with my phone alarm clock singing at 6 a.m. As I hit the off button, I rolled over and closed my eyes once again. 6:15 came far too quickly as the second wake-up song began. After hitting the silencing button once again, I laid back on the bed staring at my fan. In my half asleep daze-like-state, I began to dream a few years into the future. I dreamt of a loving husband and little children playing together, laughing, and jumping into their parents’ bed. Just as I began turning my head to see the face of my adoring husband, the final commencing of the 6:30 buzzing began radiating throughout the room. By now, I was late, as usual. I placed my feet into my fuzzy purple flip-flop slippers and grabbed a towel as I headed for the shower. Just as I left the room, I turned back remembering the box that was hidden under my mattress for safekeeping. I slowly pulled out the special package and folding it secretly into my towel I hurried off to get ready for my day. I headed down the freezing steps quietly and peered out the kitchen window where it was a cold 17 degrees. Arriving at my girly, perfumed bathroom affixed with every purple accessory that I could find, I turned up the heat. When I opened the annoying squeaky door, I was immediately hit with a soothing aroma of lavender. It always had the ability to put me in an uplifting mood. I excitedly pulled the hidden box from my towel and carefully took out the contents, with anticipation, of the possibly perfect future ahead of me. I carefully laid my used pregnancy test on the bottom right corner of the sink as I swiftly showered. I had the intention of not peeking at the results until my shower was over, but my determined and overly obsessed mind conquered my will. Soon enough I was pulling back the curtain to read that one tiny word that I always imagined seeing. That one word brought so much joy to my thoughts. It was honestly the only thing that I ever passionately thought about in my twenty years. Finally, I saw them, the eight letters that I was convinced would change my life forever: PREGNANT! I must have pulled that shower curtain back five or six more times just to make sure that I did not miss another small, but just as important, word NOT. Except there continued to only be one word in my view. Feeling as if I was floating in midair, with not one ounce of fear in my mind, I was elated that my growing contents were not a figment of my imagination. I was, in fact, carrying a tiny and very special little child. In that moment, I was entirely consumed with the thoughts of this precious baby growing in my womb. I literally could not stop smiling! I was in love and so filled with excitement that I had not the faintest idea that I would never again be the same person who got out of bed that morning. Thinking back to my own childhood just a bit, I reminisced how all I ever wanted was my own baby or a sister. I had baby dolls upon baby dolls, and every girl name that I could think of, my baby was named. Each time she was dropped, I got to name her again and start over. It was the magical obsession of my childhood mind. I knew, no I was convinced, that I was destined to have little girls of my own and a lot of them. I never even considered that I could have a little boy. As I aged, when people asked how many children I wanted, my answer was always six. Since I was an only child and my grandmother had six, I felt I needed that pattern to continue. Patterns were always very important to me, so six sounded like the perfect but non-negotiable number. From a very early age, I knew that I wanted children. I only needed to find the guy who shared my same passion. I just never knew finding the ideal husband would be so incredibly hard. Unfortunately, I would soon learn that I was going to be alone in my happiness about this child. Caught in the moment with a hopeful excitement of the unknown, I paused for a moment to send a text to the father of my unborn child. I simply wrote that I would be over after I got off work that night and closed my phone. I know I never received a response back from him, but I did not think anything of it at the time. Driving to work that morning, I noticed how cautious I was. Skipping my morning iced coffee stop brought an even bigger smile to my face as I fought the traffic rush. Arriving at work that morning, I was in such a happy state-of-mind, that I could not even contain myself. As I opened the door and greeted the child for whom I was a nanny, his mother must have known something was different. She jokingly asked where my Frappuccino was. Smiling from ear to ear, I replied that I did not have time to stop! Knowing me better than I apparently knew my own patterns, she pushed further. Ignoring her prying remarks, I picked up her little baby and envisioned how close I was to picking up my own child. My mind was running circles around itself, and it was in that moment that everything came crashing down. This was so much bigger than I could ever have imagined. I needed help. Sadly, but somewhat ironically, before this all I cared about was having a baby. I had not even considered the facts of supporting that new life. I froze with her son in my hands, and I wept. I could not stop my mouth from rambling every thought in my skull. The whole story came spewing out. The tears poured down my cheeks as I confessed to her that I felt completely alone! The reality of my life was that I had no real way to take care of a tiny baby on my own. I lived with my Grandparents and was working my way through nursing school at the time. I had no extra money to my name, no money for a house, clothes, toys, or anything for this child. I was so incredibly blinded by just wanting what I wanted, that I allowed myself to have a child with someone I was engaged but not married to. He had used what I desired so badly to get what he wanted from me. I knew he did not want a family like I wanted, and in acknowledging that, I only cried harder. At last she interrupted my tears to speak. Her words made me cringe. I began to feel sick while listening to all of her opinions, which honestly made total sense, until she said the final word that hurt to my core. That one strong word that I did not want to hear: abortion. I knew that someone would mention it. I just never thought it would come from the mouth of a mother I admired. In that instance, all of the respect I had for her left. Her theory, as she explained, was that I should enjoy my twenties and then have children after I discovered who I truly was. I always knew, though, that I wanted to be a mom. I loved being a nanny and knew I would love, even more, being a mother. So in hearing those words roll off her tongue, I was offended with every ounce of my being. In an overly emotional state, I knew I had to leave my job and get away from anyone who would even talk about that word. In my opinion, I had already made my decision by allowing this baby to come into existence, and now it was this child’s life. A life, I felt, I was not privileged to end, even if that meant my own life would have to drastically change. After quitting my job, I was scared to death to tell anyone. I drove straight to the local doctor who accepted pregnant women without insurance. Later, following what seemed like an eternity and a pile of paperwork, I was seen for an initial appointment. My options were presented to me, and I set up my 1st ultrasound. The obvious next step, it seemed, was to go and see the guy who shared this wonderful idea of having a baby before marriage. Although I was so excited to tell him what I thought was good news, I just knew in the pit of my stomach that he could reject me and this child too. I was scared. Pulling into the driveway, I was shaking. I think I sat in the car for ten minutes just playing with the ring that I imagined was going to be taken off of my finger in a matter of a few words. Even though the word abortion was never used, I quickly realized that I was all alone. A week later, I went to my 1st ultrasound with my only support person at my side: my mom. I was experiencing a total rush of emotions while I saw and heard my child’s heartbeat. I was elated with joy, envisioning my glorious little baby. Yet, my future seemed so bleak at the same time. My pregnancy was officially confirmed, and my due date was set for November 15th, 2008. I was ecstatic to have this child who I had always craved, but craving was all it was. I now sat witnessing a remarkable moment in my life with my mom at my side instead of a loving and supportive husband. The image of the life that I thought I would have was turned upside down as reality hit me. The first trimester of my pregnancy proved to be harder than my wildest dreams. I was exhausted and miserable. I had constant headaches, and I got dizzy every time I stood up. Needless to say, nothing stayed in my stomach for long. Morning sickness became an understatement because I was sick all day and all night. I only found relief in Turkey Hill Coke Slushies, but only if I was sucking it constantly through the straw. I knew that the soda was not good for the baby. I tried to limit them to one a day, but eventually my Grandmother, who was a nurse, put a stop to my daily habit. I traded it for ginger pieces, which just made me gag more. I counted the hours until the second trimester started when I was told my sickness would end. The morning sickness ending was only wishful thinking as twelve weeks came and went. To my disbelief, at the start of my 13th week, I felt a surprising sensation in my stomach, which turned out to be my baby’s first kick. Although it was very early, my midwife told me that anything was possible. I might be feeling the flutters of the child because I was so sensitive. It was amazing! I could push on my stomach at any point, and, within seconds, I would feel the flutters in that exact place. That flutter gradually became a kick that I begged to be calmed. I was kicked, drummed, stretched, and hurt from inside with no relief. My baby was a boy, and he kicked with a vengeance. These movements were so hard that they would make me throw up, and I had no relief from morning sickness throughout my second trimester. The kicks brought on pre-term contractions that landed me in the hospital several times. I spent multiple nights in the triage of the hospital having medicine pumped into my IV. As the second trimester came to a close, I was in an unbreakable pattern of sleeping, studying, and visiting the hospital. I held on to the thought of a family for this baby as hard as I could during those first two trimesters until the engagement ring was removed from my finger. Leaving me standing alone in my driveway, I watched as my little boy’s father drove away. I watched and I watched and I pleaded with God, but his car never turned around. He had made up his mind, and my futile attempts at changing it were of no use. Feeling week and dizzy, I sat on the hard driveway until it was dark. I was inconsolable over the next few weeks as I realized the full weight of being alone.  I had actually believed the lies that a boy will tell a girl to get what they want. I vowed to never allow another person to hurt me the way that he had. I had given that boy everything of meaning to me, when in reality he deserved nothing to begin with. What was I to do now? The start of my third trimester seemed to be manageable. I was learning to function pretty well until the one night that changed everything. I must have let out a scream in my sleep that was enough to wake up my Grandmother. I was soon back in the hospital, and the next thing I knew, I was admitted into labor and delivery. At 31 weeks I was having steroid shots injected into my legs to develop my child’s lungs because my contractions would not stop with any of the hospital’s measures. Finally, after three days, with no relief from steady seven to ten minute contractions, a new medicine relieved the pain. The medicine relaxed my uterus, and the contractions were thankfully gone. I was released from the hospital and put on bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy. Loving the Soul Beneath the Autism is available at Amazon.com.

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Copyright 2018 Janele Hoerner