I remember the day it happened, the day I knew. It was Friday, March 20th to be exact. I got off work at 5:00 and headed over to Nick and Gia’s preschool to pick them up for the day. I walked in and did my usual scan of the room, looking for the blonde-haired, blue-eyed children that look nothing like me. Nick and I locked eyes right away, and he greeted me with his typical, melt-my-heart “Hi mom! I missed you so much today! I didn’t pee my pants!”. My typical response followed, “Oh Nicky, I missed you so much today too! I’m so proud of you for not peeing your pants, but you do know that’s pretty normal right?” Now usually by this time Gia is right there with us, giving hugs and kisses, using her own special words to tell me all about the day. She was no where in sight. I took another scan of the room, and called out her name several times. She slowly popped her head up from behind a shelf, and I was shocked at what I saw. She looked like a disaster of complicated emotions. She looked sad, she looked weak, she looked angry, she looked tired, she looked discouraged, and she looked defeated. My eyes welled up as soon as I saw her. There was pain and struggle all over my daughter’s face, and it made my heart hurt. I glanced up at the teachers, looking for some kind of explanation. Before I could ask the inevitable questions of concern, the director approached me with the obvious, “She had a rough day”. Continue reading
To say that Gia was a surprise, would be an understatement! After needing fertility treatments to have my son, Nicholas, I found myself pregnant AGAIN, when he was three months old. Ready or not, Gia came into our lives just 9 months later. I was terrified at the thought of bringing home a second baby, but Gia made it not so terrifying. She was your typical baby, as long as her tummy was full, and her diaper was changed, she was happy! She slept through the night at 8 weeks-old, smiled like it was her job, and let her brother be the star that he so desperately wanted to be. In the first year of Gia’s life, she met all of the standard milestones on time; she rolled over at 4 months, sat on her own at 6 months, crawled at 9 months, and walked at 12 months. She babbled constantly, but had yet to say a real word by her first birthday. I wasn’t concerned, and neither was our pediatrician.
Gia’s 18-month checkup came, and still no words to speak of, just a lot of gibberish. My son was a late-talker, so I didn’t think much of it. I was looking at a healthy, normal little baby, and I figured that the pediatrician would see that too; I was wrong. She very bluntly said to me, “I’m going to flag her in the computer for Autism, because speech delay can be an early sign.” Two thoughts went through my head: one, “Oh my god, my daughter has Autism!”, and two, “What a B****! My daughter does not have Autism!” From that day, until Gia turned 2 years-old, I found myself studying everything my daughter did. She would do something that I thought was “weird”, and I would run and google it; It was insane! I felt like my brain had been poisoned with this toxic information that I just wanted to go away. I stopped enjoying this happy, and carefree little girl in front of me, and became consumed with what everything meant. Continue reading