Are they all Yours? Part II

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Depression is a living Hell.  You see life moving around you, but you cannot be part of it, at least the way you want to.  I wished to finish my Master’s, but I couldn’t.  It is a completely desperate feeling.

My first-born son didn’t stop crying.  Many family members came to help the new parents, but nobody was able to console him.  The pediatrician said it was colic.  With what I know now, I think he had sensory problems.  The fact that I was depressed didn’t help him.  It was a horrible experience that I want to forget, but there is something to be learned from it.  What?, you may ask  Well, keep reading.

In the worst moments of my life, I have always seen how my whole little world can be turned upside down and there is nothing I can do about it, at least in earthly terms.  These are the times when I have to decide whether if I am going to keep on living that way or whether I am going to let God take care of everything.  Of course, I am stubborn and get angry at God.  This has not been the “perfect” life that I had always imagined.

Time passed and the post-partum depression faded away.  I became pregnant with my second son.  Oh boy!  Little did I know how this baby was really going to shake my life, but to new heights.  I was already expecting to have a baby that cried all the time and to feel miserable.  What else could be worst than that? If you are asking yourself why I didn’t see a psychiatrist, well I didn’t know I was suffering from post-partum depression at that time and I didn’t want to accept that I needed help.  That is a common symptom in people that suffer from mental illness.

Well, this new baby slept and barely complained.  It was the opposite from the first one.  Then, when we started waiting for the baby to reach developmental milestones like crawling and sitting down, he never did.  That is how our life changed again to one full of doctor visits and therapies.  Everything was a struggle for the poor baby. When he turned one and a half, he was still having trouble walking and spoke no words.  If you have read articles in the newspaper or watched the news, you may have an idea of what else was wrong with him.

My husband finished his federal clerkship and applied for a job in Washington D.C.  He got the job and we moved to Virginia with a two- and- half- year- old and a one- and- half- year- old.  My little one became more immersed in his world and he wasn’t interested in communicating with us.  The oldest one became extremely active and prone to accidents.  He was always looking for that sensory input.  He couldn’t be left alone for one second.  Yes, toddlers are active little things that can kill themselves in an instant. Naps were taken on the floor with me by their side and the door locked.  You get the idea!

I have to say that God is good.  Even when I didn’t want to have anything to do with him, he was always there.  I will explain why.  I took a job as a preschool teacher, so the kids would be able to socialize.  There I met many wonderful people who recommended a nearby pediatrician.  This doctor just retired a few years ago, after seeing my boys for more than 8 years.  He was always there for me.  He gave me the referrals to the best specialists.  He is the reason my second son was diagnosed with autism at an early age in one of the best places that knew how to deal with the condition 10 years ago, when there wasn’t enough information about it.  So yes, God is good and is always with you, every step of the way.  Especially during those hard times when I hated him and asked, “why me?”  When things get hard, I whine like a little toddler!

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Are they all Yours? Part I

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This is a phrase that I hear almost every day since I am the mother of 7 kids.  Most people give me the are you crazy? look.  Others show me their complete disapproval by staring with an angry face. Men ask me if I had them with the same man.  I think it breaks the “I cannot be faithful to one woman” or the “doesn’t your husband gets tired of you” argument. I can understand, in a way, where all this comes from.  My mom is my dad’s sixth wife.  Yes, sixth.

Women, on the other hand, ask me how I do it?  I just tell them that I didn’t have 7 kids at once.  That I don’t think about it, I just take care of them and do what needs to be done. I also tell them my little secret for “success”.  I go to Church every day.  I need the extra help or graces, as we Roman Catholics call it. Everyday? Yes, every day of the week, not just on Sundays. I will tell you why.

 For me, getting married  was a completely crazy idea in the first place. I simply was never going to get married.  I wasn’t the type of woman that needs a man to live life to the fullest.  I was going to have a prestigious career and I would have enough money for traveling and to buy a sports car. Yes, I inherited my mother’s side love for fast cars and racing. During college, I was on my way to this dream.  I had two prestigious internships.  One with a U.S. Senator,  in which I was the first Hispanic to do so. The second internship was with a Puerto Rico state senator.  I was also in the Honor Roll and the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.  Then, at 20, I got married. No, I wasn’t pregnant, in case you are wondering.  My husband is more competitive and ambitious than I am, so I was mesmerized. That’s when my life changed.  He re-introduced me to the Roman Catholic faith and life.

I was Baptized a Roman Catholic and received First Communion, but rarely practiced my religion. I attended a Catholic school, just because it was one of the two schools rich families sent their kids to.  Yes, I grew up in the upper middle class. I had a beach house, a jet ski and all kind of nice toys.  The only thing I had to do to enjoy all these privileges was to work with my dad in his business on Saturdays and help with cooking and cleaning during the week.  My dad is a Cuban small business entrepreneur. His favorite phrase was: “The one who doesn’t work, doesn’t eat.” So, I have been working since I was 9 years old, but I didn’t mind. I had money and many material things which were my life at that time. By my senior year of high school, I have to admit that I hated anything related to God. God and religion were just another subject in school.  I never learned to love Him, so I didn’t see why I need Him in my life.

So, I finished my college degree and went to Law School.  The idea of being a lawyer wasn’t for me, so I dropped out after the first semester which I finished with straight A’s. It took my dad many years to forgive me for dropping out.  I then went to work and to figure out what I was going to do with my life. I ended up almost finishing a master’s in Speech-Language Pathology. Yes, I didn’t finish that either. I had one semester to go, but had my first baby.   A year before, I had a miscarriage. I struggled  with severe post-partum depression which left me barely able to take care of my son. I t was the first time that I faced failure.

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Spring Pictures/Fotos de primavera

IMG_0170IMG_0135 IMG_0137 IMG_0146 IMG_0155 IMG_0158 Photographing my kids provides lots of enjoyment and keeps my life on check.  It reminds me that time flies and I cannot do anything to stop it.

El tomar fotos de mis hijos me provee una gran satisfacción. Igualmente, mantiene mi vida en perspectiva.  Me recuerda que el tiempo vuela y no puedo hacer nada para detenerlo.

Never a Dull Day- Part 1

I can’t believe that it has been more than three months since I wrote my last post.  Many things happened since then and I am happy to say that we survived it.

After the baby and I were cured from the MRSA, we enjoyed a few “normal” weeks were everybody was healthy.  On a Friday, I went to Target which is very close to my house, to get milk.   I just remember walking at the store with a basket on hand and feeling like I was going to fall down.  Then,  I am on the floor without shoes and I noticed people staring and asking how I was doing.  I just got up, looked for my shoes and kept on walking.  I don’t remember the part where I fell down. After I left the store, I started having a strong headache and nausea.  I knew those were signs of a possible concussion.  When I got home, I  called my husband , so he could stay with the kids and I could rest. No, I didn’t go to the E.R. right away.

The headaches kept on getting worse, and now I had dizziness.  Finally, I decided to go to one of those urgent care clinics.  The doctor looked at me and said: ” You know you are not doing well, so go to the E.R. right away. I can’t believe you didn’t comesooner to get checked.”  I went right away and had an MRI.  I was more worried about the radiation than the possible concussion.  This is the second MRI in less than a year. I had the first one performed before having my back surgery to remove a fatty tumor. Well, everything turned out to be fine with my brain.  I was “only” going to have constant migraines and dizziness for two weeks. The dizziness lasted two weeks, but I still get migraines.

Since then, I have also been having trouble concentrating on long tasks and  having problems with my memory.  Oh well, it looks like God wants me to work on the virtue of being humble and finally realize that I need to ask for help to get through each day.  After all, our life is always full of new events.

 

MRSA infection. Here, the surgeon just removed the dead tissue, so the infection would not keep on spreading.

Angels Around Us

Do you see the dove?

A few weeks ago, I went to my church to get Holy Water.  As expected, the Church’s 5 gallon Holy water’s container was empty.  I even opened it to check and not a single drop was left.  Suddenly, I notice a sweet old lady that was changing the bulletin boards.  She noticed my frustration and said: ” I can’t believe that a Catholic Church is out of Holy Water.” She smiled and told me, “follow me.”  We went inside the church and she emptied the little container where you bless yourself when you get into a church.  To my amazement, the little bit of water filled half of a big bottle.

Then, as I sat down at church to give thanks to God, I saw a lady walking around the church very fast looking for a candle to lit.  She reminded me of our kids speech-language pathologist.  My husband and I  have been trying to contact her for a long time, so she can offer therapy to one of our daughters. As she was walking towards me, she smiled and we recognized each other. I waited for her outside and talked for a long period of time. Well, now she knows what we need.

Everybody experiences these “helps” every now and then.  Next time you need help finding your keys, a parking space or any little thing, ask for help.  Angels are all around us.

A Miracle

A few days ago, while I was picking up the phone, one of my daughters moved the fence that serves as a barrier to the stairs. When I turned around, I see my baby’s little legs on the edge of the
stairs. I dropped the phone and started running towards him, but I was too late. He fell down 13 hardwood inclined steps. A mother’s nightmare.

We took him to the E.R. and the doctor said that it was incredible how he only got a little bump on his forehead. This was due to the fact that he slid down the stairs without rolling.

Also, as we are leaving the E.R., we see our pediatrician.  What an amazing coincidence.   He reassured us that the bay was just fine.

Definitely, the Virgin and his Guardian Angel were protecting him.

Lesson of the day: pray more and give thanks.

Happy Birthday to a Homeschooling Mother of a Big Family with Special-Needs Children

What a long title, but it describes most of my life.  My birthday was a few days ago.  Throughout the years, I have gotten used to not expecting any celebration or private time.   However, my children were excited about my birthday (partly because they get to eat cake).  They made me cards, colored pictures, and did their chores without having to remind them many times.The five-year-old told me:  “Mommy I feel sorry for you, I am naughty most of the time.  I will help today, and I am sorry.”
Wow, big words and she really meant them!
Any birthday wishes?  I prepared a list:

1.  I would like to sleep without being aware of what is going around me.  When I am “sleeping”, I can hear (or imagine hearing) any noise in the house.  Sometimes I wake up believing that the baby crying, but he is asleep.  More recently, I have been waking up because my three-year-old with autism starts screaming in the middle of the night.  By the time I figure out what is wrong, and I am able to soothe her, I fall asleep in her bed.2.  I wish the day was longer.  Yes, life is short and there is so much to accomplish.  But I have to accept the reality of time.

3.  For my children to become happy, independent, and generous adults, especially the ones with autism.  I am working on that.  That takes work, not a miracle.

4.  To accept the life that God has given me as a gift from him.  I do believe (but need to accept) that I have been entrusted with special-needs children for a reason.

5.  To stop getting frustrated when my carefully planned days turn into chaos, and I cannot get much done.  Still working on it too.

6.  To enjoy reading more books about autism and special-needs children.  I have been dealing with autism for eight years now, so I get tired of not seeing the end of this steep learning curve.  However, I do appreciate how much more information is readily available now compared to a few years ago.

7.   To enjoy my kids more because time flies.  I already have two pre-teens.

8.  I still wish I could take a long shower without having someone knock on my door to ask for (or complain about) something.

9.  To spend more time with my husband alone.

10.  To be able to start running again and have time to exercise.

11.  To be thankful for the lessons in love and humility that life teaches me everyday, perhaps to help me stop thinking about myself most of the time.

12.  To enjoy life’s little things and the possiblity of being a better mother, wife, daughter, and friend.

13.  To enjoy the fact that my ten-year old son with autism has improved dramatically to the point that going to college is an achievable goal for him.  Dear parents and teachers, having high expectations for children with autism is not living in denial, but with hope.

14.  Be hopeful that my three-year old with autism will follow in improve her older brother’s footsteps.

15.  To ignore people (particularly those close to me) when they tell me that I have exceeded my quota of adding 1.5 people to the world population, or when they ask me whether all the children are mine, and whether I had them with the same man.

Well, back to stop wishing and start working.

Thank you to my husband, old friends and new friends for supporting me.