What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. -Nietzsche (not Kelly Clarkson)
A few months ago, I wrote about our older son, and how the first year of homeschooling is similar to your first year with a newborn. Today, I want to introduce you to our younger son.
We make no bones about the fact that our son was born with special needs. It's changed how we live our lives. It's changed us as a family. It's made us a stronger family.
Unlike most babies, you won't find many pictures from his first year of life. I won't get into specifics, but it was very touch and go, and there were times when we specifically didn't take any pictures because, if he wasn't going to make it, we didn't want pictures around. It was a crazy time and, with hindsight, I'm not sure that we would have approached it the same way now.
They say that "with hardship comes intimacy." Experience tells me that hardship will break you down into itty-bitty bits and spit you out. Our family fell apart in crisis. It's true. For two years, we lived in a constant state of crisis, and it was only through the grace of God and our family support that we stuck together. However, that intimacy that they speak of (whoever this "they" is) came later. Now, when we face hardship, we know we can do it together. Because we have before.
Fast forward four years.....those who didn't know his past would only think that he had some minor difficulties to overcome. Those who did know the entire story were AMAZED at his progress. I remember the doctors at the hospital telling us, multiple times, "This little boy is a fighter! He should not be here. He is very stubborn!" We laughed and cried at the time over these statements, but would fully embrace them as a preschooler. When I approached my wit's end with his stubborn behavior, my husband would remind me of the doctors' statements. The same behavior that I was eschewing was the very reason he was still with us...how can you be mad at that?
Like every child, he has his "quirks." For starters, Southwest Airlines. There's not a person in the world (including the CEO of SWA himself!) that loves those planes more than my son! For his birthday, my husband made this plane out of Styrofoam. Three and a half years later, we're still the crazy family with the airplane tied to the trees in the front yard! Ice storms, tornadoes, heat waves...it still hasn't fallen apart!
By the age of four, he was an old pro at surgery. This picture makes me proud, and breaks my heart, all in one movement. He's so brave about the medical procedures. He shouldn't have to be...it's not supposed to be like that for children. Recently, he's begun to notice that other children (like his brother, specifically) don't have to go to the doctor all of the time. They don't have to get poked, and have surgery, and see a million different specialists. He wants to know why he has to...and I don't have a good answer. Again with the heart-breaking...
I know that God has a plan for him. He brought him back from death, the night he was born. He gave us the strength we needed as a family. Our son is the most compassionate, caring, joyful little boy, and I can't help but attribute part of that to the struggles that he's overcome. I have no idea what the future holds, but I can't wait to see!
School IS very difficult for him. He's very intelligent, but his brain works differently. He's a few years behind, but making steady progress, and he definitely forces me to stretch my brain to come up with new and creative ways to teach! It's not always easy, that's for sure. Luckily, a couple of years ago, fate found me a partner-in-time.....she has children the same age, and is going through similar struggles. We live several states apart, and accidentally bumped into each other on a homeschool facebook group, but the connection has been such a blessing! We support each other, lift each other up, and kvetch to each other daily. When you have a special needs child, you HAVE to have support, whether from a group of folks or just one person who really gets it!
Before we decided to homeschool, his "file" had over a dozen different IEP labels on it, half of which were malarkey. Here's what we know for sure - he has a history of serious health issues, and some lingering ones today (some of which are side effects of NICU drugs......we no longer blindly trust someone just because they are wearing a white coat!). He has a pretty good little speech disorder, as well as auditory processing, sensory-motor, and fine-motor disorders. As his mother, I believe the one accurate label handed to us was Dyspraxia. ALSO - he is quite the little drummer! He snuggles better than any child I've ever known. He finds great joy in helping out around the house, and cannot let a person be until he sees them smile. He has this innate empathy and compassion that transcends everything else......well, everything except sibling rivalry.Some days, it's a hard row to hoe, but we wouldn't have it any other way. I'm glad to have a front row seat as we see how God brings him forth into this world.