As a first time mom there is a lot you don't know. (Go ahead and read all those books. When the shit hits the fan, see if you remember it! Ha!) You rely on other mommies to compare notes about your little ones. You ask your doctors questions, and then there's the Internet (it's your worst frienemy). But really, you're just doing many things by the seat of your pants and what works best for your new little family. (And yes, even after 17 months, parenting is still as stressful and new because it's constantly changing as your child grows and develops.)
Let me get real with you: I've shared that Vincent is a difficult child. He's clingy and not a naturally curious guy. That's OK, right, when you have a cuddler and a toddler who you don't have a chase around at birthday parties? He just sits next to you drinking his sippy cup, patting your leg every now and then. You handle the emotions surrounding his physical delays, and by handle you freak out. But in the end, with some therapy, you see progress. You think to yourself, "OK. We're doing good." Just in time to enter a new dreaded task: the autism screening. You wonder what exactly that entails and enlist the help of your frienemy (see earlier point), and your heart falls—because there's a lot you don't know about being a first time mommy. You learn behaviors that you thought were endearing could actually be behaviors of an autistic child. And a weight check for your child becomes a longer appointment where the pediatrician takes the time to "play" with Vincent, but he's actually checking for something more. You hear your first official "Don't be concerned if we start talking about autism." And then the sinker: You learn that your sister has been thinking for months that he's showed signs.
There's been tears. There's been anger on top of residual anger left over from the motor development delays. There's been frustration because you want your child to lead a normal life and you want to lead a normal parental life. You don't want to have to seek the inner special circle for parents with special needs kids. You don't want to have to contemplate any more of the "nonnormal" shit.
And then you get over it. For the most part. Because you have a beautiful child who is here. Who does smile and laugh. Who may or may not be autistic. Who melts your heart and you can't wait to spend time with everyday.
You see this:
And you know you've got it good! No matter what the future holds.