Not the reality I envisioned

For years, I wanted nothing more than to be a mom. I wanted the little pink clothes (even though I hate the color pink). I wanted the cuddles, the snuggles, and the intoxicating baby smell. I wanted more than to just be a mom though. I wanted specifically to be a mom to a baby girl.

See, I was supposed to be a twin, but my twin was lost very, very early in my mom’s pregnancy. So early in fact that it couldn’t be determined whether my twin was a boy or girl. In my mind, though, I always had a twin sister.

When I found out I was pregnant, I wanted nothing more than to have a baby girl. I wanted the chance to meet, love, and be with the twin I lost. I knew my baby wouldn’t be my twin sister. I knew science didn’t work that way.

But as these things go, I hoped. I hoped for a carbon copy of not myself but someone who could have been my twin. Someone with my laugh, my personality, and my fierce need for independence. Someone very, very much like me, but not identical. Maybe she’d be extroverted to my introverted nature. Maybe she’d love pink to my love of the color purple. Maybe she’d stray towards Barbies and all things glitter when I wanted nothing more than to play with baby dolls. But, maybe….just maybe….we’d be alike in some ways too. Maybe we’d both love to read and gravitate towards books like oxygen. Maybe we’d both have a laugh that had the power to light up a room. Maybe her eyes would crinkle when she smiled really big. Maybe she’d have the cutest nose freckles you’ve ever seen. Maybe she’d be the shadow I so badly wanted.

But the Universe had other plans. You guessed it. I had a boy. But not just any boy. I had a boy that is a carbon copy of my wife. They look alike. They act alike. And they both have autism.

Because of autism, they have a connection I’ll never fully understand. And I’m glad they have that bond. I really am. But sometimes, I feel like they’re part of a club I didn’t get an invite to. I feel like they know the secret handshake that I’m not privy too.

And it guts me.

I’ve been struggling to connect with my son in my own way. Most days, it doesn’t happen. But sometimes, there are glimpses. Teeny, tiny glimpses. Ever so slowly, over the past week, that connection has made itself known. We’ve implemented reading books before bedtime. My son may only be focused on turning the pages at this point and may struggle to sit still, but it’s a start. It’s something. It’s not the beginning of the reality I envisioned, but it’s my reality nonetheless.

Why I’m Participating in Relay for Life

Though I have never participated in Relay for Life previously, this year I felt a particular need to do so. As a current Master’s of Social Work (MSW) student, my fellow classmates and I are studying to become social workers who are able to best support the most vulnerable and oppressed populations, and my population of choice is children with special needs and children undergoing treatment for cancer.

In August of 2013, I began a year-long internship with Arts For Life in Asheville, NC that changed my life. Arts For Life is a non-profit organization in North Carolina that teaches art projects to children in the hospital. Specifically, I taught art projects to children with special needs and children undergoing treatment for cancer. Early on, I felt particularly drawn to the children I worked with because like them, I spent extensive amounts of time in the hospital as a child because of my Cerebral Palsy. While I was a patient at Greenville Shriner’s Hospital as a child, doing art projects was the highlight of my hospital stays. Therefore, to have the chance to provide the same happiness to other children was incredibly rewarding. I worked with many children and families throughout my internship who commented that I had changed their lives because of the joy I was bringing to them and their families. But truly, they were the ones who changed my life.

Please join me in raising money for anyone who is fighting or has fought cancer. No one should face such a hard battle, especially children!

Click the following link to donate and support me at Relay for Life: