Like Hannah, I asked the Lord for him (1 Samuel 1:1-28). Well, maybe not quite the same way.
I stood alone in the long stretch of a hallway that led to our bedrooms. Family photos, including one of my little one who lived a short life, spanned the length of the wall from end to end. And the tears poured down because another month had gone by, and I still wasn’t pregnant.
I had but one child now, already a preschooler, who was napping in her room. I tried to cry quietly. I didn’t want to disturb her with my sorrow. But I longed for a rainbow baby. Another son after going through the storm of losing Luke.
Standing under his picture, another wave of grief hit me. As I bowed my head to weep, I banged into the wall. Ouch!
Out of her room, shuffled my girl. I rubbed my aching head, my eyes stung, and I sniffled.
“What’s wrong, Mama?” She peered up at me with her bright blue eyes. “Do you need your daddy?” Ah, the wisdom of little children.
I nodded my aching head. “Yes. I need God, my Daddy in heaven.” I held her close and prayed, asking if the Lord would indeed give me another son. After that I stopped asking and stopped worrying about it.
It wasn’t long after that the Lord blessed us with another pregnancy. Through an ultrasound, we discovered the baby was a another boy.
At about five months into the pregnancy, something went wrong. Billy drove as I sat in the passenger seat of our SUV. I heard a plop behind me.
“Mommy, please get my sippy cup,” our daughter pleaded.
Reaching around the seat, I attempted to grab it, but, as I picked it up, I felt a searing pain in my abdomen. We arrived home a few moments later, and I rushed to the bathroom.
I had begun hemorrhaging and didn’t know what to do. “Billy!”
He poked his head in the bathroom. “What is it?”
“I think I’m losing the baby.” I held my stomach. As I prayed that the Lord would not let me suffer sorrow upon sorrow, Billy dialed my obstetrician.
We went in for an ultrasound that same day and discovered a rupture between the baby’s egg sac and my uterus. On the ultrasound screen, in black-and-white, I could see the stream of blood trickling down from the tear.
“Will my baby die?” I felt my brow scrunch up.
“There’s about a 50% chance of survival,” replied the doctor. “But, you’ll need strict bed rest until you heal up.”
That wasn’t complete assurance my baby would be okay, but nevertheless, I followed the doctor’s strict orders—for six weeks. To keep from feeling anxious, I prayed and wrote down my favorite Scriptures on note cards.
Most days, my little girl played with her toys next to me. I lay on the futon in the living room, reading and praying. Friends stopped by and brought me magazines, books, and movies to help pass the time.
After six weeks, an ultrasound revealed the rupture had completely healed. My baby boy, my Little Man, was born a week after his due date with only two hours of labor. As soon as he was born, he opened up his bright blue eyes to take in this strange new world.
The doctor laid him on my chest, and as I held him, I rested in awe of my Father God, who had given me such a beautiful child. To be able to hold him right when he was born and take him home with me was like a dream come true.
After his 12 month check-up and immunizations, our little boy came down with a 105 degree fever. He just stared blankly and didn’t respond when we called his name. We rushed him to a clinic and his fever came down with Tylenol, but after that day, something changed …
I couldn’t seem to get a smile, good eye contact. There was an inward turn…
When we would look at him, he would turn his eyes away.
His desire to connect was fading. His growing vocabulary, screeched to a halt … instead of asking for mama, dada, or anything, he would only scream.
I felt like I was losing my son.
I kept thinking, this is not happening. But, it was all so subtle. Within a matter of months, he went from a happy, sociable little toddler to one who had constant meltdowns.
He became highly sensory-sensitive. Not able to stand his own tears, he would scratch them away when he cried.
I wouldn’t give him what he wanted unless he asked for it. He had to ask, either with his words or with baby signs that I taught him before he was one. He would get so frustrated with me. But, I wouldn’t give in.
Looking back on that time, I know now that I was fighting for my son. To keep him from losing speech all together. To keep him from disconnecting from us.
Tired of my pediatrician saying he was fine, I took him to a child developmental specialist and a psychiatrist when he was four.
Both gave him the diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). He was referred to an occupational therapist to receive sensory integration therapy.
He started to turn around…
The therapy helped some, but I had this gnawing feeling that it wasn’t the right diagnosis. Even though SPD was hard enough to deal with, I thought Little Man had the mysterious epidemic that is plaguing so many children of this generation.
I pondered this in my heart, hoping I was wrong. But, the concern grew as he did.
Even though, yes, he did talk, he flapped his arms when he was excited and still had trouble looking people in the eyes for more than a few seconds (I had to be quick with the camera to capture him at attention).
And, he didn’t seem to be “growing out of it.” He needed more help.
So, when he was eight, I started asking around and connected with friends who had children with autism who had the same behaviors as my Little Man.
With a list of recommended doctors in hand, I called until I found one that would see him. A neurologist. Surely a neurologist would finally put to rest my concerns for autism.
Before we went to the appointment, I prayed that the doctor would see it if he truly had autism.
Right away, the neurologist confirmed what I had suspected. My boy flapped his arms the entire appointment, so there was no doubt for her.
He had autism.
So, the puzzle pieces finally came together. And, the picture was still my little boy. But, now I know he’s autistic, and he has a long road ahead of him.
This is the son I asked for. My rainbow baby. I was chasing rainbows, hoping that having another son would help heal the ache of having a child who died.
But, it was a different kind of rainbow than I was dreaming of.
He has a disability. I didn’t ask for that. But, I didn’t ask for a child without disabilities either.
And, of course I still love him. He’s mine. He’s still my Little Man.
Then I saw it. In asking for another son, I was chasing rainbows, an elusive brilliance that fades away with changing circumstances like the clouds parting in the sky, revealing the brightness of the sun.
I didn’t know it, but all along, I did have a rainbow. The rainbow inside my heart.
Through every sorrow, the love of God, my Father in heaven, has been shining in my heart, giving me the rainbow of a transformed life.
In all the pain and suffering of life, when we trust in Christ, he gives us more faith, hope, and love. And He will do so even now.
There are always glimmers of grace if you look for them. Evidences of our Father’s presence and providence.
For my son, each time he’s progressed in his development, all those little miracles are a sign of God’s redemptive grace.
We are all here for a reason. God divinely planned to create each one of us. Yet, our world is broken. Some of us have bodies or minds that don’t work as they should. And all of us have souls, damaged at the very beginning of man, at the fall, where the first sin was committed.
We all need redemption.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).”
We all need restoration.
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).”
Through Christ, the Good Shepherd, our dark valleys of uncertainty can become a rainbow valley for our souls.
As we trust in Christ, rely on Him, and look to Him for all our needs, we will become more and more like Him.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:28, 29)
In a way, everything, even hard things like autism, can be a blessing, a gift, if we continue to trust God and offer up our thanks to Him. He knows what He’s doing. And, we can keep looking to Him for those glimmers of grace along the way.