Strange thoughts often roll through my head when I’m out running. It’s one of the reasons I run. It helps me process stuff. It helps me work out problems to not intentionally think but just let things flow around in that brain of mine. I’ve had quite a few “a-ha moments” when running. And I have had some sock-you-in-the-gut moments as well. The day I was laid off three years ago, I ran. The day after Ethan was diagnosed on the spectrum, I ran. I run a lot in September because a) the kids have gone back to school and I can; and b) I’m trying to escape the memories of all that went wrong that September in 2000 when Ry was born.
Last week, I had one of the sock-you thoughts. It crossed my mind that maybe we are being “punished” with Ethan’s autism because of all Ryley didn’t deal with in his prematurity. How’s that for mother’s guilt? In the world of micro-preemies, it is almost unheard of for a 26-weeker to not face a PDA or PDA ligation. Same goes for only having a minor brain bleed on one side of the brain, which resolves on its own. It is almost unheard of for a 26-weeker to not have vision or hearing problems, feeding issues, serious asthma, and a whole other laundry list of medical issues. It is almost unheard of for a 26-weeker to come home from the NICU without supplemental oxygen or apnea monitors. Sure, he’s dealt with high-muscle tone (resolved as an infant with therapy), a mild speech delay (resolved before he was 3 years old), mild asthma (still resolving), and ADHD (which I credit more to genetics than his prematurity). But to get where he is on the path he has taken is almost unheard of.
I suppose the thought I had was the result of a mental process regarding karma. It has to level out somehow, right? So since Ry didn’t face all the things he should have, our family must pay for it somehow? Or no? Is Ethan the one paying the price? I nearly doubled over from the punch to my gut when this popped into my brain. And then I thought, there is no way the God I believe in would let that happen. He doesn’t work that way.
Maybe I was trying to find a reason, something to blame for Ethan’s autism. I can’t seem to get it out of my brain. And I’m struggling with it. We’ve had a rough week with E-man, give or take. He’s had some bright shining moments, and some very dark moments. He was up until past 10pm again last night. I lay in his bed with him trying to get him to talk with me about his “worries” so he could sleep. It seemed as soon as we soothed one, he’d produce another worry. He’s anxious about this school year ending. He’s anxious about Summer. He’s anxious about our trip right after school gets out. He’s anxious about fourth grade in the Fall. He’s anxious about when he will go back for another session with his therapist. The list went on and on. I lay there, listening, rubbing his back, talking softly, trying to calm fears and sooth him, at the same time I wanted to lash out and scream about how unfair this is. Who or what can I blame this on? My thoughts circled back to that sock-you-in-the-gut moment last week. Does this punishment fit the crime? For sometimes this does feel like punishment of some sort. E is the innocent bystander who faces the firing squad. For all we didn’t deal with in the NICU, we certainly are getting the full experience now. And it stinks.