by Meghan Welton - June 11, 2020
November 30th 2013, after being married for five years with lots of health trials, my dream of becoming a mom became a reality! Liam Byron Robert was born and that is when our journey began. This sweet, beautiful baby boy was placed in my arms and then one of the nurses turned to the other and said, "We have a cleft palate here!" and she immediately took him from me. I started crying as Steve and I looked at each other with a million silent questions. What are they talking about? There was no cleft lip!
The next 24 hours were such a whirlwind and looking back my heart breaks for that new mommy! What was supposed to be a magical bonding time with mom and baby was instead filled with nurses coming and going, lots of hard conversations and the struggle of getting this new baby to eat. All I ever wanted was to be able to breastfeed my sweet baby but he had no palate so it made it impossible for him to latch.
The day we left the hospital I was completely terrified. We were told we had an appointment scheduled to go meet with a craniofacial doctor at Seattle Children's Hospital in a week and a half. I remember thinking, that's it? I don't know what I'm doing. I did know one thing however, I was so in love with this boy and we would figure it out!
We had daily weigh-ins at our pediatricians that first week and it wasn't going good. Liam had lost close to two pounds and wasn’t looking healthy. He was sleeping too much and not eating the day we headed down to Children's hospital. I remember Dr. Cunningham walked into the room, taking one look at Liam and telling us, he has what is called Pierre Robin Sequence. Liam's oxygen levels were dangerously low and I had basically been suffocating and starving my child (sounds dramatic but, it's true)! We spent the next five days learning how to change feeding tubes and how to watch for choking all while dealing with my new mom hormones and being angry at God (phew sorry Steve)!
Once we got into a routine with our boy he started thriving. He was growing healthy and was overall happy...but something was always just a little different. Liam didn't like to be around people, he would cry when around other kids, he would just stare at ceiling fans, and he HAD to have his routine otherwise his whole world would be thrown off. I noticed some of these as odd but I think I was in denial, not wanting to believe that there was anything wrong with my child. He had already been through so much!
In April of 2016, we had Oliver and he was a happy and healthy baby boy! My heart was so full and I felt like this was going to be a breeze after Liam. HA! Liam's world came crashing down around him and he took mine with it (I'm sobbing as I write this). The first time Oliver cried Liam started screaming...and I'm not talking just a little upset and move on kind of screaming, I'm talking uncontrollable not able to stop screaming. I lost it. Something in my head snapped and I went spiraling into PPD (Postpartum Depression) and Liam got the brunt of it. Once again, I was struggling with breastfeeding (hello stress). Everything was sending Liam into these epic meltdowns and our relationship was suffering. He spent more time with my parents and sister then with me that summer. I felt so guilty but I just couldn't handle all of it, and yes, once again I was so angry at God.
I remember that summer being at the park with Liam and when it was time to leave he started having one of his meltdowns and one of the moms there looked at me and asked me if he had autism...there it was, the one word I didn't want to hear. The one word I had been avoiding. I remember going to the car so mad at this woman. How dare she say such a thing? I pushed it under the rug and ignored it. I brought it up to my pediatrician and she reassured me that he was fine... so there! But, mommy knows best.
Fast forward to 2017 I was about to have another boy. I found out I was pregnant with Gavin the day Oliver turned nine months old. SURPRISE! Liam was in preschool and I was thinking ok, maybe he doesn't have autism, but there was something still just a little different. He was three and could read all the names of everyone in his class, he was obsessed with the solar system, and I mean obsessed, he could name all the planets and their moons and it was all he wanted to talk about and watch 24/7. God started placing on my heart to start advocating for Liam. I needed answers for my sweet boy as to why sounds, smells, food and touch would just set him off. I wanted to get him into Seattle Children's Autism Center so badly so that he could get tested, but my doctor told me that there was over a year waiting list! I told her I didn’t care and to put us on that list!
God started placing amazing autism mommies in my life. After talking with them for hours I knew Liam had Asperger’s, I just didn't have a diagnosis yet. In the meantime our relationship still struggled and I felt like I was the worst mom ever for him blah blah. All lies from the enemy, I know, but, I believed it.
“For of those to whom much is given, much is required.” — LUKE 12:48
I had three boys ages four and under and I was treading water. One day my mom had a heart to heart and she reminded me of the verse Luke 12:48 "For of those to whom much is given, much is required." Ouch, it was then I started thinking, wow, if these days are hard for me and his dad, how much harder are they for Liam? You see, I've never been much for grace. I'm a toughen up and get over it kind of person and what I thought was a boy and his mom struggling was really just a woman struggling with God! I want control of all the things, and man oh man, God sat back, and this last summer, He let me fall flat on my face!
We eventually got a call that Liam was going to be able to be seen at Seattle Children's Autism Center and I was overjoyed! He was diagnosed with high functioning autism (they no longer call it Asperger’s but I do lol) and sensory processing disorder. I wasn't crazy, even though I was beginning to believe I was, because so often people would tell me he seemed normal and that he doesn't look autistic...by the way, don't ever say that to a mom who tells you her child has autism. Ok, getting off that soapbox.
We had a diagnosis and a plan. I was going to homeschool him (he was getting ready to go into kindergarten) and get him into therapy. All was going to be great. God was laughing at me, again, because that was MY plan, not His. Liam and I struggled the worst we ever had this last summer. We butted heads about EVERYTHING! And finally, one day a friend said to me, “Maybe it's because you've always had to be his caregiver first and his mommy second!” My mind was blown. That was it. I had to do a major brain shift and that is when I felt like I was losing control of everything.
I remember that summer afternoon, last August, sitting on the porch watching the boys play when God said, "do you trust me?" I was bawling and I knew what he was nudging me to do. Steve came home from work that night and I told him, ‘I think Liam needs to go to public school and I just need to focus on being his mom and not his teacher.” Steve, being the amazing hubby he is, supported me 100%. Liam has been thriving in school and it has made a world of difference for our relationship! I've been able to focus on being his mommy and that's it. But, just as I'm getting comfortable in our new routine, once again, God has asked me if I trust Him. I am going to be homeschooling Liam next year GULP! But, I know that God has control of all of this and all I have to do is trust Him with this amazing boy who made me a mom. After all, that's all I ever wanted!
Liam is still obsessed with the solar system and wants to be an astronomer for NASA when he grows up! And no, we aren't trying for a girl. I am perfectly happy being a boy mom to my three boys.
“For I know the plans for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” — JEREMIAH 29:11