I know a lot of my followers have been looking forward to this blog post for a while now and I’m so happy I was able to get to it for you. In this post I’ll be talking about being autistic and pregnant and my transition to motherhood. I think it’s very important I talk about this because even though I was able to mask almost every external autistic trait about me, I still couldn’t unfeel the internal part. My loved ones may not know the whole extent due to me masking and I’m sure they would love to know my perspective on things.
I got pregnant with my first child back in July 2014. At the time, I didn’t even know it was possible for me to get pregnant in the first place. My doctors told me I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and even though it was still possible to get pregnant, they made it seem like it would take a long time to conceive. We weren’t planning to have a baby just yet as that was my first month living with my then fiance (now husband). So to have ended up pregnant in less then a month without even trying was such a shock to me. My mom and husband seemed to know I was pregnant before I even knew. I decided to take a test and sure enough, it came back positive. I sometimes do see double so I thought it was just my vision messing with me so I sent a picture to my best friend at the time and she confirmed it was a positive test. I was so happy but also scared at the same time.
My second child was planned but it took us almost a year to conceive her. Much longer than me fast unplanned firstborn. I started to lose hope and figured we would never have another child together. I did end up pregnant in May 2019 but unfortunately it ended as a miscarriage. I ended up pregnant again shortly after with my rainbow baby. It was bittersweet having to grieve the baby I lost all while feeling blessed and ecstatic about the new baby I was carrying.
I had some complications during the pregnancies that were completely unrelated to my autism. It was more medical related, like increased asthma attacks, seizures and fainting. As far as the sensory processing aspect, I feel like it amplified all the normal pregnancy discomforts. Pregnancy hormones combined with sensory processing issues is such a struggle. My emotional dysregulation was more intense during my pregnancies. With my first, I was excessively emotional and with my second, I was excessively irritable. Naps was my best friend and fulfilling my cravings were very crucial to keeping me content. I did enjoy the baby movements and really felt deeply connected to both my babies from the moment I realized they were in my belly. With my second, I was more hypervigilant and paranoid in fear of losing her too. I wasn’t able to calm my nerves down. I really fixated on keeping up with the movements and even made trips to the hospital every time I had a scare just for peace of mind. The miscarriage really affected me emotionally. I was so afraid!
I ended up with really bad postpartum depression after both babies. That alone was difficult to manage. I definitely feel like the amount of masking I had to do most likely contributed to the extent of my depression. All my meltdowns had to be suppressed to make sure I don’t injure myself and the babies in my belly. I had to try so hard to contain my emotions that I couldn’t even regulate because I needed to keep stress levels low. I honestly suppressed a lot of my stimming as well because I didn’t want the doctors to assume I’m mentally unstable and then I end up with my babies taken away from me. I’m living in a world where autism is not accepted as it should be and a lot of people assume autistic people are incapable of functioning. I shouldn’t have to fear losing my babies just because of my different neurotype. Some may feel I was just overthinking, but unless you’ve tried living life being autistic, then you can’t possibly understand all the struggles, stereotypes and stigmas that are attached to being autistic. There’s organizations that literally want to eradicate autistic people so I highly doubt they would be happy if we’re happily living life and procreating and possibly passing down autism to our children since it is genetic.
As a mother, I’d say I’m actually very patient despite people’s assumptions of autistic mothers. I’m not perfect though. I do have many days where I run and hide in a dark room where I have little to no sensory input. I get overstimulated very easy but I have never been a danger to my kids under any circumstances. I’ve always been able to make sure the kids are in a safe place where they won’t get hurt or where I can see them from a distance and take my break as needed. I still find myself suppressing meltdowns because I can’t always make sure the kids are distracted and away from me and my main priority is to keep my kids safe. I have many coping skills to offset some of my bottled up emotions. Those coping skills are my special interests which I’ll talk about in another blog post.
One of the biggest reasons I started to unmask my autism is because both my kids were diagnosed with autism as well. I don’t want them to feel like they need to mask who they are to please people around them. I have to set a good example for them so I had to go out of my comfort zone and find my true self again and be her which was very difficult since I’ve masked for so many years. I’ve noticed I’m much happier when I allow myself to be myself without holding anything back. It feels so great to see my kids be themselves while watching me do the same. While in the process of finding myself and unmasking, I learned all about which accommodations work best for me in order to live a more effective and functional life. I purchased a bunch of stim toys to play with to counteract all the triggering sensory input. I also have noise cancelling earplugs when I need to block out the sensory input from noise as I’m very sensitive to it. If I’m too touched out, I ask my husband to take over for a few minutes and I’ll take a break. Now I have a sensory swing I like to cocoon myself in which has been tremendously helpful for me. With the right accommodations specific to my support needs, I’m able to function with very little issues. I have good days and I have bad days and that’s ok. I’m a great mother and my kids adore me. I have a very deep connection with them that no one else has. I feel since I’m autistic and so are they, there’s no better place for them to be than with me. I understand exactly what they need to thrive. It’s my job to pave a positive and healthy future for them and I feel like for the most part I’ve done an outstanding job. I still have a lot to learn but we can all learn together.
As I continue my autism journey trying to find myself, I hope my kids NEVER lose themselves. I hope to someday completely be unmasked. That’s still a work in progress but I’m getting there little by little.
The next blog post I’ll be talking about what it’s like being autistic and married to a non autistic person so stay tuned.