What it’s like being autistic and becoming a mother

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.

Masking Autism

I’m back again with another important blog post. If you’re reading this, thank you so much. This blog post is about masking autism. Autistic masking is when a autistic person hides their autistic traits to blend in with neurotypical people. There’s many reasons why a autistic person resorts to masking and in this blog post, I will go over all the reasons I personally masked my traits.

When I tried explaining masking to a neurotypical friend of mine, she implied that everyone masks. While it is true that everyone can pretend to be someone they’re not or even pretend to get along with someone they don’t really like, autistic masking is much deeper than just pretending. When autistic people mask, it’s not just one incident or situation. It is literally an entire shift in their whole personality. When I mask, I suppress meltdowns, avoid stimming in public or around my loved ones, avoid using echolalia as one of my form of speech, force eye contact even when it doesn’t naturally feel good for me, bottle up my emotions so I don’t have to hear others tell me I’m too sensitive or over exaggerating, and force myself to stay in a environment that I know is causing sensory overload. The list goes on…

I can pass as a neurotypical when I mask which is why I get comments all the time like “I didn’t know you were autistic” or “You don’t look autistic” or “I would’ve never guessed”. What people see in public is not who I really am. I altered my whole autistic personality just to be accepted in this world because autism is not truly accepted no matter how much you preach autism acceptance. There’s still so much ableism going on.

I started masking from a very young age. Even though I was diagnosed a little late at 11 years old, I still knew long before then that I was different but didn’t know exactly why. I was bullied for being the weird one in school and other places. I was abused at home by my mothers now ex husband for most of my autistic traits. I was abused for refusing to eat foods that were triggers for me due to my sensory processing issues. I was still forced to eat the food and abused when I puked it because I couldn’t tolerate it. I was abused for making simple mistakes because the instructions weren’t broken down step by step for me. I was abused for my echolalia because he thought I was mocking him or talking back. I was abused for having meltdowns because it was seen as just a tantrum and bad behavior. I was abused for sensory seeking behaviors. I was also abused for not giving eye contact. I was forced to comply with the neurotypical standards that were being pushed on me. I was never able to be my true self without being abused or bullied. I didn’t feel safe at home and didn’t feel safe at school either. I never did well with social cues so making friends wasn’t really easy for me. I was often called the R word and made fun of. It was mainly because I was the only autistic person in a mainstream class filled with neurotypical students; so of course I was the perfect target.

I remember when I was about 9 years old, I went to the park to play and try to make new friends. Due to the fact I struggle with social cues, I didn’t understand that these 2 older girls didn’t really want to be my friend and that they weren’t laughing WITH me, they were laughing AT me. So they lured me to the woods and they both grabbed me and tried to toss me over this concrete wall where the train tracks were and a train was actually coming. Luckily I managed to fight and squirm my way out of their grip and was able to run away. I couldn’t even tell my mom what happened because I had already learned to bottle up my emotions and stay quiet. I wasn’t going to be taken seriously. After all, she didn’t take the abuse I was going through seriously because in her own words, “love is blind”. I basically almost got killed for being so different when all I wanted was to be accepted and to make friends.

After the abuse at home went on long enough, I told a girl at school which she then relayed the message to the teachers aide which then was passed down to the school principal. Police and child protective services were involved and I eventually got taken away from my mom and my custody was given to my uncle in New Jersey. So I went to live with my uncle and grandma. I had to start a new school which I was bullied there too. Living with my uncle and grandma was a whole other set of complications because they didn’t understand autism either. But I do have to say, that I probably still would not have gotten my diagnosis if it wasn’t for CPS getting involved. They ordered that my uncle and grandma take me for a psychiatric evaluation which resulted in me getting diagnosed finally. The diagnosis process is for another blog post maybe.

So to sum everything all up, I masked my autism, to protect myself. Masking was a trauma response. I’m not proud of it at all because it has caused major issues for me and my mental health. It has led to me attempting to commit suicide. I started self harming. Even now, I’m still having an identity crisis because I lost myself. Trying to find the real me again is so hard and exhausting because I still have so much pressure on me from neurotypical people who still don’t understand my struggles and they try to invalidate all my emotions and my perspective on things. I still mask my autism today but I can honestly say I have unmasked quite a bit. Masking for so long sent me into a autistic burnout. If you want to read more about autistic burnout, I have a blog post about it here.

I hope that someday I’ll be able to be authentically and unapologetically autistic. I’m happier when I’m my true self than when I’m masking. I need to do what is healthier for me and not care about how uncomfortable it makes others feel. I’ve been uncomfortable all my life trying to be a people pleaser. It’s time that it stops and I focus on myself. If people can’t handle me, then they’re the wrong people to be a part of my circle. I don’t need people who don’t accept me for who I am. I don’t need people who constantly invalidate me when I do try to show the real me. Also, when a autistic person tries to explain to you about masking and why it’s so harmful, please don’t downplay their struggles by saying “everyone masks”; because not everyone is autistic so you can’t possibly begin to know our struggles. Autistic people process the world differently so we are not the same as neurotypical people and our struggles are not the same either. Please be mindful and respectful and all should be fine.

I’ll end this blog post here by saying that I have added a merch page on my site where I’ll be offering all my handmade/custom made autism items. I figured since I mentioned in this post about being unapologetically autistic, it’s the perfect time to tell you that I have a “unapologetically autistic” shirt available along with other shirt designs if you would like to check them all out. Click here

I Have Autism by Jessica Jenkins (Poem)

I posted this poem I wrote on my Facebook author page back in August but I feel like I should share it here with you all too

I Have Autism by Jessica Jenkins

I have autism

I avoid eye contact

But I frequently eye track

I struggle to learn and often get things twisted

But I’m also smart and extremely gifted

I sit still and stare blankly into space

But I also have a brain wired to make my thoughts race

Sometimes I’m too shy to speak and sometimes I speak too much

There’s days I can hug everyone but I also have days I hate being touched

Sometimes I get anxious and scared so I run and hide

And sometimes I don’t even mind being outside

Sometimes I’m sensitive to loud and high pitched noise

And sometimes I can’t even lower my voice

Sometimes I rock back and fourth

And sometimes it’s not enough and I slam some doors

Sometimes I rather be alone and pace

And sometimes I rather be tightly embraced

Sometimes I climb trees higher and higher

And sometimes I’m overstimulated and tired

Sometimes I scream and cry

And sometimes I head bang and people wonder why

Sometimes I’m calmly humming

And sometimes my fingers are annoyingly drumming

Sometimes I want fluffy blankets wrapped around me

And sometimes clothes make me feel like I can’t breathe

Sometimes I have no filter and can be mean

Autism can be very mysterious with no in betweens

I have autism

Final Kitten Update 💔

It’s been a couple days and I’ve been dreading this post. With a heavy heart, I’m letting you guys know that the kitten didn’t survive. I really tried so so hard. With every fiber of my being, I hoped he would thrive and grow to be a handsome (yes it’s a boy) orange tabby. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned. We have come to a decision to cremate him and keep the ashes in a beautiful urn. We named him Pooh. And the urn will say “I tried to save you but God needed another angel”. I’ve been a complete wreck and was not expecting this horrific reality. I just hope that in the two days he was with us, he knew that he was loved.

A little memorial we set up for Pooh before we drove him to the animal hospital to set up cremation 🕯🐱

If you want to run to YouTube and watch the video about him, please feel free to do so. Here’s the link:

Thank you to everyone who prayed and wished us well because God only knows that I’m NOT ok.

I Saved a Kitten’s Life 👀🥰🐱

I didn’t think this would be what my first blog post would be about but this is something I just had to tell you guys about. So today, October 14th, 2020, my husband and I ran some errands while our son, Aidan was in school. He drove me to my moms because I had a 3pm therapy session and a 4pm psychiatrist appointment. When we got to my moms, my husband kissed me goodbye and left to pick up our son from school, so it was just me and our 9 month old daughter. I heard high pitched meowing. I assumed it was one of the 3 week old kittens that my moms cat, Luna had. I thought maybe one of them were caught up in something under the bed. Something told me to check, so I did. I looked under and they seemed fine but then I look over to the other cat, Booboo, and I see something moving. I thought maybe she stole Luna’s kittens again so I looked back at Luna and counted her babies and all 3 were accounted for. I looked back at Booboo a little harder and then it hit me that she had babies. I was shocked because no one was home to witness it. I tried to count how many kittens she had from a distance but couldn’t tell for sure. But there was one kitten that caught my eye and it was the one that was curled up alone and wasn’t moving. The rest were nursing and huddled together with mom. I moved the head board out of my way and reached down for that kitten. It was ice cold to the touch and for a second it made me jump back but then I quickly realized it needed some kind of intervention or it would die of hypothermia. I picked it up and wrapped it with a blanket and started huffing my warm breath to warm the kitten faster. He wasn’t moving or making any noise. At first I thought he was dead but I felt a faint heartbeat against my palm. I called my mom to ask her how far she was from home and to tell her what was going on. She was in disbelief just like I was. Meanwhile, my 9 month old daughter, MaKayla, was still in her car seat and started crying to get out. At that moment, I felt so overwhelmed because I was stuck between comforting my daughter and saving a dying kitten. I got ahold of myself and got back into focus. I took MaKayla out her car seat and breastfed her while I held the kitten in the blanket. He started to warm up and he started meowing and moving around slowly. The sound of him vocalizing was peaceful, beautiful music to my ears. At that moment, I knew he had a fighting chance and it was all because I was at the right place at the right time. My mom arrived and helped with MaKayla while I got Booboo and all her kittens out from under the bed. I was trying to see if the kitten would finally nurse but he was still a little too weak to latch on and Booboo didn’t seem to have an interest in the little runt of the litter. I tried to get another cat, Cleo, who recently delivered a stillborn kitten to try and nurse this kitten but she hissed and wanting nothing to do with it. I felt stuck and helpless. It was cutting close to my appointment time so I had to make a decision – either cancel my appointment or take the kitten with me. I took him with me because due to how overwhelmed I was, I figured therapy was a must so I could let out some steam. I ran up the hill pushing the stroller with one arm and holding the kitten in the other and arrived to my appointment 4 minutes late but it was all good. My therapist heard the whole story from me and was proud of me for my efforts in trying to save the kitten.

I had my therapist take a picture of me while holding my baby and the kitten

After my appointments, my husband was already waiting for me outside. We got MaKayla in the car and I hopped in and we took off to PetSmart so I can buy some kitten formula. I went in with the kitten and I asked these workers for help in finding the best formula. As I explained what happened, I started crying and they felt so bad. They helped me pick up the best stuff and then I paid, thanked them and went back to the car and we drove home. I filled up the bottle and tried to feed him but it didn’t seem like he was getting anything so we took a syringe and filled it and I fed him that way and he drank about 5ml’s. So far he’s doing alright and I hope that he continues to thrive and make me proud.

I weighed him and he’s 1.4 ounces which is really small. I’ll be weighing him every other day to check his progress and I will be feeding him every 3 hours. I’ll keep you all updated on his well-being. I hope to have good news for y’all. I hope and pray that he makes it and is healthy. We do plan on keeping him if he survives because I already got attached. Anyway, stay tuned for an update on this little fighter and for other blogs too. Thank you for reading this if you made it to the end. I hope y’all enjoying reading about this heart warming experience of mine.