My Special Needs Son Made Me Beautiful

Kristi is one of my very favourite writers to read (if that makes sense). I stumbled across her blog, quite by accident, and very rapidly found myself hooked; on her words, on her thoughts, on the way she constructed her sentences, and above all, on the way she is absolutely *determined* to make the world a better place for her gorgeous son, Tucker. There are times when you read something, and it shoots right to the core of your soul and sits there, glittering with wonder. That’s what Kristi’s writing can do to me – I hope it does the same to you. It is my pleasure to introduce you to her, in her first Sisterwives post – Lizzi
I’d just had an amazing evening with the man I met. We’d eaten too much seafood at a trendy, but still little known downtown restaurant, risked a second 16-ounce beer, taken a walk along the waterside in the too-hot but almost tolerable July heat, and tentatively talked about the next date that we were sure to have. We’d suggestively touched one another on the arm, accidentally on purpose bumped hips, and were reveling in peacocking, sharing, and holding back, just enough. It was, after all, our first official date.

As far as first dates go, it wasn’t met with as much of the unknown as much as one would expect. We’d spent almost four weeks, online, sharing life stories, emails, photos, and our personal dreams and hurts. We’d emailed, and finally had the nerve to talk over the phone about our lives, and the fact that he had been married twice, and that I had been married once.


Oh, did we talk. His early emails were some of the best of my life. We were also both hesitant, and a little bit broken.


We were together already but both hesitant to trust again.


Divorced. Damaged.


There had been some healing time for both of us, though. We’d pursued and found enough of healing, broken, and and all of the betweens. We’d grown up and grown older, and were ready for a new relationship that might be able to thrive, regardless of most of the bullshit, the insurmountable barriers, and our broken pasts.


Of course, this perfect projectory meant that on our third date, I let him go. I was sure that my late-night confession given with tears shed into a muffled and selfish pillow would mean that he’d quietly leave, close the door as softly as possible, and never look back. After all, he already had two children which came with two ex wives that would be in his life forever. Saying the words “I want a baby,” followed by the too-fast, tripping over themselves words of “and of courseIknowYouAlreadyHaveTwoSoIfYouWantToLeaveIUnderstand…”


I was convinced that telling this man that I wanted to have a baby would be the dealbreaker.


He stayed.


He’s still here. We got married, and well, it’s the next part of the story that really matters, I suppose. Although, with that said, all of the parts of all of our stories matter. Maybe, in this case, and all of the cases, it’s simply the telling of them that counts.


This man agreed to have a baby with me. I’ll spare you the details and the heartbreak and the hope and the eventual givingupness to say that during the month that we didn’t try to get pregnant, we did.


And, that, when I was 40, the little dude planted inside of me stuck. Imagine that. Which, really, although this story begins at falling in love, it truly begins here, because of today.
When pregnant, I was terrified. All of my doctor paperwork was stamped with the somewhat embarrassing and foreboding AMA (advanced maternal age) warning. When, at 26 weeks, I was identified with having an incompetent cervix, I tried, once again, to not have any hope. The odds were against me, and coworkers sympathized with the fact that I might have a baby, but that he’d likely be *insert comment and derogatory slur here,* due to my advanced maternal age.


I guess the joke – if there is one – is on all of us, though.


While I worried about having a deformed or special needs baby while he was in utero, he was born. And from the minute I laid eyes on him, I have known that I will do everything I can to make this world a better place for him. I could have cared less what was wrong or right with him. I was blessed to become a mom, and I was very thankful, and terrified over it.


When my son Tucker was born, there were no concerns. The tests and the APGAR scores were fine and perfect, and he latched onto breastfeeding before I did. He taught me about nature, nurture, and life. He taught me about living, because living is more important than the day to day. He taught me to re-appreciate stars and sun and that the leaves on trees both fallen and reborn. Kinda like I was. Fallen and reborn.


Reborn to a new world, with new knowledge. Now, I know that all of us are imperfectly perfect, exactly as we are. That all of us are broken and whole and fully and insanely beautiful, no matter what we look like, sound like, or feel like.


My son has taught me that fireflies are magical, that butterflies are first chrysalises, which is an important distinction from cocoons that I’m not sure I still understand – but he does – and he’s shown me light that I’d never have hoped for on that dark and tear-soaked pillow night, long ago, when I gave his dad an ultimatum.


My son has developmental delays. His speech sucks, compared to that of his peers. He struggles with language, control, smells, light, and sound. And none of these struggles are because of what I went through with his dad, or with my body, or because of the age in which I conceived him. And none of these struggles define who he is. He’s just a little five year old boy who loves fart jokes, water guns, the beach, life, and his mama.


Many of us struggle with special needs, and knowing that our children are not typical. It hurts to see the new drawings in their kindergarten class be so much “less than” their peers’ drawings. It does. But there’s also something perfect about it all. After all, our kids are here, and teaching us more than we’re teaching them. And this life? To me, that’s what it’s all about.


My son’s delays have absolutely nothing to do with who he is. He is a chrysalis after all. And every single day that I am blessed to be his mama on this earth, I marvel at who he is today, and who he will become. That chrysalis will fly. His caterpillar self, his language-struggling self, and his soon to be flying selves are all complete, imperfectly perfect, and insanely beautiful. And, because of him, so am I. Because of him, we all are.
Tucker and mom
Kristi Rieger Campbell’s passion is writing and drawing stupid-looking pictures for her blog, Finding Ninee. It began with a memoir about her special-needs son Tucker, abandoned when she read that a publisher would rather shave a cat than read another memoir. Kristi writes for a variety of parenting websites including Huffington Post Parents, has been published in four popular anthologies, received 2014 BlogHer’s Voice of the Year People’s Choice Award, and was a proud cast member of the DC Listen to Your Mother show. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. 

You can watch Kristi’s Listen To Your Mother piece below. It. Is. Stunning.