Thrown In At The Deep End: Being A First-Time, Young, Special Needs Mother

Emmy Heaton by Emmy Heaton Additional Needs

Emmy Heaton

Emmy Heaton

Hi I'm Emmy, mum to AJ who has cerebral palsy.

I got pregnant a month after my 19th birthday, it was a huge shock, but a welcomed one.

I knew from that moment my life would change forever, but I never thought for one second I’d be living the life I am now.

Whilst pregnant, me and my partner still enjoyed days out together, trips out for our tea or things as simple as sitting down to watch a film together.

We enjoyed shopping trips, picking out cots, clothes and everything else a new baby needs.

We excitedly bickered daily over things such as whether the baby would be a mummy’s boy or a daddy’s boy, what he would enjoy doing, who would teach him to ride his first bike, take his first steps, teach him to swim etc?

We had no idea how hard any of those ‘normal’ things would turn out to be.

I was 19 at the time my son made his dramatic entrance into the world, and I had to grow up, literally overnight.

Born not breathing and subsequently going on to spend 14 long days in NICU, I was certainly thrown into the deep end.

Relying on monitors and machines to stay alive, the baby I should’ve been holding close, smothering in love and kisses, was laid alone and cold on the cooling mattress in his incubator.

The days I expected to be cuddling my new baby, showing him off to family friends turned out to be the days I spent watching my new baby fight for his life, with no visitors except for two hours a day for grandparents.

Days I had anticipated to be filled with congratulations cards, balloons and happy people became days I were receiving sympathy cards, “Thinking of you during this hard time”, from people who didn’t know what else to say.

2 months before my 21st birthday, a time that I’d always thought would’ve been celebrated. My son was diagnosed with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy.

It didn’t change him as a person, he was still the same little boy I’d always known and loved. It changed me though.

Again, I felt like I’d taken another massive leap into, ‘adulthood’ - not many 21-year-olds have to deal with all this.

The big words; "diagnosis", "prognosis", the worry and fear for the future.

3 weeks before my 21st, my son suffered a prolonged tonic colonic seizure.

It lasted over 50 minutes and nearly took my precious boy’s life.

Again, this was something no new mum, young mum or any mum for that matter, should have to see.

Recently, he got the diagnosis of severe autism.

We’ve also been told he needs a gastrostomy inserting to help with his feeding issues.

How does my brain, that was once filled with, “What to do this weekend..” questions, deal with all this information?!

I’ve written this as a lot of the mums I meet on Facebook forums relating to my son's conditions etc, are all older than me, I know I’m not alone, but I feel it a lot!

I’m not usually one for saying, “Things happen for a reason”, or the, “God chose you”, sayings.

However, I do believe my son and his, ‘problems’, have changed me as a person.

He’s made me stronger.

He’s made me wiser.

He’s made me aware of so much more than I could ever have imagined.

He’s made me, me.

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