When you ask parents what the hardest transition was, in terms of number of children, you will get all kinds of answers. None to one is a big one, of course, but for us, going from two to three was a big deal. You are outnumbered then. The ratio is no longer even. And for us, we had this other thing going on with Gillian called autism (although, we didn’t know that’s what it was at the time), which tends to complicate things. Gillian and Anna were 11 and 1\2 months apart, and when Gillian met her, she couldn’t even keep focused on her. I don’t know that she was even aware of who or what she was, whereas Addison was almost anticipating Gillian when she was born. And when Anna was born, well, Addison was a pro at the big sister thing.
Once we got home, Gillian acted as if Anna were just a baby doll. It took her a few weeks to realize she was a living thing, and it wasn’t until about 6 weeks or more that Gillian started to pay her any real attention. At this point in Gillian’s development, she was what we thought to be the perfect baby. She was quiet and required little attention. She loved the television, and she would get lost in a Blue’s Clues episode or watching any kind of cartoon. She loved singing and finger plays and was quite fascinated with her hands. The only thing that was difficult was that her language was delayed and she was also slow to walk. And if she got upset, boy, she was upset. I remember vividly grabbing the camcorder one day while she was having a fit in the doorway of the kitchen. My parents referred to my own temper fits as a child as “Eli’s”, after a hot tempered cousin of my dad’s named Eli. I was commenting on her having an Eli episode in the video, chuckling a bit. This was one of the first moments I would look back on with much guilt after I knew what I did about her autism. Gillian could not self-soothe. Fits would go on for 20 to 30 minutes at a time, full fledged, without any way to comfort her. She would arch her back and scream, and scream, and scream. It was heartbreaking to watch as she got older and the fits seemed to escalate. The other part of it was that it was very difficult to figure out what set her off. We would learn later that her sensory sensitivities were usually to blame. She had a great many issues with clothing and shoes. She even walked down barefoot for her confession of faith last year in front of our church because her shoes were an issue. It was gut wrenching to endure, and our first months of discovering what was going on would be some of the most difficult months of our lives.
Fortunately for us, Anna was an excellent baby. She was very laid back and she LOVED her sisters. She would watch them and giggle at them. She was a great sleeper and nurser. As a matter of fact, she nursed the longest of ALL of our children, thus far. She was splendid. A true delight.
Now, not to overlook Anna, but this period in our lives was very much consumed by and with Gillian. At 16 months, she only had three words and did not use them with any purpose or consistency. She avoided eye contact and being held. She would only easily go to Adam, our parents, and me, and most of the time, she preferred Adam. She slept very well. Her naps would go on forever. I would learn later that this was probably because her day was so exhausting for her since her body processed sensory input different from everyone else. I could go on and on with the explanation for life with Gillian at that stage of the game, but I never once regretted her birth or the one that came immediately after it. The reason why all this is important to this story is the space that we both feel that God carved into our lives during this difficult time.
We didn’t get pregnant, and as you can tell from our previous stories, that has never been hard for me. In all honestly, but without trying to gross you out, our frequency did not change. If anything, Adam and I felt comfort and solace in our “time” together. It took us away from how overwhelming life with a special needs child had become. Yet time after time, we produced no offspring. It wouldn’t be until June 2005 that we would become pregnant. I know what you are thinking, “That’s only a year later. That’s not space!” But the baby wasn’t due for another nine months, and for us, that was a huge space! Unfortunately, this pregnancy would end in a miscarriage at 7 weeks gestation, and let me just say, miscarriage is NEVER easy. I would have to learn that sometimes God’s plan allows heartache and disappointment.