When does a woman start thinking about her child?
When she sees the two pink lines..
When the doctor tells her that there is a heartbeat..
When she holds them for the first time..
I do not think so. A woman who wants a child probably thinks of that child long before that. Like when I was a kid, I wanted three kids!! My logic was – I love two brothers or two sisters because then the bonding is very special. Plus, I wanted one of each! So, two sons and one daughter, or two daughters and one son it had to be! I had some names picked out too.
A child is someone you wait for your whole life. You dream about them. You think about what they would look like. You imagine conversations with them. You imagine a life with them. You expect them to be a certain way. You look at other people’s children and wonder if yours would be like that or different.
But what happens when that child is actually a little different?
Pooja and Hridhaan
After a slight struggle to get pregnant and a bigger struggle through pregnancy, Pooja welcomed her son, Hridhaan. Pooja was on a bed rest for nine months.
“I literally saw only fans those days!” she recalls.
Needless to say, her son became the centre of her universe. There were moments of joy, laughter and pride, as it is in the life of new parents.
But some things were not going the way she had expected..
By the time Hridhaan turned two, he did not speak much.
‘Boys start speaking late!’ Pooja convinced herself.
Pooja thought she should just listen to her instinct, as a mother’s gut feeling would not fail her.
Another year passed. Not much changed. Pooja started getting very worried.
Hridhaan was three by now. She had started receiving complaints from his school about him being hyperactive.
Being hyperactive means he is smart! Pooja thought.
“I had no idea that not all kids are hyperactive! Not all boys are aggressive!” She recollects.
The school suggested she get an assessment. She proposed to change the school.
“It was as if I was in denial!” She looks back.
After a lot of deliberation, Pooja convinced herself to go for the tests.
She wanted to prove the school wrong!
The rest results came. Hridhaan was diagnosed with ASD – autism spectrum disorder.
Pooja was shattered.
This was something for which Pooja had no reference. The only thing close to this she knew about was a movie of Shah Rukh Khan – My Name Is Khan. Thus, began a long journey of therapies, counselling, searching for the right people, schools, reading, and research. Every time she thought of a child who was special, she thought of her own baby and the unknown child’s struggles would suddenly feel so familiar.
In all of this, Pooja’s husband was her rock. He stood by her. He gave her the confidence that they will get through this as a family.
We never know what we are capable of until we deal with the unknown. Pooja found her calling. An engineer by profession, she became a kindergarten teacher. Her empathy towards children helped her change her career path into something so much more fulfilling.
There is great progress
Two years have passed. Hridhaan is no more hyperactive. He no longer has ASD. He does have some social anxiety issues but he is independent. He is creative. More importantly, he is a happy child.
The day Pooja found out, she kept asking God,
It broke her heart to see other kids her son’s age dance on stage, participate in all kinds of activites, and her kid not being able to do so. But she did not lose HOPE.
Hridhaan may have a long way to go. But what matters is he has come a long way too.
From being a mother who had no idea how to deal with this, today Pooja is a mother who can tell others a thing or two about how to work through this. She has got it. She has made it.
Pooja decided to share this story to give hope to all other mothers who may be in her place today.
“I loved my child the way he is, worked with him without any expectations.. Love and acceptance is everything. Belief is strength and strength is what you can get for yourself and your child”
Don’t judge the child. Don’t judge the mother
I remember watching an episode of KBC recently wherein Ms. Arpita Yadav told Mr. Bachchan that when she saw her baby (with special needs) she thought this is not what she had asked for, and that it took her two years to accept her child the way he was. The child is doing much better now, and Ms. Yadav is helping other children with her experience.
I had seen articles online about how Ms. Yadav’s statements were insensitive. I do not think so. I think she was being honest and we should appreciate her honesty. I feel that a lot of us are kind enough to not judge children. However, we do not offer the same compassion to mothers. It takes a lot of courage to share a personal story about a child. A mother has a right to express her disappointment. It is only natural. Neither had this mother (Ms. Yadav) abandoned her child (like the father) so please, she does not need judgment from random people, who have no clue what she is going through.
I would like to thank Pooja for sharing her story. My humble request to everyone:
Please teach your children to not make fun of kids who are different. Kids are intuitive. A kid will get hurt with mocking remarks and looks.
Stop judging the mothers. Mothers are human. No need to glorify motherhood and put a mother on a pedestal from where she can only fall.
This is the first story to be published in the series, ‘What Kept Me Going’ wherein I am publishing a story of strength and hope shared by my readers. I am grateful to Pooja for trusting me with her story. Please be sensitive with your comments.
If you would like to share your story, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.