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Heartbeats: Autistic Pregnancy Diary - Part 2

This is the second entry in a series of diaries capturing an Autistic parent’s honest experiences of pregnancy, with all the dreams, hopes and fears it can bring, written by one of our peer supporters. You may also like to read Part 1.

Trigger Warning: Please note this post mentions previous pregnancy loss.

It’s 3.15am.

We are crammed into your toddler bed, my arm encircling your back.

The parallel lines on my pregnancy tests have been getting darker. What they are, are your new sibling’s test for existence, but that’s not so catchy.

He or she is undoubtedly here.

Or here for now. 5 weeks and counting.

Elation mixed with apprehension mixed with fear and joy all together.

My autistic brain has been doing what it was designed to do.... get in that gorgeous attention tunnel of all things baby...

I’ve researched maternity leave, SMP, scoured the APUK video project from bump to baby, planned my choice (is there really a choice) of birth, made an embryonic birth plan, come up with a loose schedule for mat leave, imagined us at various baby groups, toyed with starting my own, and tentatively browsed baby names. And downloaded three pregnancy apps to track your every move.

All this with the knowledge that, at any moment I may lose you. There is no certainty in this, but it soothes my brain to imagine and pave the way for you. I know your heart is beating by now, you look like an alien hammer head tadpole, and you are the size of a sesame seed.

I desperately hope I get to meet you, but I know I cannot control this. I know how this may go. The blood and the ache, and the long wait before the doctor tells me there is no heartbeat.

I want to go back and look at those scans, lodge in my mind how old your sibling was, how far they made it until they didn’t.

I want different for you, but I also know I can’t choose. All my planning won’t will you into this world. But I also won’t stop this imagining of you. I know now this is the flow I need, this is what sustains my autistic self. The focus on details, the organising, researching and planning.

Before I knew my neurotype I would have cajoled myself the whole way, berating my attempts, blocking myself from doing what I needed, because ‘that’s not what you do’, ‘other people don’t do that’, ‘why can’t you be normal?’

All these woundings I carried from way back, perhaps collecting them from when I first arrived, 2 and a half months early and walled in an incubator. From the beginning I was doing things I wasn’t supposed to. But maybe it was these things that kept me alive.

And now your brother has climbed into the toddler bed too. Four humans crammed together. Four hearts beating for now.

It’s 3.52am.

three snowdrops emerging from green grass and wet mud

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