I’m pretty sure that my husband thought he could only make girls. When we finally got pregnant we were both pretty sure it was a girl. He told me he was fine with that, but the emotion at the ultrasound when the tech showed us it was a boy said it all. We were going to have a son!

Less than two years later we were at another ultrasound that had a whole different meaning for us. This time the mood was different. After so many complications with our first son, we couldn’t have cared less if it was a girl or boy. We just wanted healthy. We listened as the tech told us each organ was healthy and breathed a huge sigh of relief. THEN we heard “it’s a boy”. We would have another son!

There are no words for what is in my heart when I think of these two little boys. I truly love them “up to the moon and back” and even more. This deep love doesn’t come without challenges. I constantly worry about my inadequacies. It’s such a balancing act raising a special needs child together with a typically developing child. I have to make sure they both feel loved the same even though their needs are so different. Will they understand? Will they both get the right amount of attention? How can I nurture their relationship in a way that will create a best friendship and not a rivalry? All I can do is pray for direction and hope I get it right….

Bridger was conceived through in vitro fertilization. I desperately wanted him. I can’t even describe the feeling of taking a blood test, driving home and laying on the bed next to my husband waiting for the phone to ring and have a nurse tell us either that we’re pregnant or that we just spent 10k for nothing. Ugh. Talk about pressure. It rang. We were pregnant and the journey began…

I fell in love with the name Bridger. My friend heard it at her son’s little league game.(Thanks Tosh!) I love the symbolism of a bridge. I felt like this little boy would be just that, a bridge between our daughters’ other family and ours. We’d also been attending The Bridge Concert for years. It was just the right name. We gave him my dad’s middle name, Alonzo. I LOVE my dad. I wanted this little guy to have his name.

At 27 weeks I was getting really swollen. At my check up they said they would watch my blood pressure. They wanted me to go to the perinatologist just as a precaution. I left work on a Friday with my office door open and my computer on to go to the appointment. I was totally unprepared for what was to come.

I met my husband at the hospital and we chatted about where we would get lunch after the appointment. During the ultrasound it became clear that something wasn’t right. They admitted me to the hospital and 2 long days later they decided to do an emergency C-Section. The next weeks were a whirlwind as my little 2lb baby fought for his life in the newborn ICU. Finally, 3 months after his birth, one day after his due date, we took our cute boy home on oxygen. The next year was packed full of stress and doctors appointments.

After the first couple years we were feeling really good about Bridger’s health. The neurologist scared us into believing that he might not walk, but even though it took awhile, he did. He was WAY behind developmentally but everyone kept telling us it was because he was so premature. We just kept plugging away with early intervention services which included physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, etc.  We had high hopes that he would “catch up” by the time he was five.

When Bridger was two I took him in for an eye check up. I wasn’t too worried because with all the health problems he had suffered through that were typical with preemies, he had never had eye issues. I described to the eye doctor his lack of eye contact and how he stares at lights. He said “His eyes are fine. You need to have him tested for Autism.” Huh?!? This was the first time Autism had been mentioned to me. I was ticked off. I thought to myself “Just check his eyes dude.”  We had dealt with so many professionals, no one told us about Autism or that preemies were 20% more likely to have it. I was so mad as I told our trusted pediatrician about my encounter with the eye doctor. He just nodded and said “I think we should have him tested.” What?!?

As I read about Autism, I knew. Our little Bridger had a textbook case. We had him tested at the University of Utah about 6 weeks after his eye doctor appointment. He tested at the low functioning end of the spectrum when he was 2 and ½ years old.

Since that time our life has been turned upside down as we have tried to decide on the best course of treatment for our little guy. We have spent thousands and thousands of dollars already. Our health insurance hasn’t paid a dime. We keep reading and struggling to make the right decisions as we watch our savings account deplete. Everyone swears by a different treatment and says “you know your son the best”. We do know our son but we don’t know Autism. We want answers! What do we need to do to give him the best chance in his life???

After 16 months of an in-home ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) Program combined with the public special needs preschool, we recently switched exclusively to an ABA Preschool. It’s expensive and it’s a half hour away from our home, but we have high hopes that our non verbal 4 year old is going to make great strides here…

We love our sweet Bridger! He is our greatest blessing and our biggest challenge. He makes our hearts swell with his laughter and he runs us ragged with his mischief.  We want so much for him. We want to give him all that we can, everything that he needs to succeed! We’re just still trying to figure out what that is.

Noah was the best surprise of my life. Since we had to do in vitro to get Bridger, getting pregnant in the year after his birth was the farthest thing from my mind. When Bridger was about 10 months old we were finally starting to settle back into life. Stress levels were going down and we were feeling like we were going to survive the craziness. Suddenly, I was feeling exhausted again. It crossed my mind that I might be pregnant but I didn’t even mention it to Chris. I had taken so many negative pregnancy tests in the prior year it just seemed ridiculous to entertain the idea that I could be pregnant. Feeling stupid, I went to the store and got a test. After work I took the test and it was POSITIVE!!! I couldn’t even think about it. We were still pretty traumatized from our previous pregnancy. I took the positive test, wrote a note that said “Oh S***! Here we go again!”, put it on the counter, snuggled up with Bridger on the couch and took a nap. I didn’t wake up until I heard Chris yell, “Are you serious???” Lol.

In spite of my paranoia, my second pregnancy went perfectly. Noah is Mr. Personality. He is funny and fun. He’s full of energy and full of life. He’s curious and always asking questions. He’s also sensitive and worries a bit. I think he gets that from his sister, Sydney, although my husband would probably tell you he gets it from his mother. Ha! We have watched Noah closely for signs of Autism since studies show that if you have one child with it your other children are more likely to have it. We are thrilled that he is almost 3 and is hitting all of his developmental milestones on time!

Noah sure loves his brother. He’s still too young to notice that he’s different. Noah was the biggest blessing for Bridger. He pushes him to play and makes him participate. He models things for him. I’m sure glad that Heavenly Father sent him to us. I don’t know that I would have had the courage to have another baby but our family wouldn’t be complete without him.

Out of all of our kids I sometimes feel like Noah’s the lucky one. He doesn’t have to deal with 2 families, he doesn’t have autism. He gets to live life stress free. Other times I feel sad for him that he will grow up watching his siblings struggle with their trials and might get the rep as “the golden child”. I wish I could take all the hard things away from all my kids. I know, I know they need challenges to help them grow and all that business, but I’d still rather put my arms around them and protect them from it all….

“…Because we made you, my darlin, with the love in each of our hearts. We were a family, my darling, right from the start…”  –Wilco