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This Exit, No Return

A Reader’s Theatre, By Joy Cowdery continued...

Susan: Sometimes I laugh. Sometimes, I brag. It has made me a stronger person and more patient mother. I feel empowered when I see my child doing new things I thought she would never be able to do.

Dee: When I was traveling down the West Virginia Turnpike, I saw the sign “This exit, no return.” I had to smile. I am on that exit now. As I wind down this unknown road I can choose to panic and desperately seek my way back to the freeway, or I can enjoy the view as travel to find a new path.

Jim: The beginning?  Wow... that’s always the hardest.
Before entering the NICU, we had to scrub and gown from head to foot. I felt like we were entering into a contaminated area. The nurse led us to Aaron’s glass-walled crib. He was so tiny and frail with respirator tubes and IV lines running from a row of syringes. They were infusing fluid into his transparent body. He had a feeding tube, a heater, monitors constantly beeping, and an oxygen saturation light. They told me his total blood volume was only 5 tablespoons. I spoke his name and at the sound of my voice his eyebrows drew together. “It’s Daddy,” I said, and burst into tears.

Beth Ann: Craven was born four weeks premature. I watched him for developmental milestones daily. Everything seemed to going well for the first five months. All of a sudden, at six months, I noticed that Craven was not cooing or babbling like a typical six-month-old. Of course, my mother and husband thought I was crazy. I was “just looking for something to be wrong.”  Just to shut me up, my husband said, “Just go have him tested so you can quit worrying.” I did. Craven was started in speech therapy the next day. At ten months old, my husband and I were told by three therapists that they thought Craven had autism. Now they were telling me that there was something wrong…with Craven… with our genes…with our unborn child I was now carrying. What had I done?
My husband cried immediately, “Not my son. He acts nothing like Rain Man.” Four years into this, my parents and his are still not convinced.

Karen: Our life as we knew it was over. Making adjustments by just having a baby was enough, but talk about overwhelming. I was numb and so was my husband. That first week I didn’t have time to think about much. I was sent home to wait and worry if my son was going to live. I would sit and cry and avoid people. They had said that they could “fix” him once he was born. I just kept thinking, why is God punishing me? What could I have done? So many questions and no answers...Joey is my first and only child. I don’t know what it is like to have a “normal” child. I have never been able to fully enjoy just being a new mom.

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