News: Celebrating children and embracing the journey
Story by Sgt. Tara Cook
FORT STEWART, Ga. - Celebrating children—This is what many live for whether it be biological children, adopted children, stepchildren, God children, nieces, nephews, cousins or even students.
As a young girl I dreamed the same dream that many little girls do – grow up, get married and have beautiful little girls. As I grew into my teenage years that dream faded, and I did not imagine myself ever having children at all. This mindset followed me into my early twenties all the way through the first few years with my now husband. I had two stepchildren, a boy and a girl, and that was as much as I needed. But just as everyone had told me, that yearning for my own grew.
Following much conversation and soul searching - fast forward a couple years - I was 20 weeks pregnant and about to find out the gender of my child. I was sure I was having a girl, but when I heard the ultrasound technician say "It’s a boy,” I didn’t know how to react. I was brought up in a house full of girls, and I knew nothing about little boys… how hard could raising a boy be?
Fast forward a couple more years, I am experiencing a love like nothing I have ever known with my 18 month old not-so-baby boy. He was and is truly a "mommy’s boy." It was at this time, that our best friend’s young daughter found out she was pregnant, and when she mentioned adoption, without hesitation, we stepped up to welcome another blessing to our family in only six months.
Early last year we welcomed our second baby boy into the world. I held in my arms immediately after being born – a joy I did not get to experience with my first son as he was an emergency arrival. How hard could raising two boys be?
In the coming months, newborn in tow, we would start noticing serious developmental issues in our oldest that we could no longer blame on the reoccurring ear infections he had experienced for so long.
Countless concerns and doctor visits later, my oldest baby boy was diagnosed with Autism on Jan. 8, 2014 – a day I will never forget. It was as though someone had punched me in the gut. I was the definition of shock. No one can prepare you for hearing those words.
After processing and accepting what we were told we embraced the journey that was before us. We knew we wanted to give our ray of sunshine every opportunity to thrive and learn in the world in which he exists.
It has only been a few months since his diagnosis and the initiation of an intense approach to behavioral therapy, but the madness that my life has become, in a crazy way, has forced me to slow down and take a good look around me at the beauty in which I am surrounded by.
Balancing being a wife, a mother to two toddler boys - Autism aside - and a noncommissioned officer in the 3rd Infantry Division is no easy feat; but I see now, more than ever, how important it is to slow down and celebrate my little ones. I am blessed with two beautiful souls to mold and with every day and every milestone we celebrate as a family.
April is Autism Awareness month in conjunction with being the month of the Military child. I encourage you, parent or not, to celebrate the little ones in your life every single passing day!