Autistic mom: ‘Everything that makes me upset comes together in a baby girl’

Celine wasn’t diagnosed with autism until she was 27. She was studying at the time. For years, she’s cared for all kinds of mental and physical complaints, but no treatment has worked. After sitting at home a few times, her boyfriend suggested: Don’t you have autism?

“It really ran in my family, but I had a completely different picture,” she says. “It couldn’t be that. There was less information about women and autism at that time than now, but what I found prompted me to face the facts: I recognized myself in what I read.”

Difficulty with changes and lack of clarity, sheer need for structure and outlook, sensitivity to stimuli: yes, that bothered her all. “I carried myself on causing other complaints, including depression and physical pain. I had a lot of stress and tension throughout the day and had to analyze everything that came to me. I seem to be different from the others in this regard…”

On the one hand, the diagnosis was comforting: she finally knew what she had been carrying all these years and could handle it. But she also worried her: “Can I still work?,” I thought. What’s my life like now, if I can just do everything I do by going beyond my limits? Can I still have a family?”

Doubts about motherhood

Celine, who now also works as an autism coach, has heard from many autistic women that they have doubts about motherhood. “I doubted myself whether I would be able to handle it in terms of taxes. I was afraid of overload and overstimulation. I really wanted to be a mother, but I didn’t want to fail. You want so much to show that you’re making the right decision, but you find out That’s only when the time is right.”

However, the desire to have children overcame fears. “I had a good balance in myself, and now know what to pay attention to, when I am overstimulated and when I have to take a break. I have learned a lot about myself in recent years, and I also have a good network around who I am. It has become too much and I need it To get rid of the stimulus, I know I can appeal to others, my partner of course. And if I have to give up on other things, then it is but so. That way I was confident enough to go for a baby.”

Read at length about all possible scenarios, as you always do with everything. “Information is my guide, I always want to get to the core of everything.” But she did not think of a single scenario: her son was born six weeks earlier. “I know it can’t be planned, but I never thought that could happen either. I lost my placenta and it was so sharp. Totally messy and stressful, so unrealistic.”

At that point, adrenaline took over for autism, she says. “You’re alive, you’ve come to terms with what happened to all of us. No brain can process such a thing, whether you have autism or not. It was severe. In hospital, after emergency caesarean and first panic, at least it was not.” There is still a structure in the house, and after three and a half weeks we are on our own.”

Temple gone, no overview

Daily life itself can be overwhelming for Celine, and now all kinds of new things are coming to her. Big Changes, Mystery, and Unpredictability: Motherhood basically involves everything you normally avoid. While everything you normally need, it just disappears.

“The structure is hard to find, the house is no longer a place where I can relax and unmotivate, there is no overview. Not everything is the same anymore. It became too much in my head. At first I was very nervous about how to deal with that. Whatever makes you Being concerned with autism actually comes together in an infant.”

She said it took some research, and it still does. “Usually, as I said, I have a lot of information to hold on to. But the child has no firm evidence. People said: It’s a matter of feeling. So how then? I guess. I find it difficult to work next to ‘rules’ and more sense. If Rowan sleeps an hour instead From two hours, I can get stuck in that. Now what?”

“I know logically that it doesn’t work that way, but my head really benefits from going the way I expect it to. This is something I have to find a way into. I notice that I still find it difficult to maintain balance. I have to reinvent myself as a mother.”

primitive feeling

However, things are going better than expected. “I kind of have a primal feeling or whatever you call it, that you’re going to go through such a small person at any cost, no matter how tired you are. It keeps me going. It’s like getting some extra strength, or whatever ensures that you can just do it.” I think this is a positive experience and this is also something that may give other autistic mothers confidence.”

It remains to be seen how things unfold when her departure is over. “I’m going to start working again in a couple of weeks, I think that’s exciting. But I also looked closely at how to rebuild everything as well as possible and let it come together. I’ve always said: I’d rather work than I’m going on vacation because it flows so well and saves so much.” From the structure. That’s why I’m looking forward to it again, but now I have to try to combine it.”

balanced enough?

As a coach and autism psychiatrist, Celine also helps other women with autism who are experiencing or choosing motherhood. “As far as choice is concerned, I would say: Do not let your autism be the guiding principle. Instead, ask yourself whether you know yourself well enough and whether you are sufficiently balanced, as it should in fact apply to Everyone who wants to have children. Do you know your strengths? Your weaknesses, do you know your limits, do you have a good network? If that’s okay, nothing should stand in the way of a nice family life.”

Think carefully about whether you really want children, she says. People with autism often do things because they are supposed to, but having a child is not something you should do, you should only do it if you want to. Good to know: During and after pregnancy, all kinds of guidelines are available that can help you.” At the hospital’s POP clinic, they look very carefully at what you need. You can always count on that.”

Celine also advises expectant mothers with autism to create a plan with a pregnancy counselor that you can refer to if you become overstimulated and things don’t go well. And above all: “Trust yourself. It’s hard and overwhelming at times, but you’ll find your way through it and it just gets better.”

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