Please excuse the extremely long post, but Ryan and I agreed it was important to document this year and everything our family has been through as a sort of family history and reminder of the lessons learned.
After reading a friend's look back at 2011 of her life via blog, I decided to take a look back at what I had posted throughout the year. It being a very challenging year, I wondered how much of it I had actually documented. I wondered what my perspective had been and feelings I'd felt throughout the year that had been softened by perspective and growth. I knew there had been months of silence. The first month, January, I only posted once, here. As I read, I couldn't help but say to myself, "If you only knew then what you would endure this year." I would have never imagined such a year up for myself, but now looking back its been a trying but wonderful year!
January - Gavin received his results from his developmental delay intake and was approved for the intensive early intervention program through Parent Infant Programs (PIP). He started the intensive 5 days a week program the end of January.
We also found out we were finally pregnant with baby #2! We were excited!
February - Gavin was evaluated and approved for Occupational Therapy (OT) once a week to address his gross and fine motor developmental delays and his sensory integration delays.
Our excitement about baby #2 quickly came to a disappointing end when I started experiencing horrific cramping and pain and was diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy, go here and here for the details and recovery.
March - Gavin began OT with a wonderful therapist who has come to love G as one of her own children I believe. She has been so good to us! I have prayed that his therapists and interventionists would grow to love him and be inspired to provide the best care they have and she is definitely one of the many answers to those prayers. Gavin also was evaluated for and started Speech Therapy.
He still had no speech, maybe after being prompted he would say single words. I honestly can't remember.
Ryan left for his clinical residency in Austin, Texas for 9 weeks and G and I stayed home. It was a rough start but after the first week it was amazing how much the Lord blessed us. I honestly thrived during that time and was really happy!
April - Ryan was gone. I made 2 trips to Austin to see him and my family took care of G so I could go solo. They ended up being awesome times for us to be together alone and have fun making memories.
Gavin increased speech therapy to 2 days a week instead of one and we reduced intervention to 4 because our schedule was too crazy.
A tender mercy from the Lord occurred and G's nasal problems with speech went away almost overnight and his speech has grown like crazy since that day. We started realizing his receptive language skills were much better than we realized and his expressive has blossomed since then!
May - Ryan came home the end of the month. G was a completely different kid! Miracles happening! Ryan passed the clinical portion and found out he would be able to take his oral exams in November 2011 rather than waiting until October 2012 like we thought. Although exciting this meant he had to get right to work studying after being gone 9 weeks. Another grueling 5 months and then hopefully we'd be done with the diploma portion of McKenzie and all seriously hard schooling for a while (cross my fingers).
June - Job offer resurfaced with Eugene, Oregon PT clinic. Ryan started discussing details and offer. We had a great summer and lots of fun weekends hanging around home and our parents pools. We made one trip to Santa Cruz with G and Ryan's parents. Love that place. It may be our last trip in a while, sad.
July - ? Must have been pretty normal thank goodness!
August - we received the date for G's medical evaluation by Dr. Lisa Benaron - September 13th. I was busy reading books and research articles on autism to get a better understanding about the disorder and to figure out where G was at on the spectrum. I read Dr. Benaron's book before the exam to really wrap my head around it and intellectually and emotionally prepare myself for the diagnosis.
We accepted the job in Oregon and schedule a interview/meeting with the Corporate office in Texas.
September - I turned 30. I'm excited for my 30's! We found out were were pregnant (I took 3 different tests to confirm, even different brands) with baby #3 (#2, attempt #2). I started bleeding and we had blood work done to see if I had miscarried. The day we flew to Texas for our interview for the Oregon job I took a pregnancy test again and it was negative, confirming my fears I had miscarried. We had the interview in Texas and details about the Oregon job that we hadn't be given previously shook us up some and had us worried maybe we'd made the wrong decision (also let me note that Ryan had given notice to his employer which we hadn't planned on doing until after the contract was signed, but circumstance kind of forced it on him. So, when problems seemed to have arisen with the Oregon job I was terrified because we weren't guaranteed his current job here anymore). Then the next day after flying home we had G's autism evaluation and he was diagnosed with classic autism. The worst news being that we had a higher than expected chance of having another child with autism, up to 40% chance depending on how much genetics was playing a part.
We hit rock bottom emotionally, but quickly the Lord picked us up and I felt at peace and true happiness despite how bumpy the road. Within a 5 day period we had found out I was pregnant and then I miscarried, we had to reconsider the job offer in Oregon, G was diagnosed with Autism and we would have to accept that we may very well have another child (or children) with Autism or seek out adoption.
October - Ryan and I celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary. Every year gets better! Its helps when year 1 was pretty dang rough. We are grateful and laugh about it now!
General Conference was a huge boost for me. I love receiving counsel and words from our prophets and apostles.
For Halloween, Ryan was a volcano, Stacy a Cave Woman and G a dinosaur. G loves volcanoes so Ryan suggested the prehistoric theme.
November - Final push to exam time for Ryan's oral exams for MDT. He traveled to St. Louis, Missouri for the exams. No more studying but now it was full of worrying whether he passed or not with such a low pass rate. The exam wasn't without bumps in the road-- radiator problems on way to airport to fly to test and almost missed his flight. Ryan missed his connecting flight on the way home and had to spend the night in the airport and lucked out getting a another flight the next day (it was Veteran's Day weekend and a Monday) and then had to have the car towed home from the airport in Sacramento.
I remember after this weekend saying to Ryan something like, "I prayed that you'd travel safe and without delay, but I guess my prayers just weren't answered." As I was thinking back about how there were several bumps in the road that seemed so frustrating at the time during this weekend I realized now that although I wanted a seamless weekend for Ryan's travels, if the Lord had granted that then I probably wouldn't have been as grateful or apt to recognize what he did bless me with. Without challenges be them small or large it is so easy to forget the Lord and think that our success is because of our own strength or due to coincidence.
That weekend I was grateful that we had AAA plus and that it was only 93 miles to home instead of over 100 so that it didn't cost us a penny to tow the car home. It made me every so grateful that somehow Ryan's mom was able to find a $350 ticket to get Ryan home after missing his flight rather than the $1000-2000 tickets we were quoted on the phone and initially seeing online. It made me realize that the Lord did in fact know the limit to what we could handle and gave us just enough to humble us and help us turn once more to Him.
I was finally able to put aside my fears and we signed the contract and officially accepted the Oregon job. Since signing the contract all of the anxiety and fear that had taken over me has been gone. It feels so good to have that decision made and to press forward now. Another testament to the power of the Lord's holy priesthood.
Thanksgiving was great and we ran our first 5k. I intended on doing a mix of running and walking but ended up running the entire thing, pushing the double jogger stroller too! I've since started running about 3 miles on at least a weekly basis. It feels so good. I never imagined I'd say that! We agreed to make it a family tradition to do Turkey Trots each year on thanksgiving. We are considering training for a 10k! Eugene is full of races each month of the year! Its a runner's paradise.
December - After just short of a month of waiting on pins and needles, we finally got news that Ryan had passed his oral exams and completed the diploma program. Ryan S. Beck, DPT, Dip.MDT (oh ya!). What a huge blessing from the Lord! The pass rate we had been told was around 50% so this was a HUGE blessing!!!!
If I'd only known.... Honestly I think there is wisdom in NOT knowing. Would I have signed up for the kind of year I had. My first response, NO, HECK NO! But then slowly and surely, the Lord has blessed me with more understanding about who I am and my potential and how all of these challenges are indeed experiences that will be for my good.
This year truly has been a testament to the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the words of his scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. Line upon line, he has given me just enough to challenge me and humble me to turn closer to him. What I didn't detail above is how much my testimony has grown. I have felt it in my life--stronger faith and more willingness to obey. I have more of a desire to share my testimony and express gratitude. I realized that this desire to express it comes in my life when I am living the gospel more fully and when my testimony is growing, but that those desires don't come when I am not actively living the gospel and striving to grow and improve. I have struggled all my life to read my scriptures and this year because of a true gift from the Lord (a very sacred moment in my spiritual lifetime I have no doubt), I have consistently read the Book of Mormon daily for the majority of the year. I read the entire Book of Mormon and have been able to read and spiritually experience for myself the power of that witness and the truth and safety that lies in follow its counsel. I have now more than ever instituted sincere prayer into my life as a result of being humbled and knowing that in order to accept and embrace the world of Autism that I needed the Lord. That challenge turned me even closer to God. It still has to be a conscious decision everyday to keep doing it and to do it with a sincere heart and effort but I have felt the power it has had in my life and I know that true happiness and peace are possible and only come through doing the small and simple things the prophets and Lord have commanded us to do.
In January I posted that the pending news of G's developmental delays was a challenge I didn't know if I could handle. Had I known then all that would actually occur I probably would have totally lost it, but the Lord prepared me throughout the year to be able to faithfully endure and actually grow through the challenges.
My goal as a result of this year is to strive to always remember God and my dependence on him for happiness. The Book of Mormon is a true testament of the joy and happiness that can come through always remembering Christ. It is also a testament to the misery and destruction that will come from forgetting God and relying on our own strength. I choose to remember Christ and to honor the covenants I have made with Him!
And because of what I know now and have experienced this year, I am choosing to continue on to what could be another challenging year but also has the potential to be more beautiful than I can imagine! Faith and hope in the Lord's promised blessings are powerful!