In this edition of A Mommy Story, we meet Liz and her daughter Hannah. As Liz dealt with her daughter’s diagnosis, she learned to grow to love both herself and her daughter.
As any first time parent, things were exciting and new for us. Our baby was growing and doing things like any child would. We took her to checkups, got shots and so on. Then, one day, I heard something that no mom expects…
“There’s something off with Hannah. She should be talking and her milestones are a little behind”.
No one ever wants to be told that something is wrong with their kid, especially if they are a first time parent. I really had no idea she was “off”. So, speech therapy, here we come. Then, we heard something else.
“There’s something off with Hannah. She seems to be on the spectrum.”
So, Autism Testing Center, here we come. At 18 months, their testing wasn’t long. I was in denial of the whole thing. She’s 18 months! There’s nothing wrong. She’s just behind. Unfortunately, because of those test results, I began reading bogus things that “make her on the spectrum”; things I had yet to teach Hannah. Things like potty training which I hadn’t even started. Yet, that was one reason why she was on the spectrum. Huh? I was confused. She danced with me. She mimicked “Dance-a-lot Robot” and his bird dance. She clapped like a bird in session. Yet, she’s autistic. So naturally, I thought this was bogus.
The lady who tested my child had expertise in this. How could I be mad or in denial? So, I settled and I listened to her, as she talked down to me. I listened to the constant reminder that my child “is autistic”. My favorite line was “If you don’t do anything to help your kid, you are a bad mom”.
Wait, what?! I never said that I wasn’t doing anything. I was confused. I walked back to my car and sobbed. I just sat in a room with a “professional”, who had no bed side manners. What they said ripped me apart. That was the moment when I started to pick myself apart as a mother and Hannah as my child. I went from mom who struggled a little bit to one who was scared of the unknown. I began to look at my child as “wrong”. What did I do wrong? Why is she different? Why can’t she be normal?
When my depression hit, the darkness came. I started to hate motherhood. I didn’t look forward to things. I realize now that it was depression. But, back then, I just thought it was the constant struggle of ABA therapists, speech, motherhood and doctors telling me “There’s something off with Hannah”.
During my second pregnancy, I was terrified that the baby was going to be autistic as well. We relocated after Kaleigh was born. We endured more rounds of doctor appointments, referrals, new therapists, etc. The darkness I felt never went away; it was just hidden under my busy routine.
I never saw light again until Nov 2015. I was in mom / support groups on Facebook. I found & joined a clothing company after falling in love with how I looked. I found friendship, a family and someone who was dealing with the same stuff as me. I finally had a support system. I could breathe. I felt beautiful. I started taking care of myself.
Yet, it still felt like it was just covering up the darkness. Then, I was given a gift from my teammates. They let me know that I was a strong mom. I sat there and really took in what it meant. I sobbed for while. I realized that this family is a puzzle. I needed to work on it just as much as every person in this family.
I decided to hold a fundraiser for Autism. I cried all week! By the end of it something happened. I experienced healing and growth. I finally accepted autism. I accepted myself. I accepted my family. That day, I fell in love with my baby girl all over again. She is amazing. She is a genius! Her laughter makes us smile ear to ear.
And yet, despite this, the darkness was still there and would crack me when her big fits would come. My support system kept telling me to get checked out; I was ashamed, which in turn, made the darkness spike.
I finally got on medication for depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, the event that drove me to it was my dad passing from a heart attack. It felt like my father took me to to the doctor, so that I could start living my life happily. I believe that his message to me was that I was an amazing mother and can do anything. So what if Hannah has autism? It doesn’t mean that she can’t do anything and everything. Suddenly, I became a positive person again!
I spent most of my time as a mother resenting myself, my husband, my daughter and autism. Yes, It’s hard; some days are harder than others. But, my business/sisterhood and my dad made me grow and heal in ways that I can not explain. They lead me to focus on the inner light bulb that has been my motivation. That light bulb is Hannah. She knows her alphabet, numbers, how to write, spell and is a puzzle wizard! She sings and dances. Anything you teach her, she picks up in 2 weeks or less. She’s amazing.
This experience has also given me strength and support. My shopping group has turned into my support group and cheerleaders. So when I have downs or ups, they pick me up or celebrate with me. They love Hannah and her milestones just as much as I do. Because of this, I am now a voice for Special Needs Moms of Autism. I now look at life from a different perspective. I can see that difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations.
So, I think the specialist had it wrong. I think she must have meant, ‘There’s something AWESOME about Hannah!
Liz lives in Arizona with her daughters and husband. She continues live her life’s dream through her clothing boutique. You can keep in touch with Liz and check out her boutique at www.shopwithlizard.com.
46 thoughts on “A Mommy Story: There’s Something About Hannah”
Thank you for sharing this my son was just recently diagnosed with autism and adhd I spend a lot of time writing on my blog ( http://thisisnotastoryblog.wordpress.com/ ) about my own innermost thoughts that come from the everyday struggles of being not only a single mother but an autistic mother and so much more . It was really refreshing to read that there is someone else who went through what I’ve gone through and I totally feel the same way about my son . Hannah is awesome !
Such a beautiful article. As a parent, we always worry if we could of done something different, but sometimes things are just the way they are.
Thank you so much for reading! ❤️
Hello Liz. I just read your guest post here on Jenn’s blog and I am glad that I did. Thank you for sharing this content here with us. I am happy to know that you are being strong about the situation and I am proud of you.
I don’t know whether you have a relationship with God, but I have found that in any and every situation, God can help. God is an ever present help in time of need and he knows our every need. At times when I was going through dark moments and I had no support system, God managed to stand for me as a majority and made me feel like everyone was on my side. That is God for you.
God says in Isaiah 41:10
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand”.
The bible says in Philippians 4:6
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”.
If you already have a relationship with God, I would say, keep taking your requests to him in prayer and trust that he would do what is best for you. If you do not have a relationship with God, I would suggest that you build one and teach your daughter to build one too. God is great, he can help.
Here are my detailed suggestions on how to build a relationship with God:
1. Confession of faith: you need to find a quiet space. Imagine that Jesus is in front of you. Ask him for forgiveness of your past sins and the sins of your ancestors. Ask him to give you the strength to forgive those who have offended you. Honestly, I suggest that you forgive the people who have offended you, because whatever they did to you is now in the past, and upon a confession of Jesus as your Lord, you become a new creation. In addition, God commands that we need to forgive others, before he can forgive us. You can also get a deliverance before your confession of faith. Deliverance will rid you off any ungodly spirits that have taken residence in your body and mind. A pastor with a deliverance anointing should be able to help with this. There are also videos on YouTube, where pastors with a deliverance anointing pray directly for people through the videos. You just need to search “deliverance prayer” in the search bar to reach these videos. Now, you need to tell Jesus that you want him to come and be your lord and personal savior, and surrender to him. You need to know that Jesus died for you. He died on the cross so that you may have a chance at salvation. The minute you give your life to Jesus, you need to know that you can no longer live as you wish, you shall live according to the stipulations in the bible. Believe in your heart that Jesus was risen up from the dead by God, and confess with your mouth that he is the messiah and your personal savior.
2. Prayers: ask Jesus to bless you with eternal life. Tell him to make a place for you in his heavenly abode. You need to understand that praying for heaven is the best prayer that you can ever pray. Life on earth is so short, you need to be worried about eternal life, which is so much longer. God knows that you need clothes, food, shelter etc. He is your creator and he knows your every need. The bible tells us to pray for eternal life and God would provide our other needs (i.e. clothes, shelter etc.) according to his riches. If there is something bothering you, tell God in prayer, commit it to him and ask him to do it for you. However, bear in mind that this life is temporary and so are the things in this life. When you are praying, the devil will try to disrupt your prayers by bringing sudden disturbances and evil thoughts. An example of an evil thought that the devil tries to use to stop people from praying is by bringing the thought that Jesus is not present and that they are simply wasting their time. Jesus is there with you when you pray. So pray like you mean it. Pray the same way you will if Jesus was right in front of you because he is. You need to understand how prayers work as well. You see, when you pray, God answers prayers. God usually has three answers to prayers Yes, Yes but Wait, and No. God has a reason for every answer that he gives. He loves you and he will make sure that everything works out well for you in the end. When you get a No from God, sometimes it is not because that thing is not good for you at that point in time, but it may be because God is trying to draw your attention to something that you are doing wrong in your life. When you get a No from God, you need to evaluate yourself, what is the motive of your prayer? is it pure? Is it Godly? Is there an area of sin in your life that you need to work on? When you reflect on these things and you find something in yourself lacking, try to fix it. When God says Yes to prayers and sends you his blessings, trust me, there are spiritual forces of the devil in high places that work against people so that their blessings from God would not reach them. You need to pray against these spiritual forces. Rebuke them by the power and the name of Jesus. This way, your blessings would be able to reach you. Lastly, some people pray lazy prayers. For example, someone might pray for a job, without actually applying to any. God does not reward laziness. When you are praying for something, you need to be putting some work in as well. God rewards hard-work and we ought to strive to be hardworking. God’s role is to direct, bless, and make your path clear. However, bear in mind that sometimes God answers even lazy prayers and gives us undeserved blessings, that shows you the power of his love. He would always be with you. You need to make sure that you are close to God in prayer. Do not cease to tell him about what you are struggling with. If you are struggling with sins of the flesh that you believe are hindering your spiritual growth, you need to make sure that you tell God. Make sure that you pray for an increment in faith. Faith is important, you need to have faith in God. When we pray, we need to have faith, God does not like it when we doubt his ability to provide us with what we want, he is mighty and nothing is impossible with him. When you are low in faith, pray to God for an increment in faith. Remember to pray for your family, your city, your country and the world in fact, no prayers are too big for God. Pray that unsaved people would be saved. Pray for your non-Christian family members, pray that they see the light and become saved. When you pray, make sure that you take care of sins. The bible says that we need to forgive others if we want our sins to be forgiven. Make sure you forgive others, ask for forgiveness of your sins first before praying. Sins can block your prayers from getting to God. Try to avoid sin, but pray for forgiveness of sins everyday, because sometimes, we are not aware of the sins that we are committing. When you get answers to your prayers, remember to thank God.
3. The Bible: You need to make sure that you are reading the bible and that you are obeying it. I suggest you begin with the New Testament because the coming of Jesus changed many of the things that were practised before. However, bear in mind that the old testament is also important. You can find free bible apps on google play. You can also find free bibles online. The New Living Translation is an easy to read bible version. However, the most popular one is the King James Version.
4. Hearing from God: Trust me, God would speak to you. He would speak to you through dreams. Through people, through situations, through the bible and so much more. You need to practice and perfect the art of hearing God’s voice. Dreams contain a lot of symbolism. When you possess an avid knowledge of what the bible says, you would understand the biblical meaning of all the symbols in your dreams. However, for now, you can search online bible dream dictionaries for the meaning of things you see in your dream. You also need to know that although there are general meanings for some symbols, some interpretations are based on context. Take context into account. God does communicate via dreams. Sometimes, you might be asking God for direction on something. Pay attention to the words all around you during this time i.e, the things people say, words you see when reading the bible etc. Sometimes you might even just turn on your TV and the TV anchor would say something that directly relates to what you are going through. Pay attention to these things. You would know it is God’s voice when whatever is said is not in contradiction to the bible and God’s nature. If it is in contradiction then it might just be something random that popped up. You can also hear God’s voice by meditating on him. You can do this by finding a quiet space, you can play some background Christian music if you want. During this time, close your eyes and focus on God. Do some praise and worship in your heart first, then invite Jesus to come to you. Ask a question and pay attention to any bible verses that are brought to your mind, inner voices that you hear, any general feelings etc. If what is said is in line with the bible, then it is probably God speaking. It might take several weeks before you begin to hear God via meditation. If you keep trying one method and it does not work, try another method, like paying attention to the words around you. As you practise the art of listening and hearing, God might give you the gift of seeing visions or the gift of hearing an inner voice, and take you to deeper depths of hearing.
5. Fasting: fasting is an effective way to get God’s attention. Fasting is a way to spend time with him. You deprive yourself of food because what you seek for is more than food. There are different types of fasting, and you need to plan what works for you. There is the:
A. Avoidance fasting: This is a fasting form where you avoid something that you cannot do without i.e. Coffee.
B. Daniel’s fast: In this sort of fasting, you only eat fruit and vegetables and drink water. You do not eat anything cooked or anything other than fruits and vegetables.
C. Water fast: In this sort of fasting, you do not eat anything, you only drink water. No food, just water.
D. Total fast: In this sort of fasting, you do not eat or drink anything. You do not drink even water.
Make sure that you work out what works for you. You can pray to God for directions on the timing of the fasting to follow. However, as a general time-frame, on fasting days, many Christians fast from 6am to 6pm. Many Christians also use those moments when they feel hungry/ feel cravings as prompts to pray. You need to have increased prayers during fasting periods.
6. Temptations: When you believe in Jesus. Trust me, the devil sometimes would throw trials and tribulations into your life, the goal of this is to get you to denounce your faith. The goal is to frustrate you. You need to pray and fast when trials and tribulations strike. God would never leave you or forsake you. He would be with you and with God, you will overcome this if it ever happens.
7. Spreading the gospel: Now that you know the truth, you are chosen. It is now your duty to share the truth in the bible with others. Make sure that you save people from falling prey to Satan’s tactics. You need to join the fight to depopulate the devil’s camp, while populating God’s kingdom. With spreading the gospel, do not feel the need to finish reading the whole bible before you begin. You can teach people the little you know.
8. Read: There is a lot of material out there. There are ministers of God who have practised for about 40 years. These people have a lot of stories about their ministry. Some of them have the gift to heal others, others see visions, some of them hear God’s voice. Many of these people have written books about how they accomplished what they have accomplished, and how they got their gift. Buy these books and read them. If you do not have money, some of these ministers have shared their stories for free on YouTube, take advantage of that.
9: Reform yourself: begin to watch Christian movies and listen to Christian music. Make sure that your thoughts, actions, and words are in obedience to the word of God. Make sure that you are not doing anything sinful in your thoughts, actions or words. Refine your world, the space around you, the things you see and hear, make it all about God. You can also join a community of bible believing Christians. However, I need to tell you that there is sectarianism in the religion. Do not pay attention to sectarianism, pay attention to the bible. The bible is your authority. If a church seems to have too much sectarianism issue going on, if they are more focused on promoting their denomination than promoting God and the word in his bible, you need to stop going there. Get a water baptism, and pray so that God would baptise you in the holy spirit.
(I know I have written this list in the order of 1 to 9. It is crucial that you begin with Step 1. Prayers are something that you need to do constantly, so is bible study, hearing from God and reforming yourself. However, you can start small with fasting and spreading the gospel. You can start by preaching to your family members in the beginning phase of spreading the gospel, but you need to expand on these over time. I know this list seems long and all these seem deep, but trust me, you would blend into it so easily and it would become second nature to you. Pray to God to make all of these easy for you, and he will. The devil would try to trick you into believing that God’s standards are too high and that you would never overcome sin, when in actuality, you can. So therefore, pray to God and believe and he would help you overcome sin).
If you ever backslide and fall back into sin again while trying to follow God’s word. You need to ask him to forgive you and try to get back on track. He is ever forgiving.
If you have any questions, feel free to let me know. If you need to talk, I am here for you. God bless you. Have a blessed day 🙂
Your ability to grow and learn through your journey is amazing. Being a mom is challenging to say the least. We are often asked to do things in our lives that we weren’t prepared for and never expected to encounter. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story. It’s not always easy to share the pieces of us that have been most difficult. Your little girl is incredibly blessed to have you as her momma!
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It was sooo not easy to be this vulnerable about this! But I’m so glad I did. It’s opened up more relationships with other parents like me! Thank you so much for the sweet words and reading!