I am beyond thrilled to share some of Jessica's story with you today. She is one of my heroes. I am so grateful for her friendship and truly feel that our friendship has grown deeper as we have helped each other through some dark times.
Jessica was one of the people who offered to help me clean my house when I was down and out during my "chemo days." I will always be grateful to her for helping me with a task that had once seemed so simple, but at the time, was impossible for me to do on my own.
We CAN do hard things and we can do those hard things when we allow our family and friends to lift us, to help us, and to love us through the storms of life.
I Can Do Hard Things- Jessica Andrews Wuebkes
My name is Jessica Andrews Wuebkes. I am a wife, a widow, and mother of two with one on the way. Hard Things? Trying Times? Oh girl, this is my thing! Like Buffy fights off the Vampires, I have been chosen to fight through some very dark times.
As I organized my thoughts of what to share I had narrowed it down to two topics. The first and maybe the most interesting; being a young widow. The second; PTSD. As I knelt in prayer for guidance and inspiration another topic came to mind in big capital letters. AUTISM.
My son Jonah was born a healthy baby in November 2007. After many bouts of RSV and other lung crippling diseases my little J was on life support for many weeks fighting for his life. The machines were not working. I sat many hours at the bedside of my 13 week old baby watching his body fight as hard as it could. His body grew tired and started to shut down. After much fasting and prayers offered we saw a miracle. Jonah's health turned around in a matter of days. All of a sudden his body started to respond to medications and therapies given. Blood cultures were coming back in the more normal range of numbers. After 3 months of hospital living my son was coming home.
Not that life was dandy after this episode, we had a lot of medical stuff to learn. Jonah's lungs are permanently damaged. With this comes lots of doctors visits, ongoing hospitalizations, oxygen equipment, and chest x-rays. The machines that saved his life have also caused great damage to his lungs. Jonah will live with chronic lung disease his whole life. I learned this new lifestyle quickly and I felt confident in my new title as a "Medical Mommy".
My background is early childhood education. As days turned into months I started to notice that Jonah was a little offbeat. He wasn't following the milestones that most children his age were hitting. I had a hunch that he had something wrong with him developmentally. I made an appointment with his pediatrician and together we went through the steps to have him seen by Neurological specialists. In June 2010 I was driving down State Street and had to pull over when I received the phone call stating that indeed my son did have autism. I couldn't hold back the tears. I knew that this was going to be a new challenge. I just wasn't sure I cold do it! But honestly, what choice did I have? Heavenly Father had different plans for my warrior boy and he had trusted this special spirit to me. I wiped away the tears but they were falling faster then I could control.
I bowed my head and begged that Heavenly Father would show mercy and make this all go away.
Well, that didn't happen. My son, now 8 still has autism. Heavenly Father did not take it all away. However, he did and continues to show mercy and love to this situation and journey that has helped me grow into my role of being a mommy of a child with Autism and medical disabilities.
Autism is hard. I had a child who couldn't communicate with me or others. We worked through many different strategies to develop these skills. Many hours of speech therapy, occupational therapy, feeding therapy, physical therapy and good old playing. He started having melt downs that you can't even imagine. His frustration was so out of control that a padded helmet was purchased to protect his head as he self regulated by hitting his head against our glass windows. I couldn't take him shopping with me because the overhead lights and music became to much for him and he would lose complete control, once again having a terrible meltdown which resulted in complete humiliation for me. Together we would sit in an isle of a store where I would have him in my lap. I would hold him as tight as I could and just rock with him in my arms. I would do anything to calm him down; anything to protect him from himself as self harm had become a new part of our lives.
Through the years, life with Autism has gotten better. I can and will continue to be his voice. I now know what will set him off. I have learned to be patient and be in the moment. Jonah's behavior has become more of that of a typical peer and he is reading at a kindergarten level. He spends most of his school time in special ed and is making huge strides. We have been able to cut most therapies from his schedule. As a family we live a more calm lifestyle then years past. Much has changed in our life due to the challenges set before us. I am grateful for the heartache, the struggle, and the humility for I have found inner strength, a voice, and a love that is so much deeper then I would have ever known or experienced without the hard things. I have learned to kneel a little faster and pray a little longer. I have much to be grateful for.
Click HERE to watch a video about Jonah.
(The song that is in the video was written for him.)
Jess, thank you so much for taking the time to write this beautiful post. I am so thankful for your friendship and I look forward to many more years together as friends. And I also want to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be one of Jonah's preschool teachers. That amazing little man has a piece of my heart and I know that he is going to do great things in this world.
I am loving my second chance at life.
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