The Reality of Pregnancy While Parenting an Autistic Toddler

This is a stock image I downloaded off shutter stock. Pregnancy while parenting an autistic toddler does not in fact look anything like this.

What I would like my day to look like while pregnant and looking after an autistic toddler

1. Prenatal Pilates in the morning. Rested and radiant, energized for the day!
2. Toddler wakes up at 7.00 after going to bed at 8.00
3. We both have a leisurely, healthy breakfast
4. Toddler is toilet trained and therefore takes himself to do a poo. I watch and help slightly.
5. Toddler has a three hour therapy session while I do some light housework and put my feet up
6. Nice relaxed lunch. Toddler feeds himself quickly then runs off and keeps himself entertained building something impressive with blocks
7. We go for a stroll to the park in the sun. He runs around while I sit and watch from the table. If he wanders too far from the playground (rarely) I just tell him to come back and he comes back. Occasionally comes to me for kisses and hugs. Kisses my belly sometimes and is very excited about his new baby sister. Then he sits in the pram and falls asleep at exactly 1.00 He sleeps until 3.00. I have a nap too. He has some milk just in time for his afternoon therapy session.
8. Fairies clean my house. I consider sending them out for groceries but feel so energized and glowing that I go for a walk there and back. Then I cook a delicious and nutritious meal that I’ve always wanted to try. The fairies clean up after this and stack my dishwasher. Man I love those fairies.
9. We all have dinner together. Everyone loves their meal. Michael bathes, dresses and dries himself while I watch and read a book. Then we all sit and have family bonding time while I put my feet up again.
10. My son falls asleep promptly at 8.00 again.

What my day actually looks like while pregnant and looking after an autistic toddler

1. Michael gets up at 4:30 after falling asleep at 10:00. I throw him to my husband and go back to sleep.
2. I wake up at 6:00. Did I really sleep? Take over from my husband. Consider whether it’s rude to ask my therapist to come at 7:00 in the morning. Remember she’s in Europe and probably hasn’t gone to bed yet.
3. Feed michael breakfast, change him. Realize he’s doing a poo in his clean nappy and that it’s all over his singlet so now I have to redress him completely. Cry.
4. Stick him in front of an iPad while he stims in the corner. Eat a quick breakfast, put on laundry, clean kitchen, collapse on couch.
5. Husband wakes up just in time to go to work. Jokes about how he’s going to have a rest now. I consider kicking him but my centre of gravity is off right now so I’d probably just fall over.
6. Take toddler to the park. Realize that pushing a heavy Pram with 18kg of child in it uphill is not very pregnancy friendly. Get there. Spend two hours frantically sprinting after toddler in a desperate effort to keep all his limbs generally attached to his body. Nearly lose him a couple of times while he makes desperate attempts to run into incoming traffic. He doesn’t go near the actual playground, instead preferring the drain and making forays into the dirty, smelly creek. My current form of waddling run can be quite fast sometimes. Why is it only 11:00??
7. Come home. Feed him lunch. Go through the third tantrum for the day because he doesn’t like those vegetables and wants different ones. Stick him in front of iPad again as I have leftovers from last night.
8. Change nappy again. Feel like I’ve just run a marathon. Go to another park. Feel hopeful that toddler may fall asleep on the way there. He laughs at me, and jumps out of the Pram.
9. Toddler falls asleep at 2:00 prompting a change to all afternoon plans. While he’s asleep I email and message six different people about therapy arrangements and realize he has an appointment with his paediatrician at the same time as his clinic next week. Fill out ten pages of paperwork for paediatrician. Contact the seven people on his therapy team to reorganize clinic. Realize my baby is kicking extra hard today in my tummy. I don’t blame her.
10. Therapist comes for afternoon session. We both make a concentrated effort to wake toddler. Manage it at 4:00. He’s cranky but I hand him over. He’s her problem now.
11. I run to get groceries. Make three different dinners. Wonder if there are extra people living in my house I don’t know about. Take down washing. Clean up. Help with therapy. Toddler comes out. Husband comes home.
12. Bathe him. Feed him. Deal with toddler as well. Me and my husband take turns running around with toddler while the other one eats and cleans kitchen. Say hi to each other occasionally. I feel slightly like a beached whale by evening and so walk up and down the house with a slow waddling movement that my husband says resembles a fat penguin. He sings the ‘waddle, waddle, waddle, waddle, penguin man’ song at me. I don’t punch him because I’m too tired.
13. Toddler finally falls asleep at 10:00. I collapse in bed, then realize I haven’t brushed my teeth yet today. Also realize I don’t care. Think about how tired I am. Force myself to brush my teeth. Start stressing about how I’m going to take toddler to the dentist and whether I should just ask the dentist to put him under general. Stress about what happens if his teeth ever get cavities. Also his eyes. I should take him for an eye check up. How are they going to check his eyes when he can’t talk, doesn’t understand pictures, and has no idea what they’re saying to him. Look at cute photos of him taken during the day. I then realize it’s 11:30. Finally fall asleep.

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