In this episode, I am excited to be joined by my friend Brittany Joseph who is a 26-year-old mother of five children that are between the ages of nine and two. She is married to her high school sweetheart who is currently employed in the Air Force.
Today, she walks us through her experience with beginning motherhood at such a young age and what it was like going through her journey of finding out that her daughter was diagnosed with epilepsy and autism.
Becoming a Teenage Mother
Brittany talks about how it felt to be expecting a child when she was seventeen years old and still in high school. It was terrifying for her to become a mom when she was still so young. She lived in a small town and her teen pregnancy was a complete shock for a lot of people. She received a lot of judgment at first because both she and her boyfriend’s families were religious.
Many people view teen pregnancy as the end of any possible future in life. It is the typical stereotype to believe that it isn’t possible to achieve success if you get pregnant in high school. Brittany proved anyone who ever thought that wrong because she has become such an inspirational wife and mother. She went back to school after she had her baby because she was motivated to show her daughter and her future children that education is so important, and it is possible to overcome anything.
Experiencing an Epilepsy Diagnosis
Because her husband was in the military, Brittany and her family had to move to Germany. They lived in a village that was secluded from everything and it felt terrifying because not only did they not understand the culture or the language, but they were still trying to figure out life at that time.
They were still living in Germany, and she was nine months pregnant with her third child when Brittany’s 13-month-old daughter Rainey became very sick and experienced her first seizure. It was scary for Brittany to see this happening to her daughter because she wasn’t familiar with what was going on. There were so many challenges dealing with the hospitals in Germany and it was difficult to find anyone that could explain Rainey’s diagnosis to them or know how to help them treat it.
Experiencing an Autism Diagnosis
They also began to notice early on that Rainey was delayed in many things developmentally. They took her to several doctors and ran many tests on her and eventually received the diagnosis that she had autism. The news made Brittany feel like her world was crashing down around her. She had never known anyone specifically with autism before and she had always thought that children with special needs were completely nonverbal and incapable of doing very much. It took her several years to finally accept her daughter’s diagnosis because she had to first grieve the loss of everything she originally thought her daughter’s future would look like.
Why Parents Need To Have an Outlet
It is so important to make sure that you create an outlet for yourself for your own mental health and well-being. The pressures and stress of the day can become overwhelming and it is crucial that you have something that can give you clarity and a little time to yourself.
You shouldn’t deal with your child’s diagnosis and the pressure of handling a child with special needs on your own. It is extremely important to be able to have a group of people or even one person that you can talk to about what you are going through because it is so helpful and necessary.
What Being a Special Needs Parent Can Teach You
It isn’t until you have a child with special needs, and you have to deal with so much in one day, that you can understand how much they have to teach you. All of Brittany’s children and especially, Rainey, taught her what unconditional love truly is, along with so many other things.
For anyone in the beginning stages of an autism or epilepsy diagnosis and mothers in general, it will be okay, and it will get better! Brittany never believed that things would get better, but it was after she accepted her daughter’s autism and epilepsy that she saw the positives in the diagnosis. It may not happen overnight or even in a year or two, but eventually, you will be able to see that things can and will improve!
- You can come back from anything that you are going through. Even if it doesn’t seem like it, there are ways to come back from decisions that you have made or anything that you go through. Brittany wanted to show her kids this by going back to school and finishing her education.
- In order to accept her daughter’s autism diagnosis, Brittany had to grieve the death of what she thought her child would be. Rainey is still the same daughter, but her dreams for her had to shift. It can take a lot of time, but you have to change what your original ideas for your child’s future would be.
- You can’t do it alone. Everybody needs somebody. Whether it is a friend, a bishop, a parent, or a cousin, there is always somebody out there to talk to! Find an output. Not everyone has a group of people and that’s okay. Reach out to someone, because there will always be that person there to listen to you and hear you out.
- Make sure to have an outlet. It is important to have an outlet to relieve the stress and pressure that you experience. Anything that will help you get clarity and take time to think in peace. This will help you to restore your energy and give yourself a much-needed rest.
- Things will get better eventually. It may not seem like it now, but if you give it time, you will be able to look back and see that things have improved. It may take years, but it is possible that eventually, you will be able to see the growth and the progress that has been made.