In a small maternity delivery room in Cheltenham, long ago, an exhausted young woman lay in a bed soaked with blood, sweat, amniotic fluid and tears; she had in her arms the most precious and beautiful thing that she had ever seen.
He was low birthweight and tiny, but he had a perfectly formed little Pixie face, not a single wrinkle on his beautiful, soft skin, and the eyes of a wise old man – boring straight in to the heart of his mother, and right in to her soul.
The young woman – still recovering from the painful contractions, all of the pushing and the subsequent birth – gazed at the child that she had grown inside of her. She was facing motherhood alone due to a violent marriage that she had been forced to end; her husband had attempted to kill her, and then the child inside her. At least his attempts on both lives had failed.
She vowed to the newborn, who she was cradling so gently, that she would look after him no matter what. Both of them together, forever.
From the day of the boy’s birth, though, his mother knew that something was wrong. Nobody would listen to her, but her child – her beloved boy – would not accept skin contact and never learned to speak. His temper, as he grew, grew with him and his mother could only watch in horror as she came to realise that her child had a disability that she would never be able to help him with. He was eventually diagnosed as autistic.
The child was violent and strong and, after too many physical attacks his mother – who adored him and wanted the best for him – was forced to send her beloved boy in to foster care. She had recently recieved a diagnosis of epilepsy and was unable to cope with her son’s strength. It was the best way forward for both of them. She could still spend time with her son, and he would be with a family who were trained to deal with his outbursts.
His mother had struggled so hard to prevent that from happening; she was desperate to keep him with her, but it simply wasn’t possible.
The little boy is a young man now, and his mother is me. Throughout his entire life I have gone through heartbreak after heartbreak in order to do what is right for him. It was not easy for me to give him up, even though I realised that – for both our sakes – I had to.
In spite of anything that has been said to me of the contrary, I did what I did through love. What good am I to a profoundly autistic child when I can collapse and seize without notice? How on earth could I restrain a teenager bigger and stronger than myself so that he can’t cause harm?
Sometimes, there is no choice – regardless of how much it hurts, or how much you know it might hurt in the future. When you love somebody you have to risk emotional pain.
My little man is currently residing in a psychiatric unit. The fact that it is the right thing for him does not make it any less painful for the many people who love him.