I have three black floaters in my left eye, the only tangible reminders of the four and a half months spent on bedrest during my pregnancy with Everybody’s Boy.
They pop in and out of my line of sight. On days that I am more aware I see them everywhere. I perseverate on my impending blindness. I look at the sky. The wall. How many are there now?
There are always three.
Are they bigger? Are they blacker? Are they more in the center of my line of vision than before?
I google “preeclampsia, black spots, five years postpartum” in various combinations. Incessantly.
Days, even weeks, go by where I don’t notice the spots.
Sometimes I convince myself that they are imagined.
Except I remember that first time I knew something wasn’t right. I was at labor and delivery being monitored for the millionth time after a blood pressure spike. I remember seeing all black and feeling as if I may pass out, and then my vision slowly returning as I lay horizontal in the hospital bed.
I remember telling the nurse that my vision had gone for a minute but that it had come back except for a few little spots in my left eye. I remember her telling me not to worry, that this was a normal part of pregnancy.
I remember fixating on those black spots for the next week, asking Gus if he could see them too. Comparing every vision I had with his, requiring detailed descriptions of how he viewed the world – mentally overlaying his imaging with my own.
I remember a flurry of panic a week later when I casually mentioned the spots to my perinatologist. The amniocentesis. The emergency appointment with the ophthalmologist for a consult on whether or not my vision could withstand natural childbirth. The induction. The month and a half of utter hysteria that followed as my blood pressure continued to rise postpartum as my vision deteriorated; taking my newborn child with me to the neurologist and the ophthalmologist and the MRI clinic. Fighting closing my eyes for sleep for fear that the flashes of light in my line of vision might *this time* be a retinal detachment.
And then, as suddenly as it began, it got better. So much better that three years later I was shocked when in a routine eye exam the ophthalmologist asked me if I had any vision loss in my left eye. When I recounted the history he remarked that he could see the damaged area.
It was this almost serendipitous affirmation that I was not crazy. That something scary did happen to me and that someone, a professional even, noticed it without even the slightest bit of my prompting.
That affirmation thing is big with me. I have a way of doubting fact. A really troubling way of over-analyzing ad nauseam even the most concrete information.
I constantly struggle to understand Peter’s Autism. In this case my blind spot is doubt. Because I remember the day I heard the diagnosis. I remember the bleak comradarie I felt when I learned there was a community of people like us. I remember the certainty I felt that this was where we belonged.
I stare at the wall. I stare at the “blind spots”. The missing pieces in my vision and my perception of what Autism means for our child. Once again I ask Gus, my family, my friends, the professionals if they see the same thing I do. I try to overlay the images in my mind and reconcile something tangible.
Yet what I desire, what I crave, is that horrifically serendipitous affirmation by someone completely foreign to our world.
I want them to look at him and say “Peter has Autism”. Not because I asked. Not because I told them what everyone else has said.
But because they see it. Unequivocally. Clearly.
And not because I wish Autism for my child. Not in the least. But because I need someone, something, to step in and remove the fear and the doubt and the onus that I feel.
Are there still three spots? Are they blacker? Are they more in the center of my line of vision than before?
Was the diagnosis just a politically correct excuse for my ineptitude as a mother?
If I can exhale. If I can just stop looking for the black spots. If I can just accept the ambiguity as fact.
If I could just forgive myself…
…then maybe the world would seem clearer.