Birthday Boy!

Jacob’s birthday is a week after mine. The summer I was expecting him, my parents gave me a birthday card and in it my mom had written, “today or someday very soon you will be a mom and you’ll know the joy you’ve brought to us.” Eight days later I was handed a 7 lb. 15 oz. beautiful baby boy and was truly overcome with joy. We were young and naive but definitely oozing with love. Giddy over our son.

As most parents do, probably all first-time parents, I began to watch for milestones. Communication, Sensory, Motor, Feeding. Jacob met some but was basically delayed overall. Before his first birthday I was concerned and questioning his pediatrician. By his second birthday we knew. Our fears were confirmed – there would be major delays.

But, delays didn’t matter, we celebrated birthdays BIG. I took a cake decorating course because I wanted my children to have FUN cakes. Special moments and wonderful memories. Both of our families lived nearby and they were all invited to shower Jacob with love. And they did! With love and loads of presents. They enjoyed the parties and Jacob enjoyed them more.

As he got older though, I used his birthday as a marker for what had or had not been accomplished. And frankly, it was depressing. Some years I could see no improvement in any area. He was stuck mentally with no verbal language. He could understand us and follow through on some things. I would try my hardest not to let it get me down. He deserved to be celebrated!! And yet, there was looming sadness. Guilt smothering me. I had a wonderful son we all loved deeply and nothing made me happier than to do something for him. Still, I wanted so badly to prove the doctors wrong. Surely they made a mistake.

I don’t remember what year but I finally went to my family doctor as I could not shake the low spirit taking over. While I spoke and tears ran down my face, he suggested I had seasonal depression. It had nothing to do with the ‘seasons’, as in winter, spring, summer, fall – but the season in my life reoccurring each year. By April I’d start feeling the gloom, I dreaded Jacob’s July birthday. Couldn’t accept him being another year older with no progress to note. I was prescribed an anti-depressant that I didn’t want to take but was desperate to get out from under the dark cloud. And, as Dr. W predicted, it did help me get through those few months. Once his birthday had passed I could move on, wean off the med and everything return to ‘normal’. And try as I might, by spring of the next year no matter what I did to prepare—positive self talk, prayer, reading, confiding in a friend, therapy, gratitude journal, etc. I’d need to get back on something. I was ashamed. How could I let a birthday, Jacob’s birthday, depress me terribly? I could not help it and couldn’t help it for a number of years. A roller coaster of emotions knowing what I needed to do but every year hoping I could avoid medicine to cope.

I share this now for you, my small blogging audience, to get a peak into what an adorable child blessed our lives in the summer of 1979. Looking back at these pictures reminds me of all the fun. Goodness God gave us the most awesome gift. And we were surrounded by such supportive families. But also, I want to speak to those who struggle with depression, whether seasonal or not. Don’t let it stop you from enjoying the blessings. God is able to hold you, to carry you when you can’t walk. Look around and accept His open arms. You are not alone. And you are not the only one who may have dreaded another special event. God understands.

I wasn’t able to locate pictures from every year of Jacob’s first two decades but hope you’ve enjoyed these, even those poor quality ones! Stay tuned for next week’s post – the birthday boy celebrates a BIG ONE!


15 thoughts on “Birthday Boy!

  1. Dear Terri, Thank you so much for your posts and especially for this one. My brother, Jimmy, will celebrate his birthday later this month. He too has autism. Looking at the pictures brought back so many memories from when Jimmy was younger, really warmed my heart! Thank you for giving a glimpse into your journey and thoughts, you don’t know how inspiring you are. Happy Birthday, Jacob! I attend church with Mrs. Hilda and Mr. Bobby, precious friends! God bless each of you greatly! Love in Christ, Laura

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such an insight to your journey with our precious Jacob. Some day when we meet the Lord, Jacob will tell us his story – can’t wait to hear it! We love you, Jacob.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Terri- This really hit home for me. I am raising a 5 year-old autistic boy (and his older NT sister). I recently wrote about my experiences with birthdays and holidays with my son and letting go of the expectations that come with these holidays. You are a truly gifted writer. Thank you for letting us in to your family.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. Being transparent is a learning process for me but I am learning that blogging about our experiences helps me see Jacob with different eyes. And, I am touched that our stories may help others. Hang in there!


  4. Thanks for this great post! I always enjoy a heartfelt, courageous story to give me hope. I too have an 8 year old non-verbal son with autism who is my everything. I hope to celebrate his 40th just as you will be. Great job parenting! Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Terri, just want to say thank you for sharing and for embracing your son in this journey. Today is also my birthday, turning 40 as well! So as a 7/9/79 kid… thanks to you and your whole family! Your stories are important, and I’m glad to have a small glimpse into them. And a big happy birthday to Jacob!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for sharing! I have a 16 year old with nonverbal autism, I know it is difficult, but also rewarding. I love him with everything I am. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m just popping in to say Happy Birthday to your son! – and it was very nice and informative to hear about your & Jacob’s journey, – It’s also very great to hear from parents, or someone else’s experience/story, (as someone with autism myself)…


  8. I read this & I feel a connection to you and your son. I was born in 1974 and am raising a son quite similar to yours it sounds like and he turns 19 years old July 22. Birthdays are a big deal to me & I celebrate them big any chance I get, especially for my son Carson. And I have always made his (and his brothers) cakes just like my mother always made mine. Shrek, the Death Star and the list goes on. Thank you for sharing a part of your journey with Jacob.


  9. Blessings and yay for birthday boys!!! I have a brother born on the exact same day! 40 is a big deal no matter the circumstances. Keep up the good spirit and thank you so much for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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