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Maritsa Rodriguez WOTM March 2021

This month we have the honor of spotlighting Maritsa Rodriguez. I personally know her from years ago and have always recognized how strong of a woman she is, however my admiration for her grew tremendously when she became a mother. Below you can read what she is sharing with us about her journey.

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Patience. As parents we need to have patience when it comes to our kids.  We are their teachers, doctors, counselors, chefs, the list goes on and on. I had to be all this plus more. No one gives you a handbook on how to be a parent, let alone how to be a parent to a special needs child. 

At the age of 21, while expecting my second child, I learned he would be born with a cleft lip. I know what you might think, there’s children out there who have more severe problems. But for me, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, I had so many questions and concerns. As I told most of my family, I would get positive feedback but yet I had some that would tell me “Oh, that can be fixed. What are you so worried about?” I was worried about how I was going to physically take care of him while also taking care of a one-year-old. When my son was born, I didn’t expect what the nurses were going to tell me. He had the cleft lip, but also a cleft palate with other complications as well. I didn’t get to hold him. I didn’t get to touch him. I saw him far away and saw as he was taken away to go to NICU. The next day I was released from the hospital with no baby to take home. He stayed in the hospital for 9 weeks. During his time in the hospital, at about 6 weeks, he had three surgeries. As time went by, he would have more surgeries, two of those was to repair his cleft lip and palate. I still remember the sleepless nights. Waking up every three hours in the middle of the night to feed him, cleaning the feeding machine, making sure his g-tube wasn’t going to come out, the weekly doctor visits, sometimes up to 2-3 visits in the same week. 

My husband and I were living apart due to moving back with my parents to save up. While he did live with us, there was a situation that happened between him and my dad, that led to us getting kicked out. I left to stay with my friend, carrying my one-year-old in my arms and recently had just given birth. He went to stay with his parents. Weeks later, I was able to take my son home. I decided to go back to my parent’s house while my husband was still living with his. He would come over to see the boys and sometimes I would stay with him over the weekend. We still managed to be a family regardless of the circumstances we were in. Seemed like life was throwing everything it could at us. After a couple of months of living back and forth, we decided to get a place of our own. 

I somehow still managed to have time for myself. Not sure how I did it but I did. My mom helped me out a lot before she had to go back to work and was surprised, I didn’t fall into depression. Yes, of course sometimes I would cry myself to sleep or cry while I was in the shower, but I didn’t let anyone see my bad side. I managed to stay strong and be there every step of the way. Even with all the stares, the negative and rude comments about my son, I still managed to stay positive. 

Even till this day I don’t let anyone get to me. I still get told that he should be talking like a normal eight-year-old, that he should already be potty trained, that he needs to be more independent. But yet no one knows what I went through and what I am still going through. I am the one going through this journey, no one else. 

I feel things happen for a reason. There is a reason why I was chosen to have him like this. My marriage was going through a rough patch and I felt that everyone saw me as I was never going to do anything in my life. I had studied to be a Medical Assistant prior to finding out about my first pregnancy, but yet I felt like this helped me a lot when I had Xander. 

Don’t ever give up and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I’ve been told “it’s my fault he was born like this” and so many other comments.  It’s no one’s fault. Especially having a special needs child.

Don’t let others get to you. Let them say what they have to say. Keep your head up high and you do you! Always make time for yourself, even if it’s to go buy a blouse or even just window shop, but make time for yourself. You are more than what people think or say.

Xander is the most joyful, loving, sweetest trouble maker, finds a way for everything little boy I’ve ever met! He’s interested in everything and anything. He likes to be read to even though he can’t read due to him having trouble pronouncing words or speaking in full sentences. He loves to play outside, loves to take baths, and loves chicken nuggets.  He gets sad when no one wants to play with him, or because things seem hard for him, gets frustrated when we can’t understand what he’s trying to say. Some days are harder than others but we are all still learning.

If someone were to ask me if I would change something about my life, I would say no. Yes, things are rough, life wasn’t what I was expecting it to be, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Final Thoughts

November is 22Q Awareness Month also known as DiGeorge Syndrome. One of the main reasons why it was so important for us to share Maritsa’s journey was to bring awareness as well as to let other mothers know they are not alone.

Opening up and talking about difficult journeys like hers brings up so many emotions and requires so much courage. We are extremely thankful Maritsa shared her experience with us. 

For our freebie this month, Maritsa wanted to share with us 3 book recommendations that have really helped her get through a lot lately. 

You can find the book Girl, Wash Your Face HERE

The book Girl, Stop Apologizing can be found HERE

The book A Year of Positive Thinking will be found HERE

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