For the longest time, I blamed Baby Einstein for my daughter's autism. When she was an infant, she would happily watch their shows for hours. Sometimes she did.
Sometimes she watched Baby Einstein so much that I began to suspect that the problem lay with me: I must be a terrible parent to expose her to so much television. Consequently, I began to suspect that my terrible parenting skills caused her autism.
After a while of this self flagellation, I looked back on the traumatic birth, my wife's blunt and battered uterus that bled for 12 hours straight before several surgical procedures could stop the flow. I remembered the time in the post-op room, behind drawn curtains, standing on a cold tile floor where my wife's bed should have been. I remember pacing, pacing, pacing, and the only sound was the clock on the wall high above me tick tick ticking the minutes like hours.
I remember that my daughter was in my arms the entire time, and her entry in life was like being dropped into a bucket of angst and fear and barely held-back panic, as I wondered what was happening to my wife. I also remember that I sometimes stared down at this beautiful bundle of new life, and cursed her, secretly blamed her for all this, secretly bargained with God or the devil -- I didn't care which came to my rescue first -- to roll back the thread of time, put her back on the cosmic shelf, and give me my wife back again.
After thinking about this enough, I came to blame my daughter's autism on the traumatic hours after her birth.
Until I remembered that the induction of my wife's labour was a nightmare. The induction lasted hours. They pumped her so full of oxytocin that it was leaking out of her pores. Surely it was this ghastly medical intervention that caused Natalie's autism.
My friend told me that, on the night my daughter was conceived, there was a terrible solar storm, and the earth was battered with radiation. And that became the culprit.
Every night I lay my hands on here and visualize the darkness inside her skull spilling out her ears, into the aether, and disappearing. Sometimes I visualize taking a deep breath and inhaling her autism like a cloud of black flies, like the poor dumb giant on death row in Stephen King's The Green Mile.
I can't shake the need to be in control. I can't shake the need to know what caused her autism because, if I know what caused it, I'm one step closer to fixing it. I'm one step closer to controlling it.
I can't let go of making it about me.