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Braces + Aspie = ?

Eleven years ago he popped out two cute little front teeth. Then he popped out another two. Oh, he was the cutest little thing on the planet! At least, this mother can say that and be completely telling the truth, according to a mother’s prerogative. Back in the naïve days of parenting a first-born, we didn’t think about those two little teeth turning into a whole mouth that needed some serious adjustments. We just adored our little guy with cutesy-wootsy, itsy-bitsy teefers.

I had seen my friends’ and relatives’ kids all lose their cute little baby teeth and enter the “awkward” stage. Not saying they weren’t just the cutest little awkward kids ever, but still, the stage where the teeth are bigger than their faces, awaiting the adult head was an obvious stage to look forward to. Ahem. J-man hit that stage early because his big ol’ teeth came in earlier than his peers. He lost his first teeth just after he turned five.

Fast forward a few years and those teeth and his upper jaw moved forward noticeably and we knew we were in for a dental bill that we couldn’t afford to ignore. We started saving early. Now we are paying those dues and will be doing so for a spell.

Today was the day. It was the day he had looked forward to, in a dread sort of way, for a long time. We had prepped him with pictures, videos, a prep appointment…you name it. We were being proactive, but not in a crazy, in-his-face sort of way. We were very balanced about it, knowing his proclivity towards anxiety.

He has matured and grown so much emotionally that I didn’t really see the semi-trailer full of Anxious before it hit. We were having a normal day yesterday when we mentioned that tomorrow would be braces day. Enter tears of frightful proportions that we have not seen in a good long while. Whoa! This did not bode well. He asked his 1000 questions, I answered as best I could. I prayed, asked my Mom and Dad to pray and asked them to ask their prayer chain to pray. Can’t have too much prayer, I say.

This morning we get up to the usual 1000 more questions and my 873 answers. I secretly place an Ativan in my purse…for him, not me, though I eyeballed the dosage to see if it would be strong enough for an anxious mother. Just kidding…I also placed a stress ball and some natural homeopathic stress meds. I was so ready. Bring. IT. ON!

The Orthodontist office is the cleanest I’ve ever been in. Of course, it’s the only Ortho office I’ve been in. They make you take off your shoes outside the door and give you “sterilized DAWGS” to wear. I like it.

We entered and waited. J-man was noticeably amped up but doing really well. He hadn’t cried for at least an hour! A lady that we had not yet met called us in. J-man thrives when life is predictable so throwing in a new (but not new to the office) gal into his life messed with him right from the get-go. She was nice but definitely had the air of “don’t mess with me”. Right away he got super nervous, shaking and defiant looking. I know he’s not really defiant but really over-the-top freaked out, but she interpreted his mood as defiance and tried to lay down the law. It spooked him even more.

Eventually, we got him convinced to lay down, but he was still super freaked. He was shaking all over. After a very noisy half of an hour, the Ortho Dr. came in and said we should probably shut it down for today but that we’d have to wait for another 2 months and then try again. I really didn’t want to do this again. Not the anxiety, not the panic…none of it. I got down in front of J-man and had the best pep talk in a long while. I talked to him of how I didn’t care what he looked like. I knew he was an amazing kid whether he had the same teeth or whether they were fixed. I told him that God shone in his life no matter what too. I reminded him that HE had wanted his teeth changed. I told him that he would be healthier for it too. I let him think that he had some control over whether he got braces or not. I’d like to think I wasn’t fibbing…Little by little he calmed. I remembered to pray. As he lay back down, I laid my hand on his ankle and started praying for him. I wondered why in the world it had taken me so long! Immediately, he started to calm. The rest of it was done in less time than all the talking took. He was almost relaxed as they finished up. It only took over three times as long, as it usually takes, but we got ‘er done!

I was so proud of how he worked through the incredible amounts of internal distress to get through a very undesirable circumstance. The sensory aspects of getting braces is  unbelievable when you are a person with an extra sensitive system. His head area is his most crazy-making part of him. I am bursting with mama pride!

I realize that God is the real reason that we got through this seemingly innocuous procedure. I raise my hands in praise to the King of Creation. He made our child who he is. I am excited to see him progress and become the man he was created to be. Even these “simple” circumstances, that are monumental tasks for our boy, are ones that shape who he is becoming. God is doing a good work in our son.

Braces + Aspie = One proud and thankful Mom. There were moments we could have left the office minus the braces, but we left with braces and boy intact.

YIPEE!!

Now to figure out the high-tech tooth-brush. Why can’t they make that simple?

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Labels are coming off

I had a conversation today that was a confirmation of what I have been thinking lately. We are going from a family of children with “challenges” or special needs to a family of quirky kids (and adults). A friend of mine told me that she doesn’t see what I am talking about when I mention the issues we face and I told her that I have been thinking the same things lately. Things are changing.

We have always known our kids are all very different from each other. Some of them have taken longer than the average child to catch onto some things. Others have done those same things sooner than the average. We first sought “labels” to get support for the issues we saw. I didn’t want to live by the labels but it definitely helped me understand some of the needs our kids had.

In the last year, I have seen J-man mature and grow as a person. I have always seen his potential and I believe he is now coming into that. He is a unique and wonderful personality. His emotions, though they run deep and sometimes wild, have become more mellow and mature. He is letting go of me as his safety net and is now standing on his own feet, so to speak. Like a young bird learning how to fly he has made the choice to leave the nest in a few circumstances and the change I see is spectacular!

Honey Bear (our youngest) struggled with hearing and sight for the first few years of life. While this may have slowed her down a few steps, she is rapidly gaining ground. Her sense of humor is by far the best quirk about her. Someone said today that she’s always smiling. It was so great to hear something that I hadn’t really noticed. I know she has a great sense of humor about her but the smiling I didn’t notice. Maybe I am used to it.

Although Ninja has always had quick reflexes and a strong body, he’s struggled with sensory issues. He continues to struggle with some of those sensory overloads but has sought athletic excellence as the summer months roll along. That kid can make baskets that would make a basketball player weep. He can hardly wait to do slam dunks, although he may lack the height in the end…but you never know!

Belle was obviously a bright mind from the start. I used to think she was bored as a newborn and I was probably right. I would wonder if in her head she was thinking “I can hardly wait to read or walk or do something!” She and I are both strong willed so we would clash, but recently we’ve created a bond that is amazing for me. I didn’t think it would ever happen. We’ll see what the teenaged years bring.

It is exciting to see kids overcome adversity as they grow and mature. Life always seems to throw curve balls but I am thankful I have the family that God has given me to go through life with.

The big UGLY cry

Simple white toilet brush
Simple white toilet brush (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What does it look like when a mom of an Aspie and three strong-willed kids goes off the deep end.

U.G.L.Y.

I have generally thought of myself as someone who has built up a pretty solid repertoire of patience. When the kids get crazy, the Momma just laughs at their antics.

Until she doesn’t.

Then it gets ugly and fast. Then there is wailing, gnashing of teeth, threats of running away, and a reminder to go to the therapist ASAP! There may even be nasty, red-eyed, blotchy-faced-crying-under-the-covers casserole, as a tasty side dish, to the meltdown. How do they do it? Those stalwart moms who never break a sweat. You know, those therapeutic moms who have way more on their proverbial plate than I? Oh yeah, they get dreadlocks, tattoos, sing Kum-bye-ya and go for vacation in Florida in winter. Just kinda kidding.

So I lost it.

It was not an unexpected sort of place to get lost in. I had really sound reasons for losing my nut.

Then we hugged, kissed, said sorry all around and I went to bed. I cried some more, because I needed it. I slept a little, too, because I had lost a lot of sleep the night before.

Sometimes we need to take care of ourselves, which I have pretty much not done for YEARS. Moms take care of a lot of stuff and crap. Sometimes the stuff is thrown at me and sometimes the crap backs up the toilet.

I usually love ball season, but I had all four registered in some sort of ball before I could holler a what-for at myself. I enjoy getting out of the house, finally, after a lifetime of winter broke about end of April. Any excuse to sit in the sun and watch my little peeps play ball is a fun way for me to spend my time. That is, until I realize, with the hubby coaching our son’s soccer team, I would be driver extraordinaire for the other three. That became complicated on away games as Momma just can’t be in 2 places at once. Tried it. Failed.

As ball season commenced so the appointments to Dr’s, therapists (OT, SLP x2, psychologists for both son and I, message for the mess I made of my back, chiropractor, psychiatrist for medical/mental related meds for son), birthday parties, field trips for 3 kids, church responsibilities….the list seemed to get a shot of steroids and intimidated me every time I looked at it. I honestly thought that if I didn’t have a nervous breakdown by the end of the month, I would have gained another victory.

My eyes may be swollen from the tears that passed through them, but the victory is that I waited until JULY to have a meltdown. As monumental and scary as it was. It told me to please take care of myself. Be diligent in self-care, with as many things that I am trying to juggle.

What started the mayhem may have begun the  night before…You know you are in trouble when the toilet brush looks like it was used instead of a plunger. Bad day ahead, mate! Do not even try cleaning the toilet brush. I tried. It was not pretty.

There must be some parents reading this that think that I must not be spiritual enough or must not be consistent enough with discipline or may think I am a bad mom because your kids have never told you that they hated you, thrown things in your direction, slammed the door for the bazillonth time, yelled at me “MOM YOU ARE GROUNDED AND I AM RUNNING AWAY!” before the age of six…well, you must have super compliant children. Hold them close and say a prayer for me. I have THREE strong-willed children that give me no end to scary stories (birth control to the masses, just read my future book) and an Aspie who loves to please me but is entering puberty so is pushing every boundary he previously did not think to push.

As I look back at the meltdown of epic proportions, I cut myself some slack. I have a fairly demanding job here. I am humbly and with internal and spiritual strength trying to grow my kids into adults that are loving, kind, generous, helpful, respectful human beings who shine the light of Christ to those around them.

Those low days will happen. I just hate it when it does.

We all need a little mental break here and there. I should be good for a while 🙂

Thriving on structure…I’ve got to find ME some of that.

I’ve known for a long time that it was a very real possibility that we would have to pull J-man out of school and home school him full-time. I put off the doing of it because I knew that the decision had implications for the very structure, or lack of it, in our lives. There are other, more important, reasons why we took him out of school but the thought of what it meant for me as a mom to become a teacher and be on top of his education and the structure of it…well, I was happy to leave that up to the teacher at school. I am really distractable so the pressure to segment my time and not have interuptions getting in my way seemed an impossible task.

J-man thrives on structure. Before he could tell time he would ask me “How much longer until…?” or “What time is it?” He would base all of his life around the time on the clock. I just thought of it as a quirky little attribute when he was very young. Being able to tell time has made a world of difference in his world. He no longer has to ask me what time it is but he certainly keeps track of everything in our lives and chats on and on about how much longer it is until…everything. If I have told him something is going to happen, it is very disturbing for him to have that cancelled by weather, sickness or any other reason.

On the very first day of “doing” homeschool, I had him create a schedule for us. We determined what order we would do certain things at. Have we followed it? Ah, some of the time.

The good news is that we are FINISHED Science for the year. Can I have a witness?? Are other moms as excited when they finish a subject in APRIL? So, that leaves us with the other subjects. The subjects that he was doing at school are Math and Language Arts. Oy!  There are the other two reasons we put off Homeschooling until the very last straw. I received the curriculum before Easter Break. I didn’t touch them until after the holiday. I was avoiding it,really . Then the online teacher and I emailed a little discussion about it. Since he was barely passing in school, and it was hard to figure exactly where to start in the books,we decided that it was best to start at the beginning of the courses instead of plunk ourselves somewhere near the end (since it is April). That had me very stressed. The teacher reminded me that it was better for him to actually understand the basic concepts rather than push him ahead of where he was at. I could not argue with it. So, we are starting at the beginning.

I do not like Math and LA, but I am learning right along side my child. I am learning what a subject and predicate are. This is probably a very good thing, since I am writing two books at the moment. I should know the basics of writing too.

My life has not become any more structured in the last few weeks. Our lives are at the very core, scattered. Since my main squeeze is a Pastor, our phone rings at any moment and if I answer it can very well turn our morning into an afternoon. If someone shows up at our house, it sends J-man into an internal panic and his behaviour goes a little nutty. He likes structure, so anything that messes with it can cause him to get in a tizzy. This is an interesting balance to figure out.

We are feeling our way through it. I am relieved to have one subject done, another almost done and then two more that we are starting at the beginning with. Who knows if we will get anywhere near “done” by June. I am trying not to panic about it.

I just want to figure out how to draw boundaries that will ensure our structure a little more predictably.

Bouncing

HE started bouncing this morning to a degree I haven’t seen for a while…since removing artificial dye and its artificial cohorts. There were occasional days where he was allowed, like Valentines Day, and one day was all he got. For the next 24-36 hours we had such a major noticeable difference in behavior, I’ve been more convinced that there is a need for keeping artificial dyes out of his diet.

So yesterday, without thinking, my darling man took the kids for a treat. Ice cream!  How exciting. Except they picked the Bubblegum flavor which is packed with dyes of all sort.

Cue bouncing. Thankfully, the season is changing and we can say “Go bounce on the trampoline.” But when he has to focus inside we are met with bouncing and hopping and flapping of arms and HE doesn’t even notice.

He says “At least I’m happy!”

Um yeah…

Detox includes lots of water. And lots of bouncing.

Thumb sucking

IMG_2011_04_03_3177

I was NEVER going to allow my kids to suck their thumbs. At least, I would never be that mom who has a five-year old still sucking their thumb. Ever.

Until I had my fourth kid in five years. Frankly, I was happy she was soothing herself, as a baby. I was even more deliriously happy that she was sleeping through the night and I didn’t have to get up and pat the floor around the crib to find that elusive paci. She was a happy (as they get) baby and did not even try the pacifier once. Nope. She spit that thing out as many times as I tried to stick it in her little mouth. I did my job attempting to prevent that most scandalous behavior. But, she loved that thumb, and I didn’t have the heart to make her gag and spit out soothers after the first 10 attempts on my part.

So I shrugged and thought to myself “How long will she like that thing anyways? She won’t go to college with her thumb in her mouth…will she?”

At this point? A valid question.

I have not made a big deal of it hoping that she would naturally just stop sucking the handy self-soother eventually.IMG_2010_06_15_1680 (2)

My first baby spit out his soother and couldn’t find it, so at 13 months old, he was over it. My second baby loved her soother and I didn’t make her give it up until after she was three. We had a big move right around that time and potty training and soother good-byes were too much. So we took it, after our move, in a blaze of glory. She didn’t give up easily. Our third had ear infection troubles and the ENT told us to get rid of it. No big deal, he did awesome! So, I thought, it would be with the fourth. Call me naive, call me stupid, call me inexperienced (ha!).

Enter thumb-sucking five-year old.

How in the world do you unattach someone from their thumb? How do you motivate someone that’s been doing it all their lives?

Poor thing. I had to get wiley. I put bandages around them. Bandages she couldn’t take off. Then she learned how to take them off, but didn’t tell me.

I tried the yucky stuff. You know, the stuff that tastes terrible? Yah, that didn’t work all that well either.

I kept putting bandages on every night and then some nights we’d forget. Bless her, she didn’t forget! I bribed her with this. You have to check these items out, especially if you are a parent to a SPD child.

hippo

Photo credit InnovAID

My mom and dad came to take care of the kids, when we took off for Jamaica, and I thought we may have a relapse, if you can call it that, since I’m pretty sure she never stopped. She had a callous on her thumb from it’s overuse. After we got home my dad mentioned that he hadn’t seen her sucking it, so I looked on her thumb and sure enough, her callous was all but gone!

I guess the bribery worked. Or us going away. Or some good, old-fashioned prayer

Taking him out of school

Today we made the decision to pull our boy from school.

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It was a big decision but one that has been coming for a long, long time.

Before he even entered school we had entertained thoughts that his differences may make him a target for other children who would not be understanding of his differences. In other words, we pretty much knew bullying could be an issue for him and put him into public school hoping that “the establishment” could help other kids become more compassionate and keep those kids accountable for their actions. We knew that it could be a learning and strengthening thing in is life. That is to a certain point. We know that adversity brings great strength or great chaos into a person’s character. We were committed to helping him be the person of strength. We’re not through on this one, but we see great strides.

That being said, we didn’t know that he would face such drama! His last five years have been filled with situations that have not been something any child should go through. I can’t go through it all as I love the kids that have done and said things to him, and I’m not going to release information that isn’t mine to share. I see their potential as much as I see my son’s. There are some amazing kids in that class but they are also a tough bunch. They are with each other from Kindergarten until they graduate, most of them. It’s a small town. It goes down like that.

When things took a dramatic turn last week in an incident that involved some of his closest friends, who described it as “it’s just a game”….that’s when we knew that our boy had to be kept safe. When close friends, whom he is fiercely loyal to, then betrayed that trust and became a part of the group targeting him, well, the last bell had been rung.

I need to keep my child safe. He doesn’t get all the situations going on. He can’t keep track of all the innuendo and whether they are mocking him this time or not, whether that friend is telling me to do something I shouldn’t? He has too many messages coming at him that are NOT healthy and have scarred his sensitive heart.

HE has been AMAZING in his ability to get through the difficult and sometimes excruciating  “incidents” he’s had to endure. He’s the kind of guy who hates conflict (doesn’t know why they start) and having to work it out. If it is “worked out” (according to the system in place) then he thinks  all is good and everything is right again. When best friends turned on him he didn’t know what to think. He just wanted to be a part of the group and the group excluded him, on many occasions. So much confusion right now.  We needed to take him out of it. Thankfully, he left on a good  note thinking all was well and friends were friends. I am thankful that the powers that be have been committed to try and mend situations as best they can. Some of it is out of their hands and some of it is interpretation of the “law”.

Sure it’s going to be a process. I mean, Me? Teaching Math??? Scary thought. But you know, I am ready to do anything my kids need to help them to be beacons of light in this world. I am prepared to do what it takes to parent each of my children in the ways they need me to. I want my kids to be Brave kids who can tackle what the world throws at them. I believe my son has learned a bit of what the world can throw at him and in the end faced it well. He’s grown so much!

I am proud of him and see him thriving with a homeschooling atmosphere. We can adapt our lives and his education to fit him. I can give him one on one personal attention and introduce him to a different social group. One that I can keep track of personally.

He is going to ROCK it!

But first he’s grieving a change and he’s grieving his change in friendships. Aspies don’t love change and this is a change he is not looking forward to. Eventually, it will just become what we do and everything will get easier and we’ll have a routine/schedule that he’ll get into.

I am so proud of the things I see developing in his life and look forward to bringing the tools to further develop his potential personally.

Daddy and Mommy are running away for a week

Jamaica
Jamaica (Photo credit: Cruise Buzz)

My darling hubby and I are leaving for a vacation to a tropical paradise in a few short nights. Twenty years of marriage, four kids, and one cat later, we need it! WE haven’t been out of country together since Disneyland 1996. That’s a long time ago! And if you count that I had a bad sinus cold at the time, it really doesn’t count. I can’t WAIT!! We’re going to Jamaica…**insert happy dance here**

And do you know what that means to an Aspie? Yes, it means we are upsetting his apple cart of life and throwing lots of “not the regular” kind of things at him.

I am ok with this. And he thinks he is ok too.

He is almost eleven. My first baby turns 11 while we’re gone! Oh, I know, we are very mean. He is getting so “mature” and more able to anticipate things. Happily, he gave his blessing as he seems to know that this time away, in the sun, will do us some good. My eldest daughter thought she may stow away in our suitcase. I don’t think so, chickie, because I’m doing a head count before we leave.

While we are gone Grams and Gramps will take care of the critters. They travelled from two provinces away, on winter roads, to help us pull off this escape of grand proportions. They are going to do fabulous!  Both the kids and the grandparents.

I think I worry my parents with all the talk of sleep walking, keep them off of red dye, please don’t forget this medication… but I know they will be awesome. Afterall, they have to be, because we’ll be a long plane trip away and can’t call us home. Tee hee.

No really, I think my kids will keep it together until we get back. That’s when there will be he** to pay. A whole week out of their “normal” routine with mom and dad gone? Ow, it’s probably going to hurt. But then, we’ll have a tan to remind us what an awesome time we had together, look at each other with a “Hey Mon” and chill about it. Right?

RIIiiiggght.

I’m not thinking of the “fall-out”, as I so lovingly, have dubbed what happens after a vacation/time out of our normal routine. I am thinking Jamaican thoughts. Laying on the beach thoughts…happy thoughts.

Then SHE came

All was right in our world. We had the answer to our prayers in our arms. We revelled in parenting this small, but enormous, miracle.

Then she came.

I had prayed for a girl and trusting God would direct the next child into our family.

But first, he came.

He came shortly after Christmas on a blustery day. He was a tiny and homely baby. I don’t say this often about babies, but he was not a cute one. His skin was red, wrinkly and he was in need of some good old-fashioned love. A few hours earlier his Social Worker had called us. They needed a home for this wee newborn and maybe he would come up for adoption. Even though I had prayed for a girl and had her in my heart, we said yes to this little boy. He was colicky and noisy but we grew to love him from the bottom of our hearts. Our J-man took him in too. He would talk to Z and make him smile.

Four months later, we got the call. A tiny girl had been born and we’d been chosen to be her parents. Her birth history was interesting and we had to consider the fact that it would mean three kids 2 yrs and under. We must have been under the influence of sleep deprivation because we said “yes”. Everything in her birth history, God had prepared me for. I knew she was the one.

Enter – Extreme Exhaustion.

I had no idea you could be that tired and survive.

She was ornery and trying to adjust to life outside. She was a premie and perhaps exposed to drugs, at the very least nicotine. She was a beautiful, dark-haired little princess. Her sensitive nervous system would make her shake and cry. In my delirium of trying to keep up with all the little children, I feel I did not get to enjoy her early days. I would love to go back and remember some of them. I wish I had the time to snuggle her little body and breathe her baby scent in. I would do a few things differently if I had it to do again.

It was six weeks later that Z went to live with relatives. We were so saddened and relieved at the same. I just didn’t think I could take care of so many babies, on a continued basis, without support. We had done those 6 weeks mostly on our own and it was incredibly hard. I’m pretty sure that this time in our lives will go down as one of the most difficult times to survive.

Belle was a fussy baby who didn’t sleep, ever. She napped for maybe 20 minutes during the day and would wake up every 1-2 hours at night. She didn’t love to be held but didn’t want to be put down either. By the time she was 11 months old I was suffering from severe issues due to sleep deprivation. My body was so wound up I couldn’t sleep even though I was extremely exhausted. I got medical help and life seemed to improve. I believe medicine can be a miracle and it was for me. Getting help for my sleep issues made a difference for us all.

It was during this time, as Belle would wake up to every noise, that I noticed J-man having freak-outs. I would get so upset that he’d stand at the stairs (where she was just above) and start crying. She would then wake up and need attention. Sometimes I would have no idea what he was crying at. His food issues were becoming more noticeable as he neared three years old. Everything seemed to be getting more pronounced. I am so thankful I had people in my life who knew who to go to and where to get help.

Managing two sensitive kids seemed to take all the energy I could muster. We thought maybe we were “done” having children. Two blessings were more than we had hoped for. But, as the next two years passed we figured we may just have more room in our hearts for another. We decided to foster-to-adopt again (which is how Z came to be with us for 5 months, before Belle).

Belle progressed in her development at lightening speed and did everything ahead of time, which also gave me some more clues that all was not right in J-man’s world. She appeared to be bored at 2 months old and I can tell you, eight years later, that I was probably right. She had a mind that just needed stimulation. Always moving, thinking and doing. Seeing her progress “normally” gave me insight into how most babies develop.

the two could not be any different. As different as they were, they clashed a lot as she was able to assert herself. She figured, I imagine, that she should have been born first. J-man is a very passive person, but Belle has pushed him to assert his place as the first-born. I imagine that they were born for each other. In God’s infinite wisdom and grace he placed these two incredible people so that, as the saying goes, iron sharpens iron. Indeed, I have seen these two sharpen each other. J-man has had to learn to be assertive, and it took him a LONG time. Belle has had to learn (and is still learning) how to be more sensitive in her leadership. It’s a beautiful thing to see such different personalities come together and cooperate in their uniqueness.

What was it like?

Oh those big green eyes! They were like wading into pools of emerald green tropical water when they welled up with inevitable tears. I found my own soul writhing in agony as I watched his pain. When a mother is helpless to aide their child, it is with a profound feeling of failure. I found myself in this state so many times in a day it all blended together.

When the moments were peaceful, his giant eyes would alight with stars so bright I thought I may die in delight. He was the child I had prayed for, for so many years and I was entranced and entralled by his unique and wonderful personality. We did everything together. I could attend to his every need because I was focused on being the best mom to this child that I could possibly be.

Feeding my boy was a challenge from the very beginning. Oh, he would scarf down a bottle in no time flat. He drank well and regularily. The signs the nurses told me to look for, that would indicate hunger, did not exist. He did not give even a hint of hunger until the pangs hit with a fury. I could not move fast enough to prevent the tortured cries of my newborn. He was just hungry, NOW. I tried inducing lactation so that he would have the benefit of breastmilk and bonding with me. It went fairly well except that he would feed every 2.5 hours and to get the whole system (Supplemental Nutrition System) hooked up took time and with his loud and desperate cries increasing as I tried attaching tubes, filling the bottle and getting him latched…well, it was all out stressful. We lasted 2 months. then we were done.

When it was time to introduce solid foods, he did not like it even a little. His face scrunched up with distaste as I passed the spoon filled with rice cereal into his mouth. A little later, we tried food with texture. Gagging reflexes ensued. He was a smooth texture kind of guy. That lasted a very long time. Getting him to feed himself was nonexistent for years. Tentative were the very first attempts and his reward was not sweet enough to get him to do it again. His first birthday found him looking at the cake instead of experimenting with his fingers.

I waited anxiously to see him acheive his milestones like rolling. Only, he wouldn’t budge. I nudged him over. He looked at me like, “What just happened and why would you do that?” I patiently showed him which part needed to go first to get over. He got it, eventually. Sitting was traumatic. We would prop him up and he would fall right back down because life was better lying down. He would bang his head and screech. I would set him up again and that darn head would drag him back down. Eventually, he realized he really hated falling on his head, so he would sit there with his arms all rigid and concentrate madly on balancing on his bum. An “army crawl” was his mode of transportation if he wanted to dare get a toy with wheels. He loved those wheels, rolling them back and forth and back and forth. He would do that for hours.

Learning how to walk was not self motivated. He seemed to hate the feeling of having his feet on the ground, especially on grass. But, we walked and walked and walked and encouraged and he finally did it! We were so proud! He learned how to walk on the outer edges of what’s considered “normal”.

Social functions usually ended up the same way everytime. Our boy would appear ok one minute, then end up screaming the next. Usually it was when he tried joining in with other kids. He just didn’t seem to understand what was going on. Or maybe it was too loud or….Birthday parties were a bust. Oh my. I can’t even tell you how torturous it was to have him look forward to a day so much only for it to go terribly wrong as the minutes passed. We learned to keep social outings as short as we could. As a pastor’s family we had a lot of social functions. We just did what we had to and hoped it would get better for him.

Through it all, We were just tickled to be his parents and so we thought we should do it again. Parenting seemed a breeze, once you got the hang of it.