I don't even know where to begin. I did know. Put some notes down in my phone. And then my phone broke. Again. Got a new phone and, of course, all my notes are gone. So, I'm back to square one. I guess I'll just start from the beginning.When Nick was born, he was, I gotta say, just a really great baby. Very easy. Slept a lot. Didn't fuss much about much. Quiet. Content. Unfazed. He was really good. At first I thought, this is great! But you know the saying, too much of anything is bad. I started to get the feeling that he was "too good." I felt like he should want to chase after his big brother. But for the most part, he was uninterested. He could stay in the jumperoo for…. forever! I remember W could stay in that thing a long time but N beat his record by a mile. And then, of course, there were other things. Delays in milestones, mostly. I wasn't worried about the walking and talking so much, mostly because W was a late walker and so many of the toddlers we knew didn't say much until the age of 2.
It was other stuff. Like when I nursed him, he never looked at me. Here we are doing the most powerful bonding activity you could do as a mom and child, and he wouldn't even look at me. It was heartbreaking. He would smile and look at us enough to ease any real worries I had in the beginning. But it wasn't enough. Not for me. As he got closer to his first birthday, I noticed other things: how didn't even try to crawl, wasn't putting his hands to his mouth, wasn't pointing or giving us things. All these little things that babies should be doing by age 1, N wasn't. So, of course, I started to worry.
Then, at N's one year checkup, his pediatrician seemed concerned with N's delays. Now, let me just preface this event with the fact that this doctor does not think ANYTHING is worth worrying over. We're talking about a man who didn't even want to prescribe a Epipen for W's peanut allergy. Older, Asian male doctor who has seen it all and is in need of retirement. Old. Asian. And male. Need I say more? Why we are still with him, don't ask. It's on my To Do List. ( Please note: my boys have a new pediatrician, crossing off on To Do List as we speak) It seemed that he was mostly concerned with the fact that N wasn't saying the basic "mama" and "dada." Whatever. Point is, the doctor who never worries seemed worried. Said we'll see what happens at the 15 month checkup.
I was officially upset. I did the awful thing that all of us do in this day of advanced technology. I went home and started researching online. Honestly, it drives me nuts when people use the internet like it's their Bible. But I wanted answers now. The more articles I read, the more discouraged I got. All the questionnaires I filled out and scored told me, Yes, something is wrong. I went from sleeping little, to sleeping shitty. To this day, my digestion is off track. Life was a sinking boat, and at this point, I didn't care if I reached the bottom of the sea. After reading so many articles and filling out so many questionnaires and finding all these red flags that coincided with our baby, I decided it was time to do something about it. There was this one article that really made an impact on me. Actually, it was just one sentence about how so many parents of autistic children mistakenly go through life thinking that they have a really good baby. It was like a slap in the face. A much needed wake up call. That was us!!! We think he is just a really good awesome baby. That perhaps there is more to it than that. Or perhaps, he's both.
P knew of my concerns early on, but again, N was so damn good, that it was easy to feel silly for worrying at all. In fact, he thought N was delayed, but totally fine. I think everyone around thought that same thing, that I was jumping to conclusions. And here's what I have to say to that. I hope I'm wrong. I hope and pray everyday to God, that I'm so wrong to the point of embarrassment. Please, make me wrong. But!! in case I'm not wrong, I would be even angrier for not having done something about it when I first had concerns. Live for no regrets, remember?
After all the reading I did, I knew my gut was right. Always listen to your gut. N needed help. Whether it's autism or whatever, bottom line is, he has delays and he needs help. So with that conclusion, we sought help. P found this study they were doing at UCLA for early intervention for autism. It was perfect. You see, you can't really diagnose autism, on paper, anyway, until the age of 2. But studies have shown that there are signs starting from 12 months to 24 months. This was perfect for us. We called immediately and qualified after some assessment. He qualified. It's official. Boom. It was weird to feel devastated and relieved all at the same time. Obviously, I was hoping the good folks at UCLA would say that he was totally fine and that we were over reacting. But instead, they wanted him to start right away. A part of me was also grateful that P found this study so that we can start helping our precious N get back on track. The sooner the better. I hate regret. I think we all know this by now. And if 20 years from now, they discover that , yes, early intervention does help enormously, I don't want to be that idiot mom who was too delusional and in denial to have done something for her helpless child.
So it's been a few months since we've started. It's play-based therapy. It feels very much like preschool. He gets a lot of personal attention and everything is catered to his needs. They get the info they need for their study, while we get the help we need, which would normally cost an arm and a leg, at no cost. The study is almost over and I can honestly say that I see progress. He is much more engaged with us and other people. And he makes much more effort to communicate with us, which is huge! Autism is a communication disorder. Basically, there is no communication. Can you imagine? Here you are, raising and loving this child of yours and he/she may never know it. And they may never love you back. I think this is an especially cruel type of torture, in my opinion. Just thinking about it makes me cry. His teachers seem real pleased with his progress and tell me that I should remember his strengths. He's very interested in people. Looks them square in the eye and smiles. I'm told this is extremely hard to teach. Since N already likes socializing, we just have to work on the other stuff, which I guess, by comparison, is small potatoes. I also found out he's the baby of their study. The youngest, not by much. But they are all smitten with him and now that he waves back, you'd think Elvis just winked at them for something. It's hilarious!
|Profile of perfection.|
|He's usually sitting like this when I attack hug him.|
From here, we'll continue to seek more help. It's hard work because it's not natural. It's not natural to have to teach a child how to play with someone else. Something we all take for granted. W was so easy in this sense. Superb, even. And I keep thinking that only he would be able to be N's big brother. They are meant to be each other's brother. W's oversensitivity and need to please is what will make him N's guardian for life. He will always try to make his brother happy. Though I will say that we are going through a bit of a rough patch on that front. I think all the extra attention we've been giving N, plus the fact that N is now very interested in W's toys and is on the verge of walking has been stressing W out to a new level. There's some jealousy and irrational behavior lately. Sometimes I even find him being mean to N. And I don't know if I'm being overly protective of N or just intolerable of that sort of behavior, but I get so mad at W when he gets like that. He is so sweet and loving by nature, that to see him be…. a normal bratty 3 year old makes me crazy.
The other day, I got so fed up with him. I heard N crying and immediately went running. I didn't see it happen, but based on the guilty look on W's face, my guess is that he pushed N away from his toys. Does it all the time. Don't get me wrong. N is tough. He only cried for a couple of seconds and went right on to something else. He's not the drama queen that his big brother is. Not yet, anyway. But again, it just pisses me off that my angel of a son could be so cruel as to push a baby! So in my rage, I asked him if he wanted N to go away. Did he want me to get rid of his baby brother? And he said yes. Oh. That was it. I. Was. Done. So I told him that I would. That he no longer has a baby brother and that I would be leaving as well, because someone has to take care of the baby. And that he would have to find a new mommy because I was no longer his mommy. He just gave me that stink face and huffed for the next half hour. I made his usually oatmeal but decided not to serve it to him. I just clearly stated that his mommy is supposed to feed him breakfast and since the baby and I are no longer a part of his family, I would not be giving him breakfast. GASP! You didn't feed you child? Shut up! You weren't there. Anyway, I dropped him off at school and told him that I would not be picking him up since I wasn't his mommy anymore and that I would no longer be picking him up or taking him to school and said good luck finding a new mommy. He gave me a mean look then ran into his teacher's arms crying. I left without another word. I felt bad but not awful because, like I said, he really upset me.
Why did it bother me so much that he was just protecting his toys? Well, I realized that I'm expecting too much of him in terms of N. That old adage It takes a village to raise a child couldn't be more true in this case. It takes a village, some specialists and a lot of divine intervention. That's what it takes. And W being difficult at a time like this makes me feel like he's trying to sabotage what we're doing to help N. Ridiculous, right? I know. And yet, I still think it's unacceptable to behave that way. Not now. Maybe when N is walking and looking at his brother square in the eye, saying I'm going to take your trains! Maybe only then will I think…alright big brother, put him in his place! Lol!! But until then, I need this support from him. I need him to be awesome again. Because it takes awesome to make awesome. Go ahead, cross stitch that sucker on a pillow. I'll wait.
I called his teacher later that morning to see how he was doing. Did I traumatize my son? Quite possibly. You know what she said? She said he's fine, totally having a great day. When she asked him about what happened, he said, "My mommy won't listen to me." Can you believe the nerve of that kid? I won't listen?!!? Sigh. So my little Broadway act didn't do anything. I was relieved to hear that he wasn't sad and moping all day because he thought I quit my job as his mommy. But now I was more determined that ever. I felt the Husktable in me coming out. Consistency and follow-through. The keys to successful parenting! I had P pick him from school that afternoon, while I stayed hidden in the parking lot. I couldn't be home, right? N and I was supposed to have moved out, remember? Well, I went home about 5 minutes later and found my husband and my son sitting on the couch. P just looked at me and shook his head. "He doesn't get it." That's what he said. The performance of my parental career and it didn't make a dent. Sigh.
Or so we thought. It's been a few days since and W has been very sweet and loving towards N. I did have to remind him a couple of times to be nice but I also caught him giving N hugs and kissing his head when he thought I wasn't looking. Be still my heart. I think he got the message.
|He was so exited to be feeding him crackers.|
|Look at his pinkie!!!|
Of all the progress N has made, the thing that I really love seeing him interested in his big brother. Especially since W was soooo in love with him when he was born and none of that affection was being reciprocated. Soon, N is really going to give his brother a run for his money and I can't wait. I'd much rather hear them bickering over toys than the silent void of disjointed play that once filled this house.
|Watching the master of happy faces at work.|
|Those aren't cheeks and eyebrows. Those are ears under the eyes and hair in between. In case you were wondering.|
|Pretty good, if you ask me.|
Meanwhile, we've been busy. W is now potty trained! Well, almost. He still won't do Number 2 in public or at school. But I can't blame him. I have friends who still can't go unless they are home. Can't get my head around that. Why would want to keep poop inside of you any longer than you have to? Gross. Surprisingly, he trained fairly quickly. He had no problems sitting on the potty, especially if he had some gadget to play with. And he peed in it right away. He pooped in it without us even asking him to. That was a pleasant, yet smelly surprise! The problem was getting him to go in the big potty. We should've started there from the beginning but we thought the little one would be more enticing. I can easily say that it is one of my life's biggest regrets. Cleaning that thing after every deposit was … humbling. Very humbling. Once he moved to the big potty, we had to get him to both upstairs AND downstairs. To W, they are very different toilets. Sigh. Then we got him to pee standing up because that kid just cannot get his pee in the toilet sitting down. Also very humbling. Then he had to learn to aim. And then he had to learn to flush. I know, flush?! It's the loudness of it. He HATES it. Now I just need to get him to poop when we're not home. Sadly, he cannot hold it in so… it's been messy at times. I think we'll tackle wiping next. See, W is changing schools in the fall and they require all kids to be potty-trained. Wiping and all. God help us. TMI? Son, I just want you to use this little journal as a guide to true love. It isn't love if they aren't willing to be elbow-deep in your pee and poop for you. I'm right, you'll see.
|Notice where he keeps his water cup.|
|He can sit there for quite some time.|
I feel hopeful. Everything happens for a reason. I still believe this. I'm just going to continue to believe this and hope for the best. The big picture is this. Our family is so blessed. I'm continually bombarded with moments of joy and this keeps me afloat. My daydreams of road trips and camping are still very present. I don't have any more time to be sad. Life goes on and we're keeping up. Meanwhile, I'm going to fight whatever is keeping my baby in a fog. I'm amped and ready.