In September of 2010 I was introduced to my second child, Buggie. My labor started out as a typical induction. I was given antibiotics for Group B strep, but was allergic to them and the iv had to be stopped and flushed as my airways began to swell. A new antibiotic was given and things progressed as would be expected. My doctor came in and checked me out then broke my water. This all happened around 1 pm. By 3 pm the nurse was calling in another nurse and they were looking at my contractions and Buggie’s heart rate, I did not know this at the time. They quickly put me on oxygen and told me to stay calm, that everything was okay. In my mind I’m thinking really this isn’t my first child I know this isn’t right and you expect me to stay calm?!? I didn’t keep the oxygen on long before I was asking questions to find out what was wrong with me and/or my baby. In a tone that I feel only medical professionals can perfect, they calmly told me my baby’s hear rate was dropping every time I had a contraction. They called it d-cells. This mommy was not going to stay calm. My mind was racing and I was SCARED!
The next hour of my life seemed like the longest there had ever been. Not only was his heart rate dropping with each contraction, but I had stopped dilating. By the time my doctor arrived at the hospital my contractions were stronger and his heart rate was dropping lower. My doctor had to put probes onto his head to be able to better monitor his heart rate and make some quick decisions. She ordered the OR to be prepped and on standby. While that happened she worked to bring my son into the world. She manipulated my cervix, told me when to push, and when to stop. Once Buggie was out she had to unwrap the cord from around his neck. This little man was brought into the world blue as could be. I didn’t realize this until I didn’t hear him cry right away. Thank God for my mom being there. She talked me through everything and did her best to keep me calm. Finally I heard the best sound ever, my little guy cried. **sigh**
Buggie was an easy baby. He didn’t cry, he slept a lot, he ate great. Around 6 months old I started noticing that he wasn’t doing things at the same rate his older sister was. He wasn’t trying to crawl or sit up. I brushed it off as each child will develop in their own time. By a year old he wasn’t walking and wasn’t babbling. My dad and I talked about it and he thought my son might have autism. I talked to his doctor and my concerns were brushed off with “Boys develop slower, he’ll catch up.” He did, at 18 months he finally started walking but still wasn’t talking. He had no eye contact didn’t want to be held, didn’t play with his toys, cried when I had to vacuum, wouldn’t drink from a sippy cup … the list goes on.
Finally after his third birthday I demanded that he be screened by Child Find, he was and when he failed his first hearing test they stopped screening until we saw and ENT. We did, and his hearing was fine. Back to Child Find … again he failed the hearing test … back to ENT … again told he was fine with his hearing. I WAS FED UP! The system was messing with my kid and I was fit to be tied. But what did I know? We moved to a different county and our file was lost in transition (No surprise there), almost a year later we got back for a screening. Lil man was evaluated by a multidisciplinary team, he saw a developmental ped, slp, ot, and so many more. He was diagnosed with PDD-NOS. He was diagnosed as being on the spectrum. In my mind the world was over. I put all the pieces back together and knew I had to go on with what had to be done. I had to take care of things, but I was devastated. The next month was a blur of internet searching, losing friends and feeling alone and angry. DAMN IT, I WAS MAD! Then my oldest daughter had to have oral surgery on a night I was supposed to go to an autism Q&A for one of my classes.
After she was out of surgery and back home with me and my mom recovering, my mom urged me to go to this Q&A for school. I remember looking at my mom with this look like, seriously mom? My son was just diagnosed a month ago this is the LAST THING I want to do!
I went, still angry at the world. Angry at what, in my mind autism took away.
Here is what I learned that night, a meer month after finding out my son had autism. The world did not take anything from me, it just gave me a name to go with everything I already knew about my son. I remember sitting with my classmates, in front of four other moms who told their stories, bawling my eyes out. One of the moms had told me “Oh, honey don’t cry for us …” she paused, looked at me and said “You’re not crying for us, you’re accepting your new life aren’t you?”
That one statement, that one ounce of compassion from a complete stranger changed my life. That night I shared my story with my classmates, people I didn’t know. That night I accepted that there is nothing that autism took away. That night I cried and mourned what I thought I wanted for my son’s life and accepted where we were at. I became a warrior and a voice for my children.
That night, in front of a room full of strangers, I bonded with a mom and cried because I had finally found peace.
Lil Advocate, Buggie, friend