Ten years ago, less one day, just minutes before midnight, I was wheeled into an operating room, having just been told that my baby had to be taken out of me. The first thing I said, was, “It’s too soon!!” as I bawled. I was only 32 weeks and 6 days along in the pregnancy (and yes, I knew exactly what day he was conceived).
I was assured that the baby would be fine; although he would have to be flown down to the big city to a higher level NICU. As the doctor went to work, cutting me open and taking my baby out, I wondered when she was going to start. It’s not like on TV, when they announce to the world that they are cutting. And when the baby was taken out, I was not given a peek or a look or anything. He went directly to the pediatrician on call, who checked his vitals and monitored his breathing. It was only when I heard a squeak and thought how odd it was to hear a mouse, that I suddenly realized my son was trying to cry. I bawled again, but this time it was because I knew he was going to be fine. Somehow, I just knew he was ok. It was five minutes past midnight. He was now officially a 33 weeker.
The first thing my son taught me, was that even if you take a hypnobirthing class, write a birth plan and practice and practice getting ready for the birth, you never know if something is going to happen and you end up with a c-section. You can make all the plans you want, but life will happen as it’s supposed to. And in that moment, I was able to shift gears and roll with all the changes.
The next thing he taught me was how little sleep I can survive on, between pumping milk for him around the clock and driving to and from the big city to see him every day: about a 3 1/2 round trip. And even after he came home, he taught me that I can survive with a preemie and even less sleep. He started training me to become Detective Mom right off the bat. After weeks of having a screaming, miserable baby, with the help of the internet, I figured out that this little one didn’t tolerate cow’s milk, and was refluxing.
As he grew, Little Man taught me repeatedly that when I make plans for my life or especially for his, to be prepared for a change in plans. Since he was two, I have gotten quite an education on children with neurological issues where their brains don’t process things quite right. Fortunately, I learned a bit at a time, figuring out the puzzle that is my son, piece by piece, so it wasn’t too overwhelming.
I discovered a wonderful parenting philosophy called Positive Discipline, whose focus is on problem solving and raising a responsible, confident, capable child. Because of my son, I have had lots of practice using the PD tools I learned; especially the one of giving myself a time out so I don’t go off on him. I have seen over time, that these tools really do work.
Shortly after Little Man turned 2, he taught me about speech development and what it is to be speech delayed. Soon thereafter, began my education in something called Sensory Integration Dysfunction (these days called Sensory Processing Disorder). Over the years I learned more about things like what it is to have poor visual and audio processing, and how this can make trying to learn in a classroom setting very difficult.
I have also learned about signs and symptoms, challenges and strengths of Dyslexia. Most recently I’ve had an adventure learning about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and all the medications that don’t help Little Man in this area. And I am also learning how a child with all these neurological things going on, often also has anxiety.
Because of my son, I learned Reiki and subsequently had a spiritual awakening. That has been an amazing journey that is still a relatively new one. I have learned that what I used to call tactile defensiveness (a sensory processing disorder term), I now refer to as my son’s amazing gift to feel energy with his hands and body. I also learned that a brain that struggles to learn in the classroom and is labeled dyslexic, may be amazingly intuitive and creative (and he is).
In living with a son who struggles on an almost daily basis with one thing or another, and who has meltdowns at the drop of a hat, I have learned (and am still learning) a level of patience I never knew. And being my son’s mom, trying to help him, advocating for him, I am learning that I have persistence (some people call it stubbornness) that would bring the average person to their knees. Yes, I have been brought to my knees many times, and because of my son, I have learned how to take a breath or two and get back up… again and again.
But I think one of the biggest lessons I am learning from my son is that of respecting his journey: realizing that there are a lot of things that he has to learn on his own. Things that I can’t do for him. I will always help him up when he’s down, encourage him, guide and teach him, push him when necessary, and love him all the way. When he succeeds, it is, and will be his success. As much as he has taught me, he has his own lessons to learn.
Happy Birthday Little Man! We made it ten years!!