Your Text Can Wait

April 19, 2010 was one of the worst days of my life.  It opened my eyes to a lot.  I laid in the hospital bed without a scratch on me.  Sure my back and neck hurt, but other than that, I felt fine.  But it didn’t matter.

I can still picture you.  Crying over your precious car.  Not bothering to come over and check on me, or the woman you sent me hurdling into.  Only the other woman and the officer asked how I was.  “I’m pregnant” I said quietly to the officer.  He asked if I wanted an ambulance.  Did I?  No, I can’t even afford it.  I’m just gonna go.  I look back and you are still upset as your car is being towed.  And all I can think is, you selfish bitch.

I remember being stopped in traffic on Southfield.  That the light was green but because of the construction we were at a stand still.  I remember reaching down for my Tim Horton’s Ice Cap, the only thing I was able hold down at the time.  I remember looking in the rear-view mirror as I did and braced for what was clearly about to happen.  With your phone in your hand eyes clearly on it as the light from your screen left a blue haze on your face.  I’m trapped, I can’t move.  I’m honking to try and get your attention, making people angry thinking that I’m honking at the traffic.  Watching you try to brake, but it was too late.

Then the impact, and the second impact.  You hit me and I was sent flying into the woman in front of me.  I remember thinking that I was kind of far away from the car in front of me considering it was bumper to bumper traffic.  That maybe I won’t hit it.  But no such luck.  I slammed into her just as you slammed into me.  You never came to talk to us.  The woman in front of me informed me that I hit her so hard her wig flew off.  That’s always the part that I talk about, making light of it.  But it wasn’t light.  It wasn’t funny.  It was terrifying.

“I’m pregnant,” I quietly said to the officer.  It was the first time I really felt it.  The first time I had really connected with it.   I was just about 9 weeks pregnant.  I had just found 2 weeks before.  And I was scared.  Just a couple people knew.  I was embarrassed and ashamed at 19 years old.  My mom said she would support me in whatever decision I would make, but I had to make it for myself.  Tears in my eyes, heart in my chest.  “I’m pregnant,” I quietly said to the officer, admitting it out loud, being the only time it felt real.

He made it seem like it wasn’t a big deal but asked if I wanted an ambulance.  I didn’t.  I was fine.  Right?  And I drove to campus.  I went to a few classes.  I went and spent time with my usual crew in the cafeteria, still in shock.  I called my mom again.  Should I go to the hospital?  “I would” she says.  So I leave school and drive myself to the hospital.  She meets me there.

I laid in the hospital bed, without a scratch on me.  Sure my back and neck hurt, but other than that, I felt fine.  But it didn’t matter.  Tears in my eyes as they do the ultra sound.  As I watch my baby dance across the screen for the first time.  “It’s okay” I’m thinking.  But no, not so fast.  I’m crushed as they tell me that it doesn’t mean anything.  That it can still die.  That injuries can still happen.  That I can still have a miscarriage.  And I think about you crying over your car as they tell me, the same way you would tell someone what you want from a restaurant, that if my baby dies they would do a procedure and take it out in chunks.  “Chunks” was what I was told.  I spend 7 hours in the hospital and sent home with several weeks, at least, of bed rest.

I decided in the hospital, when there was a possibility of my choice being taken away, that I had to get real.  There was no way I could give up my baby.  I don’t know why I even pretended like I could.  Adoption or abortion, it didn’t matter.  I decided then and there that baby was mine regardless of how anyone else felt about it.  Don’t pat yourself on the back for that.  I would have eventually come to the same decision.  It just came much faster.

That baby, is a boy named Keegan.  He brings such light to my life.  The sun rises on his face.  He is so smart, handsome, and sweet.  But sometimes I wonder, if your selfish act is the reason his brain is different.  His sensory issues and possible autism, could that be because of the trauma to his early developing brain? Were you the reason that he was a two vessel cord baby? Did the other vessel tear during that accident?  We weren’t even aware until quite a ways on.  Were you the reason he was small?  Or the reason that his legs were short?  Or the reason the amniotic fluid wasn’t fantastic.  Was that you?  I guess we will never know.

What would I say to you if I got the chance?  What would I ask you?  What was on your phone that was worth risking lives over?  Some Facebook post?  A text?  Were you talking and holding your phone down looking at it instead of holding it up to your cheek?  What was the deal?  What was so exciting?  That’s all I want to know.

What did your text say?

 

My son hates everything I love

My son, the very thing I live for, absolutely hates nearly everything I love.

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Art fairs, street fairs, state fairs…pretty much any fairs.  Movie theaters and malls.  Anything loud or crowded and he’s out.

I live and thrive around people.  I love some of the small, silly interactions you have with strangers.  I love crowds.  I just love people watching and seeing how events can bring people together.  I just like people, period.

My son screams at children that look at him.  Or hides when anyone he doesn’t know comes near him.  He tends to like adults and tolerates kids he knows.  But he hates being around a lot of people regardless of age.

I love exploring.  I love the invigoration of a new place.  I love experiencing new things. I like spontaneity.

My son hates leaving the house most of the time.  And the only time he tolerates it is when he is given plenty of warning.  New places are the worst.

I love when I am warm and toasty and snuggled up under the covers.

My son says his skin is itchy when he gets warm.

I love going out to eat.  I love someone else cooking food I can’t make.  I love trying new food from all different cultures.

My son does not like restaurants, especially if there are a lot of people or it’s too loud.  He gets the same thing everywhere we go.  Pizza, chicken nuggets, fries.  One of those.

I LOVED spirit days at school.  I was so excited for him to experience them and do fun and silly stuff.

My son is not down with the silliness.  He is not okay with doing anything other than the regular routine.

But also…

My son loves video games.  He loves Mario Bros and Minecraft the most.  It is one of his only true interests.

I can’t stand talking about video games constantly.  I will play them from time to time but day in and day out? No thank you.

My son likes being cold because he is a constant hotbox.

Being cold seems to physically hurt me. If it is 80 degrees outside and there is the slightest breeze, it’s cold and I’m putting a sweater on.

My son likes playing cars at home.  He likes playing in the yard with his toys.

I can’t stand being in the house all the time and I’m not particularly good at playing with cars.  And if I’m going to be outside I would rather be at a park than in the yard.

My son likes the consistency of knowing the foods he is going to eat that day.  Pre-approved by him.

I hate making his lunch for that reason, I feel like I’m feeding a hamster eating the same boring thing everyday.

And…

My son gets nervous in new situations and gets extreme anxiety about them.

I cried the first time I had to put gas in the car by myself even though I knew what to do. Even though I had run in to pay for gas all the time.  I get anxiety when doing new things.

My son is perfectly fine with noise, as long as he is the one making it.  A lot of the time, things are too loud for his comfort.

I can’t stand certain sounds, unless I am the one making them.

My son tenses up when people touch him, especially on his shoulders.

I tense up when people touch my upper back, or if they are too close to my face.

My son doesn’t like looking people in the eye.

I don’t like looking people in the eye when they are feeling intense emotion, especially if it is anger or frustration.

This is sensory processing disorder.  It is such a small taste.  Sound like complaining?  No, it’s not.  It’s just easier to explain to others.  We each make exceptions and do what we can to make each other happy.  My son is amazing and so unbelievably sweet.  He does things he can’t stand because he knows I want to.  As do I for him.  I believe what he says when he is uncomfortable with something.  I may push him a bit but I let him be who he is.  In so many ways I see myself in him.  These sensory issues he has, I struggled with them as a kid.  Even now I still have some problems.  Just on a much smaller scale than it is for him.  I know it is difficult for parents of special needs kids for different reasons.  This is just a piece of our difficulty.  And Sensory kiddos can have all kinds of extreme issues from food aversion to issues with textures of clothing.

I can admit that our likes and dislikes don’t always blend.  But we know how to work with each other.  This also is why it’s important to make sure that each of you have your own time to do the things you love.  We as parents put so much on the back burner. We feel like bad parents if we want to do something we love, that our kids don’t.  I’m here to tell you it’s okay.  You do not have to become your kids.  You just have to love them.  It is okay to live a separate identity from them.  And while I am writing this for others, this is a reminder to myself too.  It’s okay to be you and live a life you love.

My son is like land.  He is rigid, with roots down deep holding him firm.  Inconsistencies cause the land to wither, break apart, have to start anew.  I am like water.  Easily flowing from one experience to the next.  Crashing into new things with excitement.  But we both soften around the edges.  The water slows when it reaches the shore made from sands that have loosened its grip.  The land and water marinate in a spot that works.  We marinate.  And it works.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Special needs parents- it’s okay to mourn


Attention special needs parents! It’s time for you to mourn the loss of your traditional ideas of raising a child. How dare you?! How dare you say that? Mourn what? My child is a beautiful gift! And he/she is. I’m not saying otherwise. What I am saying is…it’s okay to mourn the life you wanted for your child before you knew about his/her special needs.

My son has sensory processing disorder. It means that with all the senses in our crazy world, his brain doesn’t know how to process them. He gets overly excited, can run around crazily or just start crying. He doesn’t know how to handle it and could not excel in his regular preschool class. He is in a special education class. This does not define him, it’s just what he needs to help him deal with everyday life.

So I understand. No matter what makes your child a little different, I’m here to tell you it’s okay to mourn. Maybe mourn is a bit extreme for you, but have a good cry. And you will probably feel much better when you do. I used to feel so guilty for thinking that. But I realized I don’t need to. It wasn’t that I wished for a different child. Keegan is amazingly sweet and smart and if he was nuero-typical he might not be. I love exactly who Keegan is. All of him. But I felt guilty for feeling sad. I felt sad for the things that are pretty much a given to typical kids, that I was no longer sure was going to be possible. Of course I was going to push and do everything possible to get him into all the things I was worried about. But I also don’t want to try to make him something he’s not.

You don’t realize all the things you worry about as a parent of a child limited physically or mentally, things that are normal to most children. Will they ever be mainstreamed in school? Will they be able to walk? Sports? College? Living on their own? Life without occupational therapy? Boyfriend/girlfriend? Kids? Marriage? Will they even want these things?

Mourn it out.  It’s not selfish. It’s actually selfless. To be worried about your children and to want more for them, is selfless. What will my child be able to do? Typical children at least get the opportunity to do everything that follows the “normal social path.” But the future of our kids is unknown. You should not feel bad for being sad about what your child might be missing out on. What I have learned though is that they don’t know what they are missing out on. Or they may know and feel like they aren’t missing out at all. We just don’t know.

I think that is the hardest part. Not knowing. The hardest struggle is being a “typical” person with a special needs child. Because you literally don’t know how to help. You don’t know how they feel, or what their concerns are. You don’t know if your pushing them is helping or hurting. It is a little upsetting when you realize that you have to have people that don’t even know your child, teach you how to help them. Like why can’t I figure out how to help him? You just don’t know all the answers. Accepting help from someone that is a professional doesn’t make you any less of a parent. Not knowing the answers doesn’t either. New things pop into my head all the time where I wonder “is Keegan even going to want to do that in the future?” For example, even today I wondered if throwing a big 5th birthday party is even a good idea. Is that something he can handle? All the people on top of the noise and overload of wherever we have it? Should I do something different? Nemo invited us to Halloweekends at Cedar Point, would Keegan even enjoy it? People popping out to scare us? I think not, but it’s always different with him.

Trust me guys, you aren’t the only ones that are 95% sure you are royally screwing your kids up. You aren’t the only ones that question all of your actions. And P.S….it’s okay to feel a little bad for yourself too. Shhh…I won’t tell. It is exhausting. You have to be the advocate for your child for a long time. For some people, it’s a lifetime.
But because of all these uncertainties every accomplishment is a huge win! You take a lot less for granted. Of course we are strong boisterous fans of our amazing kids! Just get that cry out and as Felipe (Bye Felipe!) from my job says….truck forward!

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net