My unique son
Unique and Gifted and very much Wanted
I had tried to conceive for years. I am one of those women that feel like a big breast walking down the street; put here to parent, console children and teach them. I wanted so very much to have a child and for four years, I tried. Sex wasn't for pleasure, rather a chore that involved monitoring my menstrual cycle, my temperature and so forth. Just when I gave up and realized that maybe the Almighty's plan didn't include having me mother a child, I became pregnant. I was elated!
My pregnancy was a very difficult one. I did not know at the time that I had a blood disorder (Factor V Leiden) and that I should have been giving myself shots daily. This was in 1994 when people really didn't screen for things like that. I immediately became a blimp because of water retention and developed pre-eclampsia and hypertension within the first few months of pregnancy. My little one was very active within and even though I went through nine months of vomitting and visits to a cardiologist to monitor my symptoms, his little world within stayed safe and secure.
The doctors chose to induce me two weeks early because of fear that I would have a stroke. My son decided that he didn't want to be born so soon. Admitted into the hospital on Friday at 4:00 PM, I was given labor inducing drugs that I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy and experienced trauma to my system as I've never known. On Saturday evening, I was begging for a C-section and was denied. The doctors chose to break my water to move things along. Not realizing how much water I had retained, I quickly flooded a 12x12 square foot area and continued to leak throughout the night. Still, my son chose to stay in the womb. On Sunday, I was sleep deprived and begging for pain medication. I saw nothing natural about giving birth while laying on a table screaming like a slaughtered pig. I couldn't imagine that this process wasn't somehow harming my son either. I was told that I would be given an epidural. The person that gave it to me had an 85% positive rating. I fell within the 15% of failure. My arms and legs were frozen but I could feel every amount of pain radiating from my abdominal area. I then knew why women screamed so much during pregnancy. Pain. Lots of it.
On Sunday night, I was crying and a stupid nurse had the audacity to tell me that I was feeling phantom pains. I used words I didn't realize I knew and told her if my arms and legs weren't frozen, I'd jump off the table and kill her right then and there. She left the area and never returned.
My mom came up on Monday morning around 8:00 AM. The epidural wore off and I was still not beyond 3 centimeters since Friday and all of that medication. Maybe having her there did something because within an hour of her arrival, I hit 10 centimeters and she ran down the hall screaming like Shirley MacLaine did for Debra Winger's character. She demanded the doctor and the nurses get into the room immediately. She stayed by me. My son had so much hair on his head, they couldn't get him out easily. He had turned over since Friday and was face up in the canal. They tried turning him and forceps; nothing. They tried the cone head inducing vacuum and it wouldn't stick on his hair. When the doctor told me they were considering a C-section, I gave him a look that made him turn white and he continued to try to use the vacuum. The 11th attempt worked and my 8.5 pound son was born!
He was completely dry because of my water being broken two days prior. He looked like a little Eskimo baby; chunky, with loads of black hair and a bit dark complected. He was beautiful and he looked right up into my face and stared in my eyes. We bonded at that very moment.
He couldn't suck because he was tongue tied and so the little guy had to have bottles with larger nipples. The pediatrician at the time refused to clip his tongue (I had it done when he turned 3). He also looked like he had jaundice to me but I was told I was an over reactive first time parent.
We went home the next day and my little guy and I were inseparable. He had a certain sense about him that I couldn't explain. He looked months older than he was and had such a "knowing" look about him. He knew my voice and my face and wanted no one but his mamma to hold him.
He did have jaundice; a level that was toxic. I spent his 4th day alive putting him in the hospital and staying by his side day in and day out for a week in the hospital. I took him out of the incubator every hour to hold him and kiss him and give him a bottle. When he was cleared of jaundice, we went home and I didn't have a great feeling about hospitals anymore.
As my son grew, I noticed little things about him. Tactile sensory issues. He would really react to grass, sand, water and so forth until he got used to them. More of a reaction than I had seen in other children his age. He also spoke very early. His first word at 2 months was elephant (he said e phunt) and followed by mom. I talked non-stop to him and maybe that encouraged speech; however, he was speaking in complete sentences by the time he was one year old. He had delayed motor skills however and didn't walk until he was 15 months old. He had to sit pin straight since birth and hated to be swaddled. He was sitting up at 3 months but didn't crawl until he was around 7 months old.
In his toddler years, he was fascinated with electrical things. Every children's book we read he would point out the outlets on each page. He would take extension cords and hook them together and "plug" them into the beds and down the stairs and then into the couch to create a power plant for our house to "run" on. He didn't interact a lot with other children, rather used any cord or rope to make something electrical that we could use for power. He spoke like a little adult and learned to read by reading labels on appliances and reading store logos and billboards advertising items, so by three years old, he was reading at a first grade level.
He knew how to count to 1000, knew his colors and how mummies were mummified, yet he struggled with tactile things still, had poor coordination and would prefer to do things alone rather than compromise with someone else. He was my little genius but in all of my attempts to get him to cling to having a friend, he preferred the company of adults more.
I began to realize as he grew older, that there were some similar characteristics he shared with some of my autistic students. He didn't have the severe behaviors, yet some of the more subtle ones. I still wasn't sure. I knew he wasn't autistic but yet, I couldn't put my finger on why his behaviors kept drawing me toward that diagnosis.
In 3rd grade, he was diagnosed as having Asperger's Syndrome which is on the long spectrum of autism. In schools, students are given the AI label to receive services. My son tests with an IQ over 160 and has not needed any special classes. However, he has needed counseling since he was a toddler to help him tackle the social or the lack of social abilities involved with Asperger's syndrome.
Asperger's, if you don't know of it, is a social disorder that has some of the children that have it, exhibiting some of the same behaviors as children with autism. It is not autism but since there are some similarities, schools recognize it as being on the autistic spectrum and children with Asperger's are given support with social situations; such as counseling and extra support when dealing with change and some modifications in their school setting. Children who have asperger's typically are very bright; many genius in intelligence. Think Einstein, Bill Gates and how they stood out to others but no one could quite put a finger on what it was that made them so unique. People with Asperger's also have some type of obsession. That is, they are transfixed on something to the point of ad nauseum and will know just about anything there is to know about the subject. They also spout facts about topics and find it difficult to engage in a normal conversation. In the beginning, they often find it difficult to maintain eye contact with others, notice social cues or emotions in others. If children are worked with, these things can be overcome.
My son is truly a gem and an angel sent to me. He is 14 now and has turned out to be such a dynamic person. He loves technology and is a self proclaimed geek! He is definitely talented in the area and aspires to be the next computer icon along with Gates and Jobs. I believe he will accomplish this with his perseverance. He is articulate and well-versed. He is a good student. He has friends that accept him for who he is. He reads at college level and speaks like an adult. He still spews facts but simple reminders from me that his Asperger's is showing helps him realize that he is going off on a tangent. We are honest and open about his syndrome and I embrace him for his individuality. I also try to guide him to conform in ways that will make him be accepted by a larger social group. I am so proud of my son's accomplishments and I can't wait to see what he will continue to amaze me with.
He is a typical teenager in many ways. Wants to sleep the day away and stay up all night. Loves his computer, Wii and video games. He is also a very good looking, young man. However, he has a drive that I don't see in many youths; he has known that he wants to attend MIT since he was in 6th grade and has aspired academically since then to make sure his grades are top notch. He also sees both sides of an argument and can be spoken to logically; making discussion interesting. He has the youthfulness that brings fresh ideas that seem off the wall to his aging mother, but on the other hand, he is so supportive of other's ideas as well. He is all about equality and fairness and is such a neat person to be around.
I am in awe of my son and how he has grown into a young man, aware of his disability but not letting it get in the way of his aspirations. When scientists recently proclaimed that they may have found a cure for Autism and Asperger's; he said he didn't want a part of it because it would take away his identity; his uniqueness. He summed up my feelings for him on his own.
Anyone with a child that has a special need about them can understand how I feel. We have all cried behind closed doors over the cruelty inflicted upon our children and our helplessness over stopping it. We have watched with crossed fingers and heavy hearts as we have pushed our kids to be independent and have allowed them to make their own mistakes and find ways to solve their own problems. Every parent does this. The parent of a child that is unique however, finds it even more difficult. I wouldn't trade the past 14 years for anything and I pray that both my son and I can continue to look our futures directly in the eye and realize that there isn't anything that can't be accomplished if you have love, family and a vision.