Friday, February 22, 2008

My favorite Forward...

We were sitting at lunch one day when my daughter casually mentions that she and her husband are thinking of "starting a family. "

"We're taking a survey," she says half-joking. "Do you think I should have a baby?"

"It will change your life," I say, carefully keeping my tone neutral.

"I know," she says, "no more sleeping in on weekends, no more spontaneous vacations."

But that is not what I meant at all.

I look at my daughter, trying to decide what to tell her.

I want her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes.

I want to tell her that the physical wounds of child bearing will heal, but becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound so raw that she will forever be vulnerable.

I consider warning her that she will never again read a newspaper without asking, "What if that had been MY child?" That every plane crash, every house fire will haunt her.

That when she sees pictures of starving children, she will wonder if anything could be worse than watching your child die.

I look at her carefully manicured nails and stylish suit and think that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to the primitive level of a bear protecting her cub. That an urgent call of "Mom!"will cause her to drop a souffle or her best crystal without a moments hesitation.

I feel that I should warn her that no matter how many years she has invested in her career, she will be professionally derailed by motherhood. She might arrange for childcare, but one day she will be going into an important business meeting and she will think of her baby's sweet smell. She will have to use every ounce of discipline to keep from running home, just to make sure her baby is all right.

I want my daughter to know that every day decisions will no longer be routine.

That a five year old boy's desire to go to the men's room rather than the women's at McDonald's will become a major dilemma. That right there, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming children, issues of independence and gender identity will be weighed against the prospect that a child molester may be lurking in that restroom.

However decisive she may be at the office, she will second-guess herself constantly as a mother.

Looking at my attractive daughter, I want to assure her that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, but she will never feel the same about herself.

That her life, now so important, will be of less value to her once she has a child. That she would give herself up in a moment to save her offspring, but will also begin to hope for more years, not to accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her child accomplish theirs.

I want her to know that a cesarean scar or shiny stretch marks will become badges of honor.

My daughter's relationship with her husband will change, but not in the way she thinks.I wish she could understand how much more you can love a man who is careful to powder the baby or who never hesitates to play with his child.

I think she should know that she will fall in love with him again for reasons she would now find very unromantic.

I wish my daughter could sense the bond she will feel with women throughout history who have tried to stop war, prejudice and drunk driving.

I want to describe to my daughter the exhilaration of seeing your child learn to ride a bike. I want to capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog or cat for the first time. I want her to taste the joy that is so real it actually hurts.

My daughter's quizzical look makes me realize that tears have formed in my eyes.

"You'll never regret it," I finally say. Then I reached across the table, squeezed my daughter's hand and offered a silent prayer for her, and for me, and for all the mere mortal women who stumble their way into this most wonderful of callings.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Sweet Baby Ryan

Sweet Baby Ryan has always been his name. He was the quietest baby, so good and calm. Didn't make a peep unless it was for good reason. He stayed a baby for so long being that he didn't roll until 8 months (about 4 months late) or crawl until 13 months (about 7 months late) or walk until 18 months (about 6 months late). I feel like he's been a baby forever. With a limited vocabulary of about 6 non-distinguishable words, he's the complete opposite of Andrew at this age. I try not to compare them. Of course, like every other new mom of 2, I started out comparing them, but it became obvious pretty early on that they are not the same in any way.

So as Ryan grew and got bigger physically, it was easy to see that he was not growing developmentally. I was at home with him his first year, and I felt like I worked with him just as much as I did with Andrew. But it didn't take. I took him to the doctor on many occasions, just to check his muscle development. When he wasn't rolling, wasn't pulling up, wasn't sitting on his own. The whole time the ped told me he was fine, he was just a big boy and wasn't interested in those skills right now, not to worry... it will come. I called friends of mine who are OT's and PT's and they encouraged me to call Babies Can't Wait. I asked my pediatrician, he said he would recommend waiting. Around this time my marriage ended, my entire world changed. I went from a suburban stay at home mom and wife to a single working mom in less than 2 weeks. I was emotionally unable to process all these changes and so I pushed them to the side and thought that I would deal with them later. I focused on trying to stay strong and do what I could for my boys. Ryan and his development got pushed to the back of my to do list. If I would have listened to my friends, I would have gotten him help sooner, but I couldn't handle one more thing on top of everything else going on. Thus the beginning of "mom guilt".

Ryan is now 21 months. He is tall for his age and very very strong. He is very loving and his face lights up like a firecracker when he's happy. I started the Babies Can't Wait process about 2 months ago and he was just evaluated last week. Ryan qualifies for Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy for Fine Motor Skills. The therapists are claiming he probably has an Audio Sensory Disorder.. which his Ped finally agreed to. This is called Sensory Integration Disorder or something of that sort (the name of the disorder changed recently). Anyway, kids with SI cover many spectrums. They can be from one extreme to the other. Basically it's a problem with their central nervous system that causes their senses to be out of sync. Most people have heard of kids that won't walk on grass or won't taste different textures,etc because they are very sensitive to every feeling/taste/sound.... Ryan is the opposite. He needs more stimulation than average, needing to push, pull, bounce, stomp, grab, pinch, etc in order to feel. He craves resistance to his body, pressure on his skin, cramming his mouth with food in order to taste it, visually stimulating objects like light shows or bright cartoons, loud music and lots of movement.

So how do we deal with this, any why should we? Well first of all we should because this disorder would make it hard for him to learn fine motor skills. Fine motor skills require patience and gentleness. There isn't much gentle about Ryan. For him to learn to pet a dog without grabbing it, learn to hold a fork without stabbing something, learn to draw with a pencil without eating it... How do we help? I guess therapy, and patience, and lots of love. He's a brut, and will be one hell of a football player!