Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Autism For Dummies... Part One.

*When I started to write this post I didn't know it would get so wordy, so please accept my apologies in advance and I hope you don't mind that it has turned into two part post...

At 22 years of age I had a clear vision of what my life would be like. I would get married to an awesome guy and we would have awesome kids and an awesome life. Yes, I was naive to say the least, because at 22 you just don't think of anything really going wrong. And yes, you have some set backs in life but basically we looked forward to becoming parents (well I did), having nice home and a happy life.

Andrew and I didn't have kids till 5 years after we were married. It actually took me that long to convince him that he wouldn't suck at being a dad. My first pregnancy was a real surprise and sadly, I miscarried at 7 weeks. Andy could see how much I wanted kids and because he loved me he agreed we could try again. My pregnancy was... Lets just say being pregnant was not one of my favourite experiences. I was relieved that I actually got past the 7 week stage without loosing him and I loved feeling him move inside me, but that I am afraid, was about it. I hated that my body changed so much and I really just didn't feel myself. It was an awkward and not a enjoyable part of my life and it was nothing like I thought it would be. There was one thing I was sure about though, I was certain that we were having a boy. We never even looked at girls names and after what was literary a minute of looking in the book, Andy picked out Brandon and I picked James (for my dad). We had always loved the name Brandon and we also like the fact that we could shorten it to BJ if we wanted.

BJ was born on the 9th of February 1998 at 10.45pm, weighing 6lb 7oz after a 3 hour labor. He was 3 weeks early and beautiful. The first six week of his life was a battle. He didn't like to be breastfed, he didn't like to be cuddled very much at all and God forbid if you tried to swaddle him. I remember that time in a tired blur. I remember I was practically living with my mum and I remember that my marriage was on rocky ground for the first time ever. After 6 weeks of constantly battling with BJ and wondering if we had done the right thing in bringing this tiny little person into the world, my mum had had enough. She sat me down an said to me that BJ needed to feed and he was starving and that although I had done an amazing job of trying to breastfeed him it was time to try a bottle. I had been trying to put this off for as long as possible and in my head I kept thinking... This is not suppose to happen! I'm suppose to be able to breastfeed my own child right? Why can't I do it... Am I a bad mum? Hundreds of midwives can't be wrong can they? Still, I let Mum go out and buy formula and then make BJ a bottle. You cannot believe the relief I felt as BJ gulped down the formula and right then and there I decidedly put away all those guilty feelings that I had about breastfeeding and midwives. Sometimes your mum knows best. BJ and I slept for 14 hours straight after that first bottle and life as a new mum was better. I finally went home to my husband and after some heartfelt discussions about how we both had to change because we were parents now, we settled into a routine.


The first time I thought something was wrong with BJ wasn't that I really thought something was wrong, just that I thought I had an extremely stubborn child. At 8 months old he still wasn't trying to crawl he was just happy sitting and when he wanted something he just pointed. I would go to mothers group and watch all the other kids making leaps and bounds in their progress but my little boy just sat and didn't interact with the others. At 10 months BJ decided to crawl, stand up and walk all in the space of a week. I was overjoyed. Maybe there wasn't anything wrong after all and it was all in my head, maybe he was just a late bloomer? At his first birthday party, after nearly all the guest had left Andy and I sat with some friends of ours who had a daughter the same age. The daughter was saying all sorts of things to her mum and dad and interacting with her parents in a way that BJ never did with us and I couldn't help this nagging feeling begin to creep back in to my head and heart once more that something was just not right with our little man.

Around this time I fell pregnant with Cameron. I must admit that I was enjoying this pregnancy much more than my first and that nagging feeling? Well, I just put in the back of my mind and only thought about it every now and again when BJ did something that was... Not quite right. BJ was a very energetic child. Ever seen that EverReady battery bunny? Well, he has nothing on my kid! BJ would climb everything. He loved been up high and if I didn't keep an eye on him he would be out the front door and off down the street in a flash. He had also started to walk a lot on his toes and flap his arms by now, but Andy and I just thought that it was really cute. So at 8 months pregnant I was running around after this little boy that was so full of energy and who kept me on the go from sunrise to sunset, life was very interesting to say the least. Cameron Scott was born on the 6th of September 1999. He was 2 weeks early and after 2 false alarms arrived in half an hour of my waters breaking and no... There was no time for drugs! Cameron was everything his brother wasn't. He breastfed easily, he loved cuddles, slept well and was a calm, be it very chubby, beautiful baby.

It was at this point I started to think that I might start putting BJ in occasional care at the local Kindergarten. It was for only half a day and it might make going shopping at the supermarket with only one little boy a bit easier. Gerry, the Kindy co-ordinator, was happy to take him even after I told her what a handful my little cherub could be. That first day I dropped him off feeling a little uneasy about leaving him in someone else's care but he ran off and started to climb without saying anything and Gerry assured me he would be fine. That afternoon, I went to pick BJ up and Gerry greeted me with a look of dread and anticipation on her face. I thought to myself that she was going to say he was too much of a handful and I had to take him somewhere else, but she kindly guided me into her office and asked me to take a seat. Here we go, I thought, but instead she said...  "Donna, we think that Brandon (she never called him BJ) might have Autism" "Oh...Ok" I said, somewhat confused.... "What's that?"



Anonymous said...

He's Beautiful.
And you are a fantastic momma!
xx oo

Michelle said...

I like all the words, Donna! I'm glad you didn't go for the short version. ;-) What a beautiful story so far. I can't wait to read the rest. You've left me hanging in anticipation!

Leigh Ann Baird said...

I'm also hanging with anticipation and looking forward to reading the rest of your story. I have heard of Autism but really am ignorant of what it really means.

Tanja said...

Hi Donna, Thanks for sharing your story, our youngest son has dyslexia and Asperger's, so I can relate to some of you feelings. Keep up the good work with your family and your blog!
Greetings from the Riverland SA