Wednesday, October 31, 2007

October 31, 2007

The first year of Jakob's life is pretty much a blur. All I can really remember is how I felt. I was a mess, a complete mess.

I didn't know what to do with him. He cried and screamed so much. He didn't like to be held. Every time I picked him up, he pushed away. I thought for sure that I was just a terrible mother and my kid hated me. I was afraid that he didn't even know me and I carried all the guilt for that because I was working. I was never there when he got up in the morning and when I was home, I was so tired. I never had any energy. I was physically and mentally exhausted.

I can remember crying spells that no matter what I did, he just kept crying. My girlfriends would come over and they could get him to stop, at least for a little while. And since they could get him to stop, I figured they had mothering skills that I obviously did not. I was convinced that I sucked.

Same went for work. I sucked there too. It seemed like I never did anything right. At every turn, no matter what I did or said, it felt wrong and like I was letting everybody down. The guilt while at work was overwhelming. I felt like I needed to be home with my baby who was more often than not, so unhappy.

When I was home, Jakob's dad and I fought constantly. It was anger like I'd never felt before. There was nothing funny at home...absolutely nothing to laugh about. Sleep deprivation, a screaming baby, a screaming husband and a house that looked like it had been hit by a tsunami. All that in addition to the work situation led me to medication. I didn't know what else to try and the anxiety was too much. I could feel my pulse race, my shoulders were in my ears and all I wanted to do was cry. But I couldn't break down. I was the Mom and the breadwinner, I had to try to keep it together.

I do remember Jakob's first birthday party pretty clearly. It was just a few weeks before we moved to Cincinnati. We had close to 30 people coming and I was nervous. I knew how Jakob reacted to a lot of wasn't pretty. We had taken him to a few restaurants and it never went well. He would scream and scream until we left. He'd pretty much scream whenever we took him anywhere. So my plan was to put him in his highchair and leave him least for awhile. I remember how mad some of our friends were when I asked them not to pick him up. They were so offended but I didn't know what elso to do and I certainly had no explanation for why Jakob was the way he was.

I had never felt more out of control. I went from a girl who had a pretty good grip on life to the Tazmanian Devil. I was being pulled in 20 different directions all at the same time and had no clue what to do or try next. Constant chaos. My head was always spinning. It was an awful rollercoaster ride and I saw no way to get off. For the first time ever, I didn't have any answers.

But in the back of my mind, I knew it was Autism.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

October 30, 2007...I knew

I think I knew the diagnosis was coming even before Jakob was born.

I had a pretty rough pregnancy. It was a pregnancy that I was told would probably never happen. From the age of 16, I'd been told that I would have a tough time getting pregnant in the first place. Once in my 20's, I was told that even if I was able to conceive, the pregnancy would be high risk.

I had just started a new job...a morning show. The hours were horrible. I was getting up at 2:30am which is what time I used to go to bed. I was having a hard time getting adjusted and I just wasn't feeling right.

It was Superbowl weekend and the game was being played in Tampa, where I lived at the time. I was getting ready to go to a big party and have more than my share of beers. But something told me that drinking a lot wasn't a good idea and maybe, I should take a pregancy test. I did...I took 2 to be sure. I was in shock and terrified. I didn't expect it and I wasn't ready for it. I cried...a lot and then I got in my car and went to the party.

The last thing I wanted to do was tell anyone at work. I was only 2 weeks into the job and knew there was a good chance that I would, at some point, have to go on bedrest. I knew no one was going to be happy about it. I was a nervous wreck.

I also knew that my marriage was in trouble and having a child was just going to make it worse. I knew it and I knew something about the pregnancy wasn't right. Fot the first time in my life, I was experiencing pure panic.

One of my biggest fears before getting pregnant was that there would be something wrong with my baby. I never feared the most common abnormalities...Down's Syndrome or CP. I feared Autism. I wrote it off to the fact that I'd had 2 bosses have sons who were diagnosed with Autism. Since that was the one that I'd had some direct contact with, that was the one that was in the forefront of my mind.

When I found out I was pregnant, I was 5 weeks along. At 15 weeks, I was admitted to the hospital for emergency surgery and put on immediate and full bedrest. I was only allowed out of bed to go to the bathroom or take a shower. For the next 6 months, the only time I left the house was to go to the OB/GYN or to the hospital. I was hospitalized 3 more times for a variety of issues before Jakob was finally born.

The station put some broadcast equipment in my home so I could remain on the air but it was weird. I never really felt like I was a part of the show and my pregnancy was never discussed. Very rarely did we even mention that I was at home, on bedrest trying to save my baby. I don't know what else to call it other than weird....disconnected, I guess.

In the first couple of months of bedrest, friends came over pretty regularly to visit but that slowed down after awhile. I'm sure I wasn't a barrell of laughs and they had places to go and things to things.

I watched a lot of tv and ate. I ate a lot...full meals every 2 hours which would explain the 80-pound weight gain. My friends snuck me Hershey bars with almonds that I hid in the drawer next to the bed. Those Hershey bars were probably my best friends.

I was nervous, scared, anxious, sad, stir-crazy, horrified and fat. Those emotions were all pretty much new territory for me and for the first time in my life, I couldn't find much to laugh about. It was rough.

And as I would lay there, on my left side with my head slightly elevated to control the acid reflux, in the back of my mind, I was thinking Autism. As I rubbed my belly and kept saying "I love you", I was thinking Autism. As I cried over the loneliness and the fear, I was thinking Autism.

Monday, October 29, 2007

October 29, it was

There was a time when I was pretty calm, cool and collected.

I didn't get mad, I handled problems by simply finding solutions. I just knew that for every problem, there was a solution and I used all my energy looking for it. No dwelling on the issue. The solutions always seemed to come quickly and easily.

I didn't get rattled. I'd see people around me getting all riled up and I'd be finding a way to laugh about the situation. I knew there was healing in the laughter. And I also knew that answers wouldn't come as long as we were bitching about the problem. The more we bitched, the more power we gave the problem and the bigger it would get. Plus it just never felt good to be upset. It wasn't fun and I was all about fun.

I'm sure there were moments when I experienced some negative emotions but it didn't last long. Mild frustrations and irritations were unavoidable but like I said, I'd find something funny in the situation and before I knew it, a rational thought came along followed shortly by a solution.

Overall, I was a pretty darn peaceful and happy person. I lit candles and listened to Enya. I fell asleep watching Letterman with my adorable cocker spaniel, Miller by my side. The two cats, Bud and Weiser were always close by.

I had an issue or two (primarily an inability to manage money and choosing men that weren't right for me) but other than that, life was pretty simple and easy.

I had a lot of fun and I did a lot of exciting and interesting things. I always had good stories to tell about my adventures.

I had no fear and I experienced a lot of joy. I smiled and laughed a lot. In fact, I was pretty much always smiling and laughing.

I had no complaints and I felt good, physically and mentally. I was skinny and loved doing my hair and make-up. Every 3 weeks, I went to the spa to get my hair and nails done as well as a massage and a facial. I had a standing appointment and it was lovely.

I would never go out in public in my pajamas. I had a closet full of trendy clothes and shoes (over 200 pair at one time). No matter how full my closet was, I could always make room for more (this is where managing money became an issue...I had pretty expensive taste and I felt that I had a certain image to uphold).

I had great friends that I spent a lot of time with. We went to clubs, concerts and football games and we loved road trips. We'd try anything once and somewhere I have the pictures to prove it.

The job was a riot and it was easy.

I had a good time no matter where I was or who I was with. I was comfortable in my own skin and never felt out of place or insecure. I enjoyed everybody, I could carry on a conversation with anybody, anywhere and sincerely enjoy every second of it. I didn't get offended or annoyed.

I occasionally still have dreams about my old bachelorrette pad with the lacquer furninture. It was cool. Honestly, I was pretty cool. And I had a cool car...a white Toyota Celica rocked.

Change is unavoidable, it's a part of life. And dependant on how you view change, it can be excrutiating or exhilirating. There are major life events that cause major change and most people know exactly what they're getting into when they choose major life events like marriage or children. I thought I knew...but, I hadn't a clue.

The end result for me was the disappearance of the girl described above. She probably would have survived in some capacity had it not been for the diagnosis. But it was the diagnosis that changed everything.

(Check back tomorrow...)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

October 28, 2007

So sorry that it's been so long! I've been very busy and so has Jakob. He's doing just great! Such a sweet kid and so darn cute...always.

His birthday party was a success. Tons of kids and lots of water. The waterslide was by far the most popular toy of the summer. He played on it every day. The water bill was a little high but worth every penny. The smile on his face every second he was in the thing was priceless.

It's still so hard to believe that he's 6. He's getting so tall and he's about to lose his second tooth. He definitely doesn't look like a baby anymore. Sometimes it hurts.

School has been going well. He seems to have adjusted to going all day but it was a little rough at first. The look on his face when I picked him up told me that he was wiped out. He still comes home a little tired but within a half an hour, he's ready to go. It's a high-energy party until 9:00 when I give him his Melatonin...then within about 45 minutes, he's my bed and kicking me on and off throughout the night. The sleeping arrangement is pretty comical. I have a king-size bed and he sleeps right in the middle of it. I curl up on my side with one leg hanging off the edge. Uncomfortable but cozy.

We went back to the DAN doctor and he's back on supplements and an anti-fungal. We've definitely seen an increase in his vocalizations, he's trying so hard to talk. It will come, I just know it will. In the meantime, he's using the heck out of his Dynavox. He manipulates that thing like nobody's business. He asks for food and toys...lately, he's been asking for the computer. So needless to say, I'm falling behind on e-mails. I've lost my computer to a kid who's addicted to I'm not sure what to do about this one. I mean, there are benefits to him learning how to use it, but what I really want him to do is connect with people and work on speech...there ain't much of that going on when he's plopped in front of dancing letters. There's not much I can do to compete with that. So, I haven't quite figured out what to do...but I will.

I have his Halloween costume ready to go...the Cat in the Hat. And for an added bonus, Aunt Sandy and I have Thing 1 and Thing 2 should be a treat. Speaking of which, I haven't gotten treats to pass out yet. I'm sure we'll do full-size candy bars of some type and some kind of little toy. I always do something other than candy since so many kids can't have candy. That would suck...going house to house and getting a bunch of candy you can't eat. If Jakob ever decides to go house to house, I hope there will be something he can get that he'd be excited a computer of his own.

I've made a promise to myself to write something every day. I intend on keeping that promise. I have so much to write I said, I've been very busy. Instead of writing, I've been reading...a lot. Book after book after book about the meaning of life, Autism and faith. I've learned a lot and I've found the answers to questions that I've been asking for a long time. I've found the answers for Jakob and me...I look forward to sharing them.

Check back tomorrow...