I don’t normally write about things that are personal but… today is different. Today is the day that I’ve been waiting for — for almost four years. Today I got some answers to some of my questions — in regards to my beautiful and spirited son. Today I hope that another parent doesn’t have to feel alone or helpless.
It has been a long time coming.
From the moment he was born, my second child has been a handful. I know what you’re thinking, most children are a handful however, there has always been something different about this one. The bad days started to override the good days shortly before he turned two and right before I delivered my third child. It was when my third son was just weeks old that I marched my toddler into the doctors office, handed him to the doctor and cried, “what is wrong with my son?”.
His high-pitch screaming fits gave me extreme migraines every single night and his personality was extremely hard to decipher. Add in a hormonal and tired mom of a newborn and it’s a recipe for a disaster. And it was just that… a disaster. He would scream when he was tired, sad, mad, happy, frustrated, bored… there simply was no rhyme or reason, which only made it harder for me to handle. We searched online and found parents praising the gods (and everything else that you can praise) just knowing that they weren’t alone. It wasn’t a ‘hot topic’ by any means but there were a few stories out there. For me, it felt good knowing I wasn’t alone, too.
The looks I would get — from friends, family and complete strangers — were embarrassing and to be honest, quite shocking. I endured negative comments and lost friends over it all. No one can remotely understand what it’s like until you are in it, until you feel like you’re drowning because you don’t know how to help your child. We took advice from multiple doctors — some of it worked, most of it didn’t — and eventually he seemed to grow out of the screaming. The most important things we were told, and agreed 100% with, was to ‘nip it’ before his baby brother picked up on it and to basically pick our battles. Realize that it is okay to say no to playdate invites on a ‘bad day’ — in order to spare my child and myself from the difficult times — and to always be prepared to pick up and leave someplace, any place, at a moments notice. This was hard on everyone involved, not just my son and me.
Just as we would say we needed to talk to someone, he would change and improve. We weren’t blind to his difficulties — trust me, we have spend countless hours working with teachers, doctors and seeking advice — but those weeks and months when he showed improvements, they gave us great hope that he would magically grow out of it… whatever “it” was. Our biggest fear was that we didn’t want our son to be labeled for the sake of, well, being labeled. We wanted someone to look at his every strength and weakness and really advocate for him — just as we had been and were prepared to continue doing. It took changing pediatricians to finally give me the feeling and courage that I could start the process.
During my third son’s well check a few weeks ago, I brought up some not-so-great habits that he was learning from his older brother, which lead to a totally separate discussion. The one I had been longing for. Just minutes into our talk, I realized we were finally getting somewhere and with a doctor I completely trusted and felt safe with. The following week I brought my second son in to see the same doctor and multiple light switches started flipping on. “He has a sensory integration issue”, said the doctor and with those six words I felt a huge amount of relief come over me. Finally someone was giving us a path to embark on and not just making excuses for his age, birth order, gender or telling us that it is just a ‘phase’ that he is going through. We walked out of the doctors’ office and I immediately called Occupational Therapy for a formal evaluation.
Today was the evaluation and while it was difficult, I feel even more relief knowing that we can and will help him.