Saturday, April 16, 2011
It's so good to cry.
The girls' diagnosis hit us so hard. My husband and I are Type A personalities. We work hard. We play hard. We are exacting in our careers and take pride in doing a great job. We try to do the absolute best job possible in our respective fields. But suddenly, it seemed that we were cursed. Our daughters weren't thriving so I walked away from a career that defined me. I never realized how important my career was to my well being until I had to walk away.
I took all of my passion and poured it into my children. Every day I feed, changed, sang, tickled, read books. My children were going to be the overachievers. They would read at a young age. Walk, talk, paint, sing by 9 months! They would be the best at everything because I never stopped until I was the last one standing.
It was shattering to me that I could not help the girls' reach their milestones. I wasn't good enough. It was January 28th, 2010 and the Early Intervention officials were coming to our house to conduct meetings for the girls so that therapies would increase dramatically to support their needs now that they were labeled Autistic. The meetings began at 10 am. We worked straight through until 3:30, stopping only to feed a baby, change a diaper and bathroom breaks. We spoke in heartbreaking detail about each girl.
"She doesn't care that I'm here."
"She broke the wall because she rocks so hard."
"She retreats into herself and looks so sad."
Our goals for each child tore at my well being.
"Baby A will acknowledge her parents."
"Baby B will laugh appropriately."
"Baby C will produce spontaneous speech that is not echolalic."
I was a failure as a mother. My children needed 135 hours of therapy per week in total to function. I was overwhelmed by the turn our life was about to take. Six different people would be in our house from 7:45 am to 2:00. We had 30 minutes to feed the girls before they needed to get on the bus for their center-based therapy. They would get back to the house at 5:45. I wanted to weep that the girls needed one-to-one care for almost every moment that they were awake. Professionals were taking over for me.
I woke up early on February 1st, the first day of therapy, to get the girls' dressed on time. My husband helped make the bottles. He shook the first therapist's hand when he came to the door and left for work. He looked so sad to miss the girls' first day of school.
I was so overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work and paperwork that was involved with therapy. I hear a baby cry in one room and I rush in that direction to console. I hear the CEO throw a toy at the therapist in another room. The sound of hard plastic smashing into flesh made me wince. I should have mentioned that she does that. My son was rocking back and forth in his highchair and one of the therapists asked if he was also getting therapy. Huh? No time to process that, I continued moving. The CEO at this time was in full tantrum. She was slamming her head against the therapist's body. Punching and kicking with all her might, she was looking to injure her and I think she was getting close. I molded my body around her and started playing with the toys the therapist presented. She couldn't move anything other than her hands and my hands were over hers. My clothes were wet from exertion. It was only 9:45 and I wanted to scream. The only thought running through my head, "Oh God, please help me. I can't do this alone. Please help me."
The phone rang at 10:14. My husband was on the line. He lost his job. I started laughing hysterically and sobbing at the same time. I couldn't breathe. I didn't have a spare room to hide my reaction from these therapists. Every room was in use for therapy. "Come home. At least you'll get to see them go to school for the first time." I walked into the kitchen, shut the door and started punching the wall over and over and over. I didn't feel anything other than pain in my hands. Seven minutes later, I walked out and started working on the girls' paperwork again. I didn't have time to feel, I had to help my babies.
It took me a year and 2 months to cry again. I don't know if it was a defense mechanism that caused me to shut down or just sheer exhaustion but when I did it was shocking and a relief. I began to feel almost human again.