I have decided to revamp this blog and use it as my personal message to the world about the good and bad of every day life. We all have struggles, but we hardly allow others into the truth about those struggles. Today I will be addressing the issue of life with my 4 year old. But first, let me start at the beginning.
There were no issues with my pregnancy with Amos. The usual morning sickness, lots of weight gain, and he moved like crazy. The only abnormality was that I had extra amniotic fluid, which was not discovered until about three days before my water broke and Amos was forced into the world. My labor was spontaneous and I had to be induced because of my lack of contractions. The whole ordeal of labor and delivery was a new experience for me as a new mother and it was terrifying. Being induced, strapped to a bed, and being told that I was not progressing in dilation were NOT issues I expected when I thought about L&D. However, he came into this world, a beautiful and healthy, yet bruised baby boy. After leaving the hospital after three days, we spent one night in our own home before he was admitted into the hospital again for jaundice. We spent an additional three days in the hospital, while our son got the tan of a lifetime (sarcasm).
After that, hubby returned to working nights and I was left to care for Amos. First time mother with a baby with latch issues and constantly wanting to be held. But we pushed through! Seven weeks later, I had to return to full-time work, as well as caring for Amos at night while my husband was at work. Let me just say, sleep became a luxury until I learned the proper way of co-sleeping. LIFE SAVER!
The years went quickly. He hit all of his developmental milestones either early or right on time. Walking by one, fully talking by a year and a half. By age two, he could recognize all of his letters and 1-9. He was (and still is) super smart and curious. He had energy for days, and his tantrums made me cringe. I assumed that his tantrums, energy, and lack of fine motor skills were part of being young and would change with work and time.
Skip ahead to age three and he is still a ball of energy and tantrums. Again, just natural age related issues. Mama starts attending college and becomes pregnant with a little brother. Baby brother is born about two months before Amos’ 4th birthday. Amos started to develop more anxiety, much of it due to Elliot’s (baby brother) eight day stay in the hospital. I had never been more than a day away from Amos and he was clearly having some separation anxiety. He would act out in the hospital when he came to visit and wanted nothing to do with his brother. He would tell me that he missed me, but wanted nothing to do with me once he saw me. It was an extremely difficult and stressful eight days.
Amos’ behavior at home did not get any better once we were all home. He was demanding of more of my time, but I could not give him all of the attention that he wanted. He went as far as trying to hit me once while I was holding his brother (almost hitting his brother), when he couldn’t get his way.
After his fourth birthday, it was time to get him enrolled and assessed for Pre-K. My baby boy was going to attend school! I was both saddened and excited at the same time. Now other people would see how brilliant this small human was and I could not wait. However, during his assessment, we were pulled into an extra room because of his impulsiveness and fidgeting. Further assessments would be needed to test for ADHD and any other issues. Upon further testing, it was determined that he had aggressive tendencies, needed occupational therapy to help with his fine motor skills (he held utensils with a bear grip), and was high on the chart for ADHD. Hubby and I disagreed about the diagnosis. I still believe that ALL four year olds are energetic and fidget. However, I did see the same problems that all of the “professionals” were seeing. We accepted the diagnosis and enrolled him into Pre-K with an independent educational plan (IEP). He would have an ed-tech, see OT twice a week, and there were tools that his teachers would implement to help him.
After the FIRST day, I started to get phone calls about screaming, hitting, kicking, etc. These were behaviors of his that I knew all too well at home, but had rarely seen him display outside of the home. Another IEP meeting was set up and another IEP was put into action. More assessments and a full-time ed-tech was added to be with him at ALL times. Skip ahead to today and things are getting “better”. He still has emotional outbursts. Sometimes he tries to hit/kick me. He SCREECHES like a freaking banshee sometimes when he doesn’t get his way. And we are trying to get him into a State funded program to help with behaviors. This whole process has been energy consuming and, at times, soul-sucking. I broke down in front of friends and co-workers just yesterday because it is difficult. I watched my baby boy get on the bus. He has to sit in his seat with a weighted lap “band” to keep him from getting up and being unsafe. How many 4 year olds do you know have to deal with that? To him, this is normal. To me, it is: embarrassing, heartbreaking, and discouraging.
I am almost constantly on the phone with his school, CDS, DHS, etc. trying to get plans into action that will work for him. So far, progress. However, how long will this progress work? Next year will be a new year of challenges. His teachers are constantly commenting on how smart he is, but we just need to get the behavioral aspect under control.
I worry. I constantly worry. There are days when I don’t think my antidepressants even TOUCH my brain because it is so bombarded by worry. How long can I keep going before I am completely burnt out? And how will this affect Elliot? Will he, too, have ADHD? Most professionals do not know if it is genetic, but they believe that it may be. And will Amos finally get to a point where he can function normally? Note: I do not medicate my son and refuse to have him drugged up to make other peoples’ lives easier.
As a friend of mine who cares for her grandson with ADHD and massive behavioral problems said recently, “When people ask if he is better, I just want to tell them that, while he is doing better, this is not an illness that you can cure. He won’t magically wake up one day and not have ADHD. There are good days and bad days. He will live with this the rest of his life, as will we. There is no cure-all pill to fix him. He is what he is.”
This is my life. I am a mother to two amazing boys. One currently has more challenges than the other, but he is no less amazing. There are good days. There are bad days. He is what he is and I try my best to help him. Welcome to my life and my journey.