Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The things people say

There was a time in our lives that we thought things could not be better. The day after my youngest daughter's seventh birthday we were blessed with a bouncing baby boy. Two beautiful, wonderful girls and a beautiful boy, our family was complete. My young mothers in training were in awe of him and I in them. They were so gentle and caring.

Blissfulness and glee came to a screeching halt just three short weeks later when their perfectly healthy brother left us for no reason. Our family and friends rallied around us, but they said things that I think must be ingrained in human DNA. Things that force their way from our mouths when we don't know what else to say.

"God doesn't put anymore on us than we can handle"
"You can always have another one"
"You didn't have your tubes tied did you?"
"He is in a better place"
The grand prize goes to my cousin "Hey, wassup?"

I may sound like an ungrateful person that these things irked me so. I do know they were meant to be words of support, caring, and love and I genuinely appreciated the gestures. But surely you can see the flaw in all the statements when said to a bereaved Mother.

Three years later in an attempt to fill my aching arms, we had another bouncy baby boy and though it was a very happy time it was also a very nerve racking one. It was bliss like before but laced (or laden) with fear. Poor thing was not left alone for a minute without someone checking that he was still breathing.

We got past the three week mark and the fear started to ease a bit, a microscopic bit. I started noticing as he got older that he was not like the other babies I had raised. He would not make eye contact with me while breastfeeding. He would look at me while I talked or sang to him but only if I put him in his carrier. He would not sleep laying flat on his back in his crib. He had to be wrapped tight and place at an incline in his carrier well past the swaddling stage. Vacuums scared him terribly and I think it was the main motivation in becoming mobile. When he got to a point where he could sit in a highchair he started to laugh hysterically for no known reason.

Even though babbling and some words cropped up they were lost soon after and I struggled to find out why I couldn't get this boy to talk. I let denial that anything was wrong keep me from really questioning the pediatrician that told me "Each kid is different, he will start talking in his own time." Or the dentist's wife "His sisters talk for him right now. He will talk when he needs to."

He was two by the time we started getting any services and four months from his third birthday he was diagnosed with Autism. Not many of our family members or friends rallied to our sides this time. My Mother, his father, and my sister were about it. Maybe it's because I could tell by the looks on some of their smug faces at family gatherings, that they thought my son was a brat and I had let him go wild. Maybe because they don't understand what Autism is. Maybe they just don't know what to say.


mcewen said...

I think I am familiar with all of those phrases. It is tough, but on the whole I think I prefer the 'say something even if it's the wrong thing' to the stunned silence option. There again.......
Best wishes

dgibbs said...

Yes on a whole I would prefer it as well. It was a point I wanted to get around to but didn't. Goodness knows the right words to say often don't find there way to my lips.

Suzy said...

First of all, my sincere condolences on the loss of your son.

People are strange at times of loss- other's loss- maybe it gets too close for them and their own fears kick in.

I love hearing stories about Connor- what a great little kid...
Thank you for sharing,