Updated: Mar 28, 2020
Hi, I’m Natasha. I’m wife to Peter and mum to Maddie, Louis and Archie and mum to one fur baby Basko. Maddie is neuro typical, Louis has an ADHD diagnosis and Archie has an Autism diagnosis.
I would love to take you all through my journey with my boys. I know there are many of you out there who are either just going through the diagnosis process or have been through it and are working your way out the other side. I know those feelings of fear, not understanding, the ‘why me’ the grief for the life you thought your child might have, the fear of how it will look as well as all the appointments you have to attend and the complete overwhelm that you might feel.
If there is something in my story that is able to help you, then I’m grateful for that.
As Louis is 12, there’s a lot of years to work through so I’ll break it down into a series of blogs for you.
Just over 12 years ago my little ginger boy was born. Did he come out normally? No! That would have been too easy for him, he was a bottom first delivery! And 5 weeks early too the precious one!! Interestingly my grandfather passed 2 days before Louis’ due date, so I firmly believe that he came early so my grandpa got to see the first boy in the family in 3 generations.
I had a beautiful pregnancy. Maddie was so excited for her baby brother to arrive and wasn’t in the least bit worried or jealous about this new person coming into her world. She was just ready to play with a new baby and give him lots of love and cuddles.
At 10 am on a bright sunny July morning I’m merrily running the hoover round when I felt my waters go. At the time Pete worked nights so he was upstairs asleep. I quickly went to the toilet and asked Maddie to go upstairs and get daddy, and tell him that mummy’s waters had gone. There was no pain or anything and after speaking to the midwife who thought my back waters had gone (who knew we had 2? I didn’t!) She asked me to come up to the hospital. As I thought it was just a check-up I didn’t take any of my stuff with me, I left Maddie with Pete and went to the hospital. They scanned me and checked me and yes, I was in full labour and a silent one too (again who knew there was such a thing) I was having no pain at this point at all. I phoned Pete to tell him what was going on so he had my sister come and look after Maddie and came to the hospital. They wanted me to have a C section by this point as they now knew that Louis was breach and that I had no waters in which in turn him. I declined! I just thought well I’ve done this before, surly it can’t be any worse bottom first or head first!
The delivery itself was a little stressful for me as you aren’t allowed to push until you are fully dilated otherwise the cervix closes around the babies neck and can strangle them. So straight away I had to go against my body, and for the mums out there, you know when you want to push you want to push. It’s all you can focus on and you have no choice but to go with it, so for me to fight it was hard. Luckily it was only 3 contractions I had to fight, and then he delivered very quickly. Pete then went and did what a lot of daddies do and get on the phone to tell everyone of Louis’ arrival. Bless Pete he came back up to me being rushed to theatre. I apparently like to withhold my placenta and bleed out. I was sitting up in bed, cuddling my new born baby boy and all of a sudden I said to the midwife, “Can you take him for me?” and passed out. So Louis got lots of daddy cuddles whilst they were fixing me but it was a good couple of hours before I could hold him again.
Then I couldn’t feed him because of the general anaesthetic, so they were cup feeding him so he didn’t get used to the bottle and so that allowed me to feed him. The midwives were great and more than happy to cuddle him for me whilst I slept the GA off. The next morning we were up on the normal ward with everyone else, and they took him to go and do the heal prick test for the vitamin K injection. Well from my bed whilst cuddling Maddie, I could hear him screaming all the way down the other end of the ward in a separate room whilst they were trying to get the blood from him. I sat there for a minute or two with my little Moo but in the end I couldn’t take it anymore, scooped her up and marched down the ward into the room and scooped him up in the other arm and looked at the trainee nurse and said ‘No!, if you can’t do this then learn another way, you are not practising on my 5 week early 5 ½ Ib son’ and walked out. I discharged myself, put my babies in the car and went home! I will say at this point that the hospital, the staff were all fantastic and I’d of probably been dead if it weren’t for them.
In the weeks that followed Louis continued to gain weight, never dropped it like most babies do to start with, and got into a lovely routine really quickly and life was good. Maddie as I knew she would absolutely love her baby brother and loved to help me with him. When it came to it he wasn’t easy to ween off me at around a year old, but I realised that he was using me as a comforter and equally I was happy that when he was ready he’d stop and that’s what happened. He crawled and walked when he was meant to but his speech was delayed as Maddie spoke for him. When I needed Maddie to tell me what he saying I had to get her to stop speaking for him and get him to show and tell me.
Louis, to me, is my normal but during his preschool years, the staff started to notice things that “weren’t quite right”
Now prior to preschool at 3, I thought his behaviour was normal and that he was just a boy who was a bit ‘extra’. He loved to climb, loved to run I would take him and his sister out most days so that Louis ran off his steam. This was done by a trip to the park, a dog walk, and trips to the zoo or running on the beach. If we didn’t then he would just be so busy all day and ‘on one’ and then bed times would be a bit more tricky to get him to sleep, but he wasn’t ever more than I thought was just being a boy. Pete would say all the time, he’s like me at that age, and in honesty I loved his thirst for knowledge. He wanted to know everything all the time, and he would just soak it all up. The one thing I did notice at this time though was that his memories would be stored in a different order, for example he would say, ‘Mummy I had a lovely birthday last week’ when it would have been the day before. He is still like it now. As he has got older he has a concept of time but his memories and times of those memories are all muddled up.
He was also always, and still is, a child that knows his own mind. If he didn’t want to do something then as horrid as it sounds I would have to manipulate him to do as I asked. I’ll always remember my mum saying “Just make him do as he is told”, easier said than done let me tell you!
I understand that it seems easy for people looking in from the outside that this is just what you need to do, but then they don’t see the meltdowns that you have to deal with for the rest of the day. So when I say manipulate, maybe that’s too strong. Louis as we now know is a visual, kinaesthetic learner. This means he learns through seeing and doing, he struggles to learn through reading books, but show him something once and then help him once, that kid has got it down and done so quickly. So when he was little if he didn’t want to put his shoes on, and he had to learn through standing on a stone and it hurting his foot, that’s the way I had to go. I had to learn to listen to myself and my son and not others around me, as what worked for my mum with my sister and I, and what worked for me with my daughter didn’t work for Louis. I think if you ask the older two, they would say that they were all raised differently and yes they are. The base rules for all of them are the same but on a day to day basis, they are raised how they are needed to be. They are individuals as so their raising needs to be individual to them.
Around Louis turning 3 his dad and I split up. Luckily for us it was only for a short while but that obviously caused an impact for them so when the preschool started to notice a few things I asked that they bring in the area SENCo to see him, as I had started to wonder if there was something more going on. There had been a few of the ‘Can we have a word?’ at pick up but half of me just hoped it was down to anxiety and half worried it was more but I didn’t know what.
You know when you look at other children, boys, holding their mums hands nicely as they walk down the road – Louis never did that, or they knew to stop at the side of the road on their bike – I was always running after him because he just couldn’t register that he had to stop at the edge of the pavement to cross the road, so when SENco said yes it is anxiety, I had a wave of relief. “This I can deal with” I thought. This is lots of love, structure, balance, and routine, speaking to him about his worries and guiding him.
And that’s what I did, I always had a nice routine for bed which includes bath, bot bot, story and bed. I always stick to the same routing although I may vary the time so we have the routine but not stuck to a time. This allowed us to go out and come home when we wanted rather than thinking we have to be home by x time otherwise they won’t be able to get to sleep.
So with Louis at that time through his preschool age, I implemented more routines for him and did now and then with him. This told him what we were doing and then what we were going to do. This helped massively and I use it now with Archie, it takes the anxiety away for them as they know what is happening and what is going to happen, what the day looks like roughly and lets them know that somethings may change but they are then able to handle that as they’ve had a rough plan given to them.
In the next blog I’ll go through Louis’ diagnosis procedure and his primary school life, my thoughts and emotions.
If you have any queries and feel you need guidance, please do post in the group and I’ll be happy to help
Here is the link to the facebook group