"Autism & Memoirs of an Old Maid"…C'hele's Story

May 14, 2007

Autism: I’m Not A Bad Parent! I’m A Parent Of A Child With Asperger’s Syndrome ~ “The Beginning”

Filed under: Aspberger Syndrome, Autism, Special Needs — C'hele @ 17:23

A long while ago, I attempted to create a blog solely about my personal experiences as a single parent raising a child with autism and the nature of autism itself.  I had great difficulties keeping the blog alive as I still felt too much pain and frustration to even “want to go there.” The re-posted entry is about my pregnancy with Michaela.  It is my hope that other parents of children with autism will find the enclosed information informative as they compare it to thier own experiences during pregnancy.  Here it is:

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Like so many other parents I will divulge the experiences of heart-break, the frustrations and challenges, and learning experiences involved in raising and caring for a child with Autism. I will both rant, despair, and share with all of you. I will also share the blessing along the journey.

Michaela has been instrumental in moulding me into the person I am today. I often tell her that when she was in heaven standing alone with God, before she was in my tummy, she looked down, pointed, and picked me. I may not of fully understood the profound meaning to this in the past, but I understand now, the “Gifts” bestowed upon me by both her and the Great Mystery. Life may be difficult and not fair, but it has taught me lessons about unconditional love, compassion, how to breathe, how to be strong and to learn how to take one day at a time. I continue to endeavour to remain focused and positive whilst on this journey for both Michaela and I.

C’hele

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“No river can return to its source, yet all rivers must have a beginning.”

~ A Native American Proverb

And so I begin. At the very beginning, when my daughter was developing in a cozy, snug world that was warm, fluid, and shadowy. When sounds consisted of the steady intermingling of heart-beats and music, lot’s of classical music. My pregnancy went smoothly and pretty normal, well at least I thought so. This was my first and only pregnancy, so I have nothing to compare it to except from stories from other mothers. Michaela did not move around much throughout the pregnancy, and many times I often had to visit the doctor just to check and see if she was alive. Now and again, I was relieved to at least receive some indication that she was, by her hiccupping. She hiccupped a lot actually. I never experienced the feeling of a baby stretching, rolling, and moving about in my belly. Michaela was quiet, too ominously quiet for my liking. The only issue I had during my pregnancy was when I contracted a flu virus and a high temperature at six months, and I had to go on antibiotics for a week. I never smoked, took any drugs of any kind, ate extremely well and walked regularly every day.

The imminent day that Michaela was to arrive, did not go without its difficulties or its major stresses for that matter. In fact, I would not wish the experience on my worst enemy really. I had difficulties convincing the nurses that I suspected that the mucus plug had fallen out and that I needed to be checked by my physician. Instead, I was sent home as my description of the incident was not the “norm“. For the whole day and night I started experiencing light cramping or were they contractions? It was hard to tell and upon comparing to other women, mine were not the same, nor were they consistent. I went back to the hospital to explain to the nurses that I suspected that something wasn’t right and if I could be checked by a doctor. I had to fight like hell until finally they called him in. Upon checking me, the doctor confirmed that the mucus plug had indeed fallen out and he was furious that I was sent home for fear of infection (thank goodness I didn’t have one). An hour later, they induced me.

From that moment on, and all night, I experienced severe back pain and labour (and again I state), that I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. The muscles in my whole body tensed up so bad that that I actually strained some. I had to have two people constantly massage both my upper and lower body for hours. They eventually hooked me up to a monitor to keep an eye on the baby‘s vitals. A long time had passed, and I still wouldn’t dilate and the baby was going in distress. The doctor and nurses became worried and gave me a shot of Demerol in the hopes of relaxing the muscles to increase the dilation. It didn’t work. After having to endure a dozen humiliating positions in order to simulate and increase dilation, nothing worked. They had requested a specialist from Vancouver Island and had flown him in to give me an epidural. FIVE TIMES he stuck that HUGE needle in my lower back to no avail. All the muscles in my body were still too tense and he couldn’t get the needle properly inserted. I could feel the needle sliding into my back with a slight shot of pain followed by a moment of paralysis in my lower extremities. But something felt wrong…It started to really hurt. After five holes in my back and attempting a sixth, my mother feared that some damage could occur and told the specialist to stop. I could feel the blood run down my lower back and buttocks. Exhausted and leaning on my mother, ready to give up, mom whispered the word “Sisu” to me (my other blog offers the definition of Sisu) and this helped to revive me a bit.

Frustrated, the specialist literally threw down the needle on the bed and walked out of the room. One nurse suddenly jumped in and took my hands and said to me: “we have one more position to try, lets go.” Walking in an intoxicated-like manner, they lead me straight to the bathroom. Thank god I am flexible from years of Yoga, because she sat me down on the toilet and with the help of another nurse, they spread my legs wide open like I was some wish bone and told me to lean forward. I did, and after waiting a few moments, they finally saw the crowning of silky hair. Rushing me over to the bed they put me to work. Ready to die from exhaustion (figure of speech), the doctor tells me to only push when he says its ok and to follow the “urge” as I do so. Frightened, because I have no urge to push, I looked straight at my mother with a “what now?“ look. She knew the situation and returned my look with an “it’s ok look“ so, I waited until the doctor gave me the go-ahead. The baby appeared to not want to leave my belly…I felt no help or movement from her whatsoever and told the doctor so. I could hear nurses scurrying about beyond a curtain to my right preparing instruments for a caesarean section. The doctor informed me that they would have to put me under to perform the operation if we were unsuccessful having the baby naturally.

Now I’m angry since I had planned this to be a natural birth and it was my biggest desire to observe my child being born in the world. I was not going to be put under and miss the whole wondrous experience (even if wasn’t so far!). Between feeling anger over this whole ordeal and listening to my mother almost chanting “Sisu,” I grit my teeth and literally pushed that baby out on my own. When she came out, she was incredibly lethargic looking and blue-grey in colour. The doctor was shocked with the realization that I had not one contraction (or the urge to push), and forcibly pushed her out. They put my daughter on my stomach and despite the lethargy and slight bluish colour, she looked healthy. I had two names picked out should the baby be a girl, and decided that I would make my choice as soon as I saw her little face.

Which one it would be, Madeleine or Michaela? I remember looking down and touching her head softly and saying “Hello Michaela.“ She did something I’ll never forget: she looked right at me and kept looking at me for the longest time. We were all amazed with the experience. The doctor then whisked her away to an incubator to the left side of the room and laid her in it to clean her up. Two more doctors entered the room and all three huddled together whispering amongst themselves. Knowing I was worried, the doctor came over to assure me that Michaela was healthy and the lethargy and bluish skin tone was due to the effects of the Demerol. He then proceeded to remove the placenta and put it on a silver tray. Flopping it over, and over again, I looked at him strangely and asked him what the matter was. He told me that a normal umbilical cord has two smaller cords (I believe they are called umbilical arteries) that intertwine around each other to make one cord. Apparently I had three umbilical arteries wrapped together to make the one cord…something the doctor had never seen before. This discovery slightly unnerved me and a thought crossed my mind, if my daughter might have been some extraterrestrial implant! (I‘m joking of course). Later on when I held my daughter in my arms, I knew as I looked down at her that she physically appeared normal, but my intuition was telling me that she was different. Cute as a button, but different.

(To be continued)

C’hele

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