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Dear Daver,

Remember that old Chinese curse, “May You Live In Interesting Times?” Well, darling, I think that applies quite nicely for the year. Can you believe we’ve been married a whole two years now? I remember last year, how nicely I’d put up a post on our actual anniversary and I mentioned what a hard year it had been. Little did I know what Year Two held in store for us.

I was already pregnant with Alexander, who was just a blob at that point, but he was MY blob and I was fiercely protective of him, so when I started to spot I was completely devestated and paranoid about losing him. Then hyperemesis began, and I kind of lost my will to live (remember when I couldn’t take showers because the sensation made me vomit, and the drain was clogged, so when I did vomit, I had to manually scoop the vomitus out of the drain myself? God that was fun!), which actually survived the duration of the pregnancy. I was like a pregnant, flatulent, chubby, and miserable bag of wind who sat on the couch and cried. And then demanded creme brulee. And then cried some more. Then I would throw up the creme brulee I had just eaten while crying.

Life was good (hey, at least the toliets were ALWAYS cleaned to sparkling perfection, because the old pee and pubes made me gag even more). It’s no wonder that we both burst into gales of hysterical laughter when we talk about having more kids.

This year, you have watched uncomfortably as countless people examined my hoo-haa, and not even in an orgy setting. Remember when I thought that my water had broken, but really I had simply peed my pants? And then it happened again in March. Wow, those were fun times.

Then The Sweet Baby (a.k.a Your Clone) was born, and around three months of age, he pulled himself off the boob and took a breath. No matter how sleepless the nights were, it was far better than being pregnant, and now, every time that you walk into the room, both of the children light up and run to you, well, Ben runs and Alex’s body just shakes and writhes with sheer joy. It’s moments like these that I know that no matter what it took to get us here, it was worth every second of agony and pain that we underwent to get here.

I know that this letter is late in coming, but we were fighting on our anniversary and I wasn’t feeling particularly charitable that day, well, until you gave me my anniversary present. You sure know how to soothe the savage beast within me: jewelry, fatty jewelry (and just so you know, this didn’t make up for the bathroom. You’re NEVER going to hear the end of that. Unless you muzzle me).

We made it, baby, we made it. Maybe not with our sanity fully intact, but hey, kids make you a little crazy, don’t they? Now, I know better than to ask for a more sedate year, but can this one be a LITTLE bit less insane, PLEASE?

Love always,

P.S. Do you think the neighbors would notice if I stole their Halloween decorations and put them up in our yard? Hypothetically, I mean, because, err, I would never, ever do that for reals. (Um, mostly)

I’m having a hard day today, and the worst part of it is that I have no idea why. Having an overly emotional mother has left me with a pretty amazing ability to take each emotion that comes through my mind, turn it around, and examine why I feel a certain way and if it is an appropriate feeling to be having. After all feelings are not facts, which is something many people struggle with.

Part of the problem is that I’m a bit used up after this weekend, because in my role in our house, I am the go-to person. Having a bad day? Tell Becky why and she’ll try to make it better. Need a problem solved, go-to Becky/Mom. NEED TO EAT RIGHT NOW, OHMYGOD I NEED TO EAT MOOOOOOOOOOMMM, Mom will make it and feed you. Most of the time, I can handle this and take it all in stride. I’m awesome at multi-tasking, if I do say so myself (and I always do, don’t I?), but sometimes, just sometimes, I need someone else to take the ship and steer it without my help. Last week, because when it rains, it pours, it just wasn’t possible to fix it all and leave anything left of my sanity. There was at no point, during any of my days last week that SOMEONE didn’t need me for SOMETHING RIGHTNOWRIGHTNOWRIGHTNOW, and I’m just shot.

I knew I was in for it last night when I realized that I haven’t been able to eat all of my Weight Watchers POINTS this week, as I am an emotional non-eater. I actually stood at the cabinet last night trying to find something worth approximately 16 POINTS (which is a lot, if you don’t know anything about the diet). I decided on a Colorado Bulldog (a strong drinky-drink), which is like the worst thing for you ever, because I just couldn’t handle the thought of putting real food into my mouth.

The only healthy solution that I have ever been able to use to quell the upsetedness (I loves me my confabulation) is to do hard manual work. As such, my house is now reaping the benefits of having me in a stew–it’s glistening and shining and smells awesome. It worked for awhile, but now that raw feeling is creeping back in, so I’m comforting myself that tomorrow will be a new day and I’ll start to feel more human again.

Sometimes, I just wonder what it’s gonna take.

(this is a reprint of a post I wrote in May, but I wanted to say it all again after reading my new issue of People. It is, probably, my favorite post that I have ever written, and is for sure the most honest.)

No parent ever wants to hear that something is wrong with their child; that their offspring is not completely perfect.

Realizing the magnitude of being entrusted to care for, nurture, raise and eventually let go of a new life is both mindboggling and awe-inspiring as well as terrifying. Before my first was born, I could barely be considered responsible to care for an aquarium, and rightly so: I was just 20.

Having had no experience with babies, I had no idea that mine was abnormal. He hated human touch, he preferred to watch his mobile spin around to looking at faces. His first word was not ‘œMama’ or ‘œDada’ or even ‘œBaba:’ it was ‘œtock-tock.’ His phrase for ‘œtick-tock’ referring to the grandfather clock in the hallway which he adored. I’d be lying if I claimed that I wasn’t devestated by his total lack of interest in me and his distain for my touch, but I assumed that this was just the way he was. Different strokes for different folks and all that happy horseshit.

Shortly after his first birthday, he was introduced to the planets through a Baby Einstein video. Before he could recognize emotions, he knew 4 of the moons of Jupiter and could identify them from different angles. *I* couldn’t even do that. Rather than wanting to read Goodnight Moon, I took him to Borders and he picked out an encyclopedia of the solar system intended for adults, which he memorized cover to cover. He could spend hours at the Planetarium but screamed bloody murder at the zoo. I’d come home from class to several different ‘œsolar systems’ he’d created out of balls, each true to form. His depth of knowledge was amazing and freakish and I have no real way to illustrate that to you here.

This was all before his second birthday.

I had realized, of course, that he wasn’t speaking as much as What To Expect During The First Year said that he should, but considering the authors militant stand about their stupid pregnancy diet in their stupid pregnancy book, I wasn’t too worried. I just assumed that he was developing at a different rate than others his age. I mean, what 17 month old can tell you what Pluto’s moon is? (mine could). I had also figured that no one had really encouraged his speaking abilities, being the only child/grandchild, we all spoke for him.

At his 2 year check-up, his regular ped was out and his partner told me in no uncertain terms that not only could he not understand him, but that he would be writing a referral out for an evaluation from Early Interventions. I left that appointment not only upset with the manner in which the doctor had spoken to me (‘How dare he talk to me like that?’) but by the fact that I hadn’t even thought anything was wrong.

Several times, different evaluators came out to our house to observe him and speak with me about his behaviors. Many of the questions provoked lightbulbs in my head, a ‘œso THAT’S why he does _____! (only eats 3 things, becomes so overwhelmed by touch that he screams inconsolably, lines up his toys by color on the stairs, has an insane facination with spinning things, knows WAAAAAYYY too much about the solar system, flaps his arms whenever he’s excited)’ which really only made me feel worse about the things I had never noticed, or had noticed but considered quirks.

I drew the line at recieving a formal medical diagnosis however, because as a nurse and the daughter of a mentally ill mother, I am completely aware how these things follow you for the rest of your life until you can only define yourself by them. Does that make sense to you? Let me give you an example: I (myself here) am dyslexic, have Crohn’s disease, and have a latex/iodine/shellfish allergy. But does that make me who I am? Not one bit, but not only do I catch myself excusing away things based on this, it has become a teeny tiny but integral part of my self image. And I do not have any behavioral problems to excuse away (i.e. ‘œI’ll never be able to sit still because I have ADD, therfore I won’t even try.’)

Without a totally formal diagnosis, he was explained to be on the autistic spectrum and speech and occupational therapies began immediately. For almost two years, he recieved both therapies and began to make strides toward more normal behavior. He began to speak more frequently and clearly in addition to being able to deal with more and more textures, consistencies, and tastes. His more interesting quirks remain to this day, thankfully, as they are part of what makes him who he is.

My soon to be husband and I enrolled him into private school when he turned three to enrich his social skills, as he had no children his own age to play with at home. I’m not sure that these social skills will ever be what is considered totally normal, but they have improved by leaps and bounds, possibly to the point that an innocent bystander would not realize how much he had once struggled to do something as simple as recognize basic emotions.

I have still struggled through numerous thoughtless comments from both parents and non-parents alike (‘why won’t he eat anything but junk food?’) who have somehow gotten it in their head that his problems are little more than an issue of bad parenting. I have suffered through years of guilt and regret (had *I* done something to cause this?) I have spent cold meal after cold meal coaxing him to eat something that looks different or *is* different. I continue to worry about what his life will be like as he grows older and begins to interact more with the general population: will they be gentle and understanding of his uniqueness or will they tease and mock him mercilessly? Have we done enough to prepare him for the world? I have spent hours upon hours reassuring him that completing a ritual out of order was just fine, and comforting him from afar while wanting nothing more than to sweep him in my arms and kiss his tears away.

I have had to accept that my child is not perfect.

Is this the worst thing that could happen to a mother? Certainly not; he’s happy, he’s healthy, and above all else he is loved unconditionally. Having seen babies born without brains and hearing them cry (possibly the worst sound in the world. It’s loud and atonal), I am aware that I got off pretty easy here. But competing in the Pain Olympics isn’t why I wrote this post.

As you all know, I am not one to use this blog as a politcal forum, nor am I likely to spend time talking about my feelings here, or elsewhere. But I came across this website where you can help kids with autism. Is it real? I think so. If not, well, the song is kind of cute anyway. Either way, this band has supposedly pledged to donate $0.49 for every time this video is watched. It can’t hurt, it can only help.

We all have hopes for our children. As for me, I just hope that he knows how much I have loved him.

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