Autism, Family, Uncategorized

I If I Only Had a Heart

I’m not sure if I was excited or nervous when I finally heard his little feet on the stairs body ricochet off every wall on his way from his bedroom to the living room. I was sat in quiet reflection with my tiny newborn sleeping on my chest, and with one almighty crash, there he was.

Sawyer burst through the door and in his usual routine, without looking up, started to make his way across to the room toward my place on the settee. “Morning Sawyer!” I sang as he approached. In the moments that followed, time seemed to forget itself and I watched in slow motion as he glanced a double take at the baby in my arms, changed direction and continued about his day. My heart broke in two as the familiar feeling of guilt washed over me. I simultaneously berated myself for the fact Sawyer had been completely unprepared for this major adjustment to his life, and reassured myself there had just been no real way of preparing him.

That first day home as a family of four unfolded more positively as the hours passed. I wont lie, that afternoon took a lot of ‘gentle, Sawyer’ and ‘slowly, Sawyer’ but on the whole it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it might have been. I had spent months scared by a memory of when I was about 18 weeks pregnant with his sister, when I had taken him to a toddler soft play session. As was often the case, Sawyer was overwhelmed, reckless and unstoppable as he chased around the room Tasmanian Devil style. He didn’t understand for example, that children mustn’t take their drinks on to the soft play mats, but since I couldn’t explain these issues to him in the traditional way, he simply went in to meltdown mode as I took the cup (not even his) away. I’m acutely aware that it sounds like nothing more than a normal toddler tantrum, and I’m reminded that I must write a post dedicated to the difference between a tantrum and sensory meltdown. In any case, he ran over to a newborn baby car seat, and within a split second had ripped the fleecy blanket from within and thrown it behind him in a spin. Thankfully there had been no baby inside, but nevertheless my heart raced straight up and in to my mouth. This is going to be a nightmare, I thought. And with that in mind, it was a relief to reach the end of that first day feeling positively surprised when Sawyer went to bed typically easily, and happily.

The weeks that followed were as tough as you would expect with two small children to look after, and arguably a little bit tougher with Sawyer being more active than your average 2-year-old boy. But as for him accepting the new baby, after that first day it was a non-issue to the point that I started to wonder if perhaps he wasn’t seeing her as a person at all. With a complete lack of interest/intrigue on his part I started to ponder whether he was accepting this new addition as an inanimate object rather than as a human being to love and cherish. And that made sense to me, as to why gaining a sibling seemed so easy for Sawyer, when all advice states how difficult it is. After all,  it must be rather difficult to feel jealous of a table leg. Jokes aside, I always explained to people that Sawyer was ‘far too busy to notice’ that he had a new sister, but I’m not sure I ever believed that. And I constantly wondered whether he had accepted his new baby sister with commendable ease, or whether he simply was not seeing her as human. I added that to the long list of questions I believed would never be answered, and I carried on with life in the unknown.

After having my youngest, I left hospital at such speed that they hadn’t had a chance to perform the standard hearing check. In order for them to discharge us quickly I agreed that we would make an appointment at our local health centre to have the test carried out at a later date. The letter came through a week later and so with husband, toddler, baby, changing bag, snacks, pens and toys in tow, off we went to her appointment, running smugly on time. We had attended the same appointment for Sawyer when he was a baby and so we knew exactly what to expect this time around (baby stays sleeping calmly in car seat; nice lady performs test; we leave). If someone could point out exactly where my brain was that day, I would be interested to hear. I suppose as a new mum-of-two, I had gone to that appointment in blissful ignorance, not yet knowing quite how logistically impossible any kind of children’s appointment would ever be again. And I had my husband with me! WHY DID WE ALL GO? I digress.

In the little room, Sawyer was noisy. Of course he was bloody noisy, he was(is) always noisy! We tried to keep him quiet for a little while, but he was simply to loud and active for the health visitor to concentrate properly on the test, so I suggested my husband take him outside the room for a few minutes whilst we finished up. Hubby dutifully obliged and they calmly and quietly left the room. Presumably you’ve been reading my blog long enough to know that my life just doesn’t work that way, and my previous sentence was an absolute WHOPPER. Sawyer screamed and kicked, threw himself to the floor, and wailed in what can only be described as complete desperation. I ran after them to calm him as I could hear him screeching through tears ‘OH NO, BABY! BABY!’. Frantic, he tried to dash past us, in to us, behind us, round us, in to walls, his eyes wide with fear and his limbs crazed with helplessness. There was no calming him and the only thing I could do to keep him safe was scoop him up and hold him for a few seconds until I heard my name gently called from inside the room to say our daughter’s hearing was normal. As we went back in to the room, the stress visibly left Sawyer’s little body and he raced to the car seat, attempting to collect it up himself to ensure we could not ‘forget her’ again. He kissed her forehead and refused to let go of the handle until she was safely inside the car.

As I drove home, my mind span around with everything that had just taken place. I wondered if he had truly believed we were going to leave her behind and that he would never see her again. Why, when he had paid no real mind to her since she had been born, did he suddenly seem so sad to leave her side? Could it be that he did understand that she was family?

And then I found hope. Perhaps he can learn to love a table leg after all.


Related content:
Sense of Impending Weirdness

4 thoughts on “I If I Only Had a Heart”

  1. I’ll never forget the time you left ours to strap him in the car first and he had a meltdown cos he thought you were leaving her. She can’t go far wrong with that boy loving her x

  2. They love in their own unique way. Nathaniel rarely shows any feelings for us or the animals but I remember when his first hamster died – he was absolutely distraught and lay on the bed sobbing. I sometimes wonder if they feel but do not know how to express the feelings so just keep them shut inside. Thank you for this xx

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