Oct 24, 2018
A Mama’s Unexpected Journey …
So here we are, in our white farmhouse in the country with our own little acre of land. A house with most of the pictures and decorations removed, minimal furniture, chew marks on more things than we can count, a cabinet full of melatonin and natural calming gummies because sleep and calmness are things of the past, and a sensory gym in our bonus room. How did we get here? Sometimes it’s good even to remind ourselves…
6 years. Just a little over 6 years is all it’s been since I sat at a desk every day crunching numbers, making everything balance doing accounting and consulting work. It’s certainly where my “professional” gifts were, but my heart was always in wanting to be a mom.
6 years. It seems like forever ago, but that’s all it’s been since I carried my first biological child inside me until one day there was no longer a heartbeat.
6 years. That’s really all it’s been since we first said let’s open our hearts to the door of adoption, whether biological children come or not.
6 years since everything in my heart and life started changing.
I never knew what it would be like to sit by a bedside and hold the hand of a birth mother as she went through the agonizing birth of her child, only to look at the nurse and say, “Please hand her the baby. She’s the mama.”
I never knew was it was like to sit alongside a birth mother to share in the joy of a live ultrasound for a child we expected to bring home, only to never see that child come into our home.
I never knew what it was like to travel all day and walk into a hospital in the middle of the night to have a nurse hand me a child and say, “She told us you’d be here. Meet your new little one.”
I never knew the incredible, sacrificial love of birth mothers, but now I do. I saw and heard things that my heart and mind could never un-see. These sorts of experiences change you. I carry memories in my heart that could never be put into words, and it would only be right to try to for my children, who deserve to hear these things first.
Pre-natal and biological histories were told. Some with significant details we knew could carry weight in future years.
Pediatricians began asking questions regarding developmental and neurological milestones. Referrals were made for occupational therapy and other evaluations.
So here we are. Currently with a 2, 3, and 4 year old with the combined blessing of autism, ADHD, and other behavioral and sensory challenges. Our world on the outside often looks nothing like the daily grind, as is the case for most of us.
As some of the behavioral and impulsive struggles became apparent, it was obvious we were lacking in the tools and knowledge to help our children. We became surrounded with a support network of occupational therapists that were committed to helping us understand how our children’s brains were wired. How some of their histories have altered parts of their brains and there would be different ways to teach them. Different ways to regulate their constantly moving bodies. Different ways to settle severe meltdowns that could occur seemingly out of the blue.
Side note - if you don’t have OT’s committed to helping your home environment mimic the work in the clinic, find some!!
Slowly we learned things and connected the dots on information that just 6 years ago, we had zero knowledge about. Most days, we still feel clueless, but we became convinced that growth and change was never going to happen with only a couple hours of work in a clinic every week.
The same tools and work were needed at home. The primary job rested on us as the parents to learn how our children’s bodies and brains worked! It’s often said it takes a village to raise a child. And while there’s so much truth to the collaboration and work it takes, sometimes I wonder if we take that a little to far. Sometimes I wonder if we want the village to do the work that we have the responsibility to do at home. Trust me, it’s hard, hard work.
We began minimizing the number of things around our home. Some of the bedrooms consisted of nothing but a bed, and even then the mattress would often get moved around the room. We began looking into options for installing swings for calming and a gym for our constant sensory and motion seekers.
I “stumbled” upon a picture from Fun Factory Sensory Gyms. I saw they were located in NJ, but on a whim figured I would call them anyways. This began a series of conversations explaining our story and our needs. The team at FFSG became committed to finding a way to install what we needed quickly.
In a matter of weeks, a team drove up from out of state and in a day’s work installed a professional sensory gym in our bonus room.
Every single morning, very loud little voices are heard singing at the top of their lungs while swinging, hanging, and climbing.
Within just a number of weeks, we heard comments at OT like “we saw so much more organization and an ability to actually sit and play for a bit.”
We ourselves saw first hand a child in an extreme meltdown be taken to the net swing and have calmness return.
Change doesn’t happen overnight. Growth takes time and any kind of special need requires the patience to wait for change to happen slowly. But growth never happens without tools.
Every time I see the climbing walls, the swings, the money bars, the zip line . . . I smile.
Because behind all these tools are memories. Memories of how we got where we are today. Tears of thankfulness for the blessing of all the people that have been put in our life . . . from birth mom, to OT, to a FFSG team…that have combined to create a story that’s still being written, but sure has a life changing first few chapters.