Thursday, November 12, 2009

We all find our support

One of the physical therapists we work with to address Hannah's cerebral palsy issues likes to say "we all find our support." He explains if he is near a wall you'll find him leaning on it. What he wants to tell me is not to be so close behind Hannah that it is easier to fall back against me than do her own work. Yes, he tells this to a woman with short arms, large breasts, and a small, tippy, wannabe toddler. We do all find our support. Mine starts with Z and ends in T and rhymes with Olof.

I spent some months trying not to go on an anti-depressant. Six months, actually, after Hannah's second set of issues became apparant. I was feeling like I didn't have PPD, but an acceptable level of stress and aggravation as would any forty something year old mother of two, one of whom came home from the hospital with a three hour expiration date. Who wouldn't cry? I didn't see the tears as depression, I saw them as a fairly normal reaction to an abnormal situation. I thought I was OK but sleep deprived. Then I watched as Hannah's little fist never unclenched and I knew something was lurking about. My husband and pediatrician did not want to jump to conclusions but I wanted answers and googled my way into a state of panic, then got my fears confirmed by professionals in the know and got started on supportive services to help Hannnah get her motor skills going.

After a few evals and visits I found I started each new discussion with "look, I am a crier so just know that now, make a note or whatever, and try not to notice or I cry some more. Let's talk about Hannah. Gulp." I couldn't get it under control to save myself. Every time I thought about right now I'd cry, thinking of where she wasn't on standard bell curves, and when I'd think of the future I'd cry to picture how Hannah's walk might look and whether she'll drag her foot, and how other kids will treat her, and the enormity of it all just kicks me in the gut.

I didn't want to use a powerful medication while I was still making milk, and my husband is distrustful of drug companies and would not be excited to see me reliant on medication. But, it seemed to me that my family needed me not to be so weepy. Hannah needed me not to cry at every damn therapy session, Claire needed me to not be so tense that every moment at home needed to be a therapy moment for Hannah. It wouldn't hurt Lord Honey to have me not be so unhappy, so I went with what seems to be the most favored option for breastfeeding mothers and took the plunge. And now, a month or so in, the reason to do this seems much clearer now, it was for me.

The world looks brighter. I still cry in therapy sessions sometimes, but not every time. I cried when the PT wanted to see her try a walker and nearly hit him when he asked me why I found it upsetting. Therapists often seem to forget that patients/parents might not have come to the fork in the road marked "acceptance." I still have something to wrestle with: I didn't want to be the brave little toaster who could. I didn't want to be the mother of a child with a disability. I'll be wrestling this demon for a while, I think, because I don't want Hannah to be disabled, and I don't want to define her that way. Using my super strong spidey sense powers of prediction, I think she'll end up being the child everyone is impressed by because she is smart and beautiful and happy, and she will be strong and probably even a brave little toaster. And it feels a little weird to say this out loud in writing, but she won't be the person with a disability who makes other people uncomfortable with icky evidence of ill health and need, so we'll coast on that, while other mothers of children with more severe needs are pitied or avoided. That is also strange. And someday, I will want to smack a stranger who makes a comment I won't like, and I will struggle with teaching my daughter to accept herself and also try to make herself stronger. The road ahead looks long and rocky, but better lit now with Zo' on board.

I am lucky to have this child, this sister, this family to care for even if I needed a little blue pill. When those eyes search mine I know it all over, I am lucky and fortune smiles on me. Wish he'd do the laundry, though. Let me cheer this blog up by showing you Hannah eating asparagus. Tomorrow we'll get back to less weighty topics, like asparagus pee.


  1. Accepting that you need a little support of the chemical kind is a Very Hard Thing sometimes. And yet admitting weakness often requires more strength than otherwise. It's one of those paradoxes.

    I wish I had done so earlier. Grats to you!!!

  2. Providing support to a special needs child is hard work. I know from experience. It involves all of your emotions, hard work, long hours, and loads of prayer. Keep up the great work!

  3. My daughter was recently put on the autism spectrum, and so many of your words resonate with me. (I'm also considering therapeutic/chemical support for myself)
    Thank you for your honesty. :)

  4. If thymes-with-olof is what it takes, then hurrah for the zo...and good for you (and the family). I love the idea of finding your support, and if a blue pill is part of it for you, for now, then great. We all need support, whether it's for walking or weeping or whatever.

  5. Big hug to you!

    Those blue pills are there to help, and you are doing the right thing.

    Another hug!


  6. Thank you all for your kind words.