I’m not sure if I mentioned this before, but I have a five year-old son who is on the spectrum. He’s very intelligent and creative, and mainly deals with some verbal and cognitive issues. He’s wonderfully loving and his sense of humor is amazing. I couldn’t ask for a better child.
When I first told him about the pregnancy, he insisted he wanted a sister. We allowed him to come with us to the anatomy scan so he could see the ultrasound and learn the sex of the new baby with us. He found the ultrasound really fascinating, and I think it made everything more real for him. He still insisted he was getting a sister, despite us telling him that no, the baby was a boy. It’s taken a little explaining for him to understand that I can’t just pick what sex the new baby will be.
Items for our new child have started arriving, including a pack-and-play. My son adored the pack-and-play when he was younger. He’d climb into it to nap or watch TV, or play. Seeing a box for one got him very interested, as well as the picture of a baby on the box. He asked if that was his brother, and I told him that no, the baby was still in my belly. He asked if the baby could sleep in his room, that the baby would be very cute, etc. It warmed my heart to hear him start to show interest in the pregnancy (I know that at 5 years old, waiting nine months must feel like a lifetime).
I was imagining my son growing up with a little brother and was suddenly worried about how that could go. What if this child isn’t on the spectrum? What if this child is neuro-typical and rejects him? What if my older son realizes he’s a little different? The children in his pre-k class all adore him and treat him well, but none of them live with us. What might having a neuro-typical child mean?
I brought this up with my partner last night, and he immediately assured me that he’d already looked into it. He said everything he read suggested that children (especially at a young age) know right away when someone is different, but that it usually leads to a loving and protective relationship. That even if this new baby is NT (neuro-typical), he’ll view my older son as his big brother and love him all the more for it. That we’ll raise them to be good and loving children who are understanding and accepting.
I felt a lot better after discussing it. I have to remember too, just how the other kids react to my son. When we go to the park he has no qualms running over to a group of kids and asking them to play, and they all readily agree. When I drop him off at school and we walk through the door, most of the kids call out to him to say good morning, or ask him to sit with them. He even has a classmate who seems to understand his needs and behavior, and is extra patient with him, rubs his back whenever he gets a little anxious, reminds him a few times about what activity they’re doing if my son gets distracted/off track.
I don’t know if people realize how much encouraging empathy and compassion in their children can mean to someone else. I’m chronically ill myself, and I have very vivid memories of children being less than understanding and kind, even from a very young age. I think each generation is teaching their children to be more aware and kind to one another, and I can tell you hands-down that it’s greatly appreciated and never goes unnoticed.
With those fears and anxieties calmed a bit, I’m left to focus on other things. I’ve been a bit more active since the weather has been so beautiful. I’ll hike 3 miles at a time as often as I can. I’m lifting weights a bit at home, still. All I need to do is wrangle in my eating habits. I don’t eat junk food, but the amount that I’ve been eating has been far too much. Binge eating is really, really difficult to control and get a handle on. I know it’s a mental struggle and I’m trying my best to combat it. I’m going to try meal planning and give that a go.
I’m also researching hypno-birthing and reading Childbirth Without Fear. I want this labor to be unmedicated, and I’m looking into everything I can to help that to happen. With my first son, I had an epidural. My contractions were spinal contractions and excruciating, and I was barely able to move. However, having the epidural meant I was confined to my bed for the entire labor and delivery and it was incredibly boring. I want to be able to move while I labor.
If the pain becomes overwhelming, I’ll definitely consider my options but for now, I’m set on having as natural a birth as possible.