Wednesday, March 21, 2012
A Post All About My Little Boy - Who's No Longer A Little Boy...
I can hardly believe that 11 years ago yesterday, I gave birth to my second child. Just eleven months after the arrival of my first child, I was blessed with the addition to my family. A healthy, baby boy. For the next three weeks, I have two 11 year old children.
The past 11 years have been long. They've also gone by like the blink of an eye. It amazes me, as I look back at the journey my son has made, how slow and fast the time has gone by. For most children, the first 11 years are a blip on the radar. They enjoy learning new things, discovering their interests, and exploring the world around them. For my son, however, the past 11 years have delivered many trials and tribulations - more than some adults have endured in their entire lifetime.
Here is my son just a few days after he was born...
He was a big boy. He weighed in at 8lbs 10ozs when he was born. Although, his delivery was the easiest of all my children. I started having contractions at around 8pm of March 19th, 2001. I went to the hospital and wasn't feeling the contractions anymore. I was sure they were going to send me home - which had happened about three times prior. When the nurse came in to check me before sending me on my way, she discovered I was dilated to a 4 - and I wasn't going anywhere.
I don't remember everything about the rest of the night. I know that I was given pitocin to increase my contractions. I know that I hardly felt any contractions. I know that I didn't have an epidural - and that my pain level was pretty minor. I know that very early of the morning of March 20th, 2001 I went from 7cms dilated to a 10 in a matter of minutes. It happened so fast, that the nurse didn't believe me when I said I had to push. I remember that I made it to the delivery room just in time - and it only took 3 pushes to bring my son in to the world.
The first few years of his life was tough - but I did the best I could to not burden him or his sister with my problems. Shortly after he was born, we moved to Texas. Another attempt to make things work between his father and I - that failed miserably. I knew that I had to free myself from him, and so I did. We spent some time in a homeless shelter - and that's where Butter celebrated his first birthday. It wasn't the perfect setting, but I made sure it was a happy day for him. Not long after, I was rescued by my parents - and we moved back to Oklahoma to be with them.
The next couple of years that followed, I found my strength. I became a hardworking single mom. I found a great job, and a nice apartment - and all I needed was my kids. Butter entered daycare with his sister, and loved every minute of it. Around the time of his 4th birthday, I met a man that would change the dynamics of our household. A man that would step in to the shoes of being a father figure that my children desperately needed. Within a few months, we moved into a bigger house and started our time together as a family.
After our move, I wanted to have the "normal" family lifestyle. Which meant becoming a soccer mom - or T-ball mom in my case. I wanted my kids to be able to enjoy activities outside of the home. Butter started playing T-ball, and made a lot of friends. He even snatched up his first girlfriend - whom he adored - at the ripe age of 5.
It was shortly after Butter entering kindergarten when I started noticing a change in him. His first, real teacher took a leave of absence due to maternity leave. That's when things started taking a nose dive. I was getting phone calls from school, notes, emails, and things weren't going very well. During Butter's kindergarten year, he was suspended half a dozen times. Suspended. In kindergarten.
During Butter's 1st grade year, a new addition arrived in our family. That was the year Jelly was born. It had been a rough year. I was in my first year of college. I was still trying to maintain a full time job, I had a baby, and things were still pretty rough with Butter at school. We decided, as a family, that it was time to get away - and we took our first family vacation.
Just take one look at that sweet face. I saw nothing in him that gave me any inclining that something may be wrong. He was sweet, kind, and always did what he was told - at home.
The next few years were extremely rough. He continued to get in to constant trouble at school - and I got to my wits end. I called upon counselors to help. They just weren't able to put their finger on the cause of Butter's behavior at school versus his behavior at home. At school he was uncontrollable, at home he was an angel. Nothing made sense.
Things got so tough, that during his 3rd grade year the school gave me an alternative. Either place him in a therapeutic school program, or he would be expelled. The school had no patience for his behavior, no tolerance for what may be wrong with him, and labeled him as nothing more than a problem child. I went with the therapeutic school. A special school that specialized in kids with behavior issues - and those that just couldn't function in a regular school environment. It was also at that time that Butter was placed on medication. He was diagnosed with Oppositional Defiance Disorder, and a mood disorder - the latter required the medication.
His 4th grade year was, by far, the most traumatic for Butter and myself. His behavior began to escalate - including fits of anger and rage. When things got really bad, his doctor upped his medication dose. Then the anger and rage got worse, so the medication was upped again. By the middle of the summer of 2010, I finally admitted defeat - I could no longer control my own son. He was destroying the house with his fits of rage. He would threaten to run away from home. No matter what I said or did, my son would constantly throw words of hatred and abuse towards me....at only 10 years old. He had no remorse, no emotion. He was cold in all of his actions. I had no choice but to have him admitted in to a psychiatric hospital. I've been through a lot in my life, but never have I faced something so difficult. It was the most heartbreak I had ever felt. I felt like a failure as a parent, a failure as a person, and a failure to my son.
As soon as Butter was admitted, he was taken off all medications. They wanted to see him at his worst. It was the only way to correctly evaluate the situation. But, the worse never came. He spent the first few days crying. He was remorseful. He was pushed by the doctors and therapists to try and see what the cause of his anger had been - but got nothing. One of the best pediatric psychiatrists in the state was called in to evaluate Butter's situation. How could a child who had a history of such anger, violence, and bad behavior suddenly switch it all off? The doctor found the cause in a matter of minutes.
We found out that Butter had been treated with a stimulant medication prior to his admittance in to the hospital. Butter's brain didn't react the way it was supposed to when on the medication. His dosage was so high that Butter's brain was literally on over-drive. Every nerve ending was lighting up at the same time, causing the inability to control his anger or rage. He was hurting - big time - but was unable to comprehend or express the pain. The more he acted up, the higher the dosage that was given...that basically got him to the brink of a breakdown. Take away the medicine? It took away the explosion that was happening in his brain.
During that time, I again felt like an utter failure. I had been the one to seek help for Butter. I had been the one to OK the increase of medication each time. I had been the one to trust these professionals that had been treating my son. All the while, finding out he'd been made worse.
Butter spent almost 3 months in that hospital. He was given new medication, guidance, support, and information on his illness. The doctor diagnosed him with ADHD and mood disorder- and there is a high probability for bipolar, although they did not want to step in to that territory until they have to. The type of ADHD he has causes his brain to not comprehend many things the same way other people can. He sees things in black and white. There is no gray area for him. He was given non-stimulant medication, and began to function normally.
After his release from the hospital, he was cleared to go back to public school. I knew that there was no way I was letting him go back to the school he came from - so I brought him to the place I knew he would be able to succeed...the school I'm working in.
This past school year has had it's ups and it's downs. It's been a process. Butter is learning to cope with his disorder. He's learned about it, he's used strategies and coping skills. My son is amazing. To be thrashed with so many problems at such a young age is horrible - but he got through them. He still has good days and bad days, but the good far outweigh the bad. I have also had to learn a lot. I know, now, that I have to explain everything to him in great detail so that he's able to process the information. Again, he has no gray area - so if things aren't explain in black and white, he just can't comprehend them. I know that I have to provide support, encouragement, and strict boundaries. He has to be able to make the choices that determine his consequences.
This past week, Butter truly has made the most drastic of changes. He's grown up so much. He's done his chores with no complaints. He's offered to help with everything and anything he can. He has that twinkle back in his eyes - the twinkle of hope, love, and stability. He truly is a hero of mine. To go through so much at such a young age is truly remarkable.
I love all my children equally. Each have their own quirks, their own personalities. But, today, I celebrate my son. I love him more than he'll ever know. I am so proud of his accomplishments. He is an amazing child. I look forward to many birthdays to come - knowing that these past few years will mold the man he will one day become.
I love you, Butter.
Till next time. ;)