Twenty year ago today I gave birth to my second child. From the very first moment, life with my Eric was to be different than anything I had ever known. Three ultrasounds had said HE was a girl. Nope. My labour with my oldest son had been text book. With Eric it was completely different and I had to be treated for shock. Eric slept straight through the first 12 hours of his life. That would be the last time he would sleep longer than a few hours at a time, ever. He didn't cry. Not a single tiny 'wah', until he was 6 months old. Then every other week or so he would cry for hours and hours straight, as if in extreme pain. No doctor could find a reason. Despite that, he was an incredible baby. and I felt blessed. So quiet. So easy. He was fussy around people, but if I held him, or he was allowed to play on his own, he`d be content for hours. A beautiful baby with cascades of blonde ringlets and massive mahogany eyes, I was approached often about putting him in pictures. Eric crawled early, walked at 9 months, he was physically very advanced. But he still wasn't making sounds. At 9 months I spoke to my family doctor. He set up appointment after appointment with specialist after specialist for years to come. He knew that if I thought something was not quite right, than it wasn't. I took Eric for hearing assessments and psychological assessments blood tests and MRIs but I often felt we were being brushed off.
Finally at just over 3 years old, Eric was diagnosed with autism.
|Eric and I|
Autism was a word people did not know back then, and we ran into a lot of roadblocks. I learned the appropriate therapies and trained so that I could provide it for him.
Eric was a wanderer, a runner, and most pictures you see of him have SOMEONE holding him tight. HE`d climb out second story windows and knew no danger. He kept me on my toes.
What I didn't expect, when my baby was born, and again when he was diagnosed, was the incredible life lessons he bring to anyone around him. How he be a divining rod to point out who was worthy of our love and caring. How he'd make all of us understand just what was truly important.
It took 9 years for Eric to say Mommy. He was sound asleep. I assume he was having a nightmare. He jumped up and screamed 'Mommy' . I remember every sound, smell and sight of that moment. I can feel his tears on my arm as I cuddled him to calm him from the nightmare, and can feel my own tears pouring down my cheeks, soaking my nightgown, beautiful happy tears. I can hear the cheers from family members as I called at 2am to share the wonderful news.
I have never heard a more beautiful sound in my life as that simple utterance of 'Mommy' in the middle of the night.
|Eric and Ms Cromien|
|Eric and Ms Orsini|
|Eric and Christina, his 1st non-Mommy therapist|
I fought hard to make sure Eric had exceptional people working with him. His teachers and therapists have all been extraordinary, and they have become family. They moved heaven and earth to make things happen for him. Bernadette Cromien convinced a priest to conduct a service in the classroom. Eric, whose sensory challenges made going to a church virtually impossible was in this way able to have his first communion. Everyone from the school janitor to the principal came to celebrate with Eric. When he graduated elementary school, even though he had not been in their classes, he'd been in a special needs class virtually all the time, every last one of the other graduates stood and cheered as Eric walked down the aisle to get his diploma, high-fiving him all the way. The principal sobbed and gave Eric a bear hug as she moved his tassel and congratulated him. His EAs and teachers and lunch supervisors and bus drivers over the years were all there. Not a dry eye anywhere. Eric brings out that wonderful caring spirit. He makes you see that people can be extremely caring and loving to each other. It is a very special gift.
The last three years, as is common with young autistic adults, Eric descended into crisis. He developed severe anxiety and was hospitalised several times. But he learned to say 'i love you Mommy' on his own. And his struggle through anxiety to get on the school bus has been an inspiration to many
As a species, we are social animals. Every human being needs to be wanted, needs to be loved. So many people look at my family and think I give so much to my son. In reality, it is the other way around. Every day I am reminded of what is important. Every day I learn more about love and caring and LIFE than I ever would without my monkey. This is not the life I expected, it is so much more. All because 20 years ago today I was blessed with my very special, and very much needed Eric. With all my heart and soul, and the hope that one day you will read these words and understand them, I am telling you, and the world, that I, Lori Pollard, am blessed beyond belief to have been chosen as your Mommy.
Eric. My baby. Forever and always I love you.