December 27, 2009 by Marj Hatzell
Today is your seventh birthday! Seven years ago from this very moment, I was pale as a ghost, attempting to nurse you and recovering from a wicked emergency c-section. You weren’t content with being two weeks late and apparently you weren’t into the whole natural childbirth thing. That’s why they wheeled me into the operating room in the wee hours of the morning and you were born at 2:10. Thanks for that.
Since you were born, we’ve been on the biggest roller coaster ever. There have been so many ups and downs, from fighting thrush for six months at a time to mastitis to pneumonia to mystery rashes to ER visits for stitches. We’ve had the highest highs and the lowest lows and everything in between. We’ve had so many successes and failures and we’ve taken a step forward and two steps back AT LEAST THIRTY TIMES. But one thing remains constant: You are still the happiest kid alive.
We may not always understand you and sometimes I don’t know who is more frustrated, you or your parents. You work SO HARD every day and you don’t ask for much. You are all about a walk in the park or a ride in the car. You’ve never ONCE asked for video games or a trip to Disney World and you don’t ask for toys like all the other bratty kids in the world. Of course, you are non-verbal but that’s COMPLETELY BESIDES THE POINT. You have a smile that lights up the whole room. No, the whole universe. Your giggles are infectious.
Two days ago I was praying for a Christmas miracle. I wanted so badly to hear your voice. I wanted to hear you speak. And while you’ve never uttered a spoken word, I realized that I’ve been going about it all wrong. See, you’ve been speaking LOUDLY and we just haven’t listened the right way. For a while there we thought maybe you were speaking Greek or Farsi or something and we needed an interpreter. Then we realized you were speaking Autism and now we totally get it. At least some of the time. OK, FINE, I’ll admit it. We don’t get it at all. But we’ll never give up. Never, ever. We’re going to understand you someday.
And then Christmas Eve, Daddy called me downstairs to listen to something. And he pointed to you and said, “Say Hi Momma!” And you waved and signed Momma and SAID, “MOMMA”. That’s right, you SAID Momma. With your mouth. As in, you uttered something in this cute little whispery voice. And I giggled, and clapped and jumped up and down and said, “Say DADDY!” And you signed Daddy and said, “MOMMA.” Um. We’ll work on it. The point is, you did it! You tried! And we are so encouraged!
You even opened some gifts Christmas Morning. I’m heartily sorry for having offended thee when I gave you that realistic horse. You didn’t have to hurl it across the room and scream like it was burning you. My bad. I should have known that a fuzzy horse with real hair was NOT as cool as a cheesy plastic one. I am happy you love your new puzzles and your music therapy toys. But we should have stopped there. Having people over three days in a row and then expecting you to open gifts on your actual birthday? DUMBEST MOVE EVER. Meltdown city. Kicking, biting, etc. Not pretty, y’all. Momma’s sorry for being an eejit and pushing it. It won’t happen again. For now on for your birthday we are totally spending the day by ourselves, in peace and quiet. You don’t seem to know it is your birthday and you certainly don’t care, given the fact that you’d rather climb into a cardboard box and pull a blanket over your head (That should have been my first clue).
Thanks for being so freaking awesome kid. And, when I’m a grumpy mommy and I yell or get upset or frustrated or cry, give your Momma a kiss. Because when you throw your arms around me and press your little lips on my cheek it’s worth all the gold in the world. No, MORE.
I love you, my little Bugaboo!