Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Didn't see that one coming

This past October, my wife and I received some amazing news...the test showed a positive did the second test she took just to be sure. I was on the verge of convincing her to take a third test, you know, just to be sure...oh, wait, that was what the second test was for, wasn't it?

It wasn't that I was not excited (I was extremely excited...and nervous...and happy...and confused...and thrilled...and wondering what the hell we were doing having a kid in our forties...and nervous...but mostly really really excited), it was that I grew up in a generation where women went to the doctors to get a blood test before they found out if she was pregnant or not. Although they are very accurate, I still did not trust the over-the-counter pee-stick...I mean, come on, pee on a stick to see if you are preggers???  What's next? A phone that takes photos or plays music? Ha!  Yeah, right!

Let's take a step back for a moment...back to the moment I found out for the first time. As I was preparing dinner, Jane asked me to go upstairs to the bathroom and grab something off the counter. I briefly thought to myself, "Why don't you go get it, I'm cooking dinner...geez!" but my smart brain kicked in, just in time, and said, "Yes, dear." When I arrived, I noticed a stick sitting on a piece of open wrapping. Being the observant and curious one, I looked at it.  There it was, a pee stick. I have seen them before, so I was not surprised to see it there, but just for giggles, I picked it up. As my fingers touched the handle of the stick, I saw the "+"...

So, here I am, about to pick up a stick that has just been peed on, having a million emotions from all ends of the emotion spectrum blazing through my little brain, not knowing which emotion to hold on to, wondering when we can share the news, planning how we will share the news, thinking, "nah, its a false positive", wondering, "how are we going to do this?', planning the call to Auntie, to whom I promised seven years ago she would be the first to know, looking in the mirror and seeing my happy face - which doesn't appear often enough, and at one point, even wondering whose test this was since it clearly must belong to someone else (not really sure why I thought that last one, but I did). By the time my fingers actually lifted the stick off of the counter, my brain was exhausted.

In the next few days, Jane and I talked about names, genders, possibilities - both good and bad, when do we make the announcement, how we tell our 12 year old son, and quite possibly the most important thing in her eyes - which books to buy.  The first three days were completely consumed with baby talk. She and I both knew it was going to be a girl, so we concentrated on the girl names. It was then that we both noticed that girl names are so much more interesting and cooler than boy names.  We developed a list of possibilities, eventually deciding on Farren Delaney.

Farren means bold traveler, or adventurous. Lately, it seems our lives are in a prelude to much larger adventures. Time will tell. Delaney means dark challenger...yeah, not so thrilled with the challenger part, but the reason we chose Delaney was because of "De" meaning "of" and "La" part of "Larry" and "aney" part of "Jane"...thus, "of Larry and Jane"...Delaney...get it?

So at this time, we decided we needed to tell our son. As an Aspie, he does not like to be surprised with sudden changes, but as our son he has grown accustomed to some changes through practice and teachings from us; however, this would not be a little change in plans, no, this was a HUGE change in plans. We planned to video record his reaction, and we did, but I won't post it here since he was walking around in his PJs (underwear and one of my old tee-shirts), but I will try to describe it for you.

We learned that at that particular time, Farren would be about the size of a grain of rice. Which, even now, completely amazes me that something so incredibly magical can start off so small. Jane picked out a cute little grain of brown rice and laid her down in a cozy little ramekin. Grant sat down on the couch, wondering why we called him downstairs before bedtime. As Jane and Grant sat next to each other, I filmed (although I'm not sure I can call it filming anymore since it was done with my phone...) Jane placing the little piece of rice into Grant's 12 year old hand. Jane asked, "Do you know what it is?" to which Grant replied, "Its a grain of rice."

As he inspected the grain with puzzlement, Jane opened an app on her phone that shows the progression of birth by the week. Once the drawing of the baby was visible on the screen, Jane turned the phone to Grant who then said, "What's that? It looks like a whale."  Jane replied, "It's an embryo. It's about six weeks old. Do you know how big they are?" Grant replied, "No." "What's in your hand?" asked Jane. "A grain of rice." said Grant. Jane followed up with, "So that's how big your little baby brother or sister is at this point."

"WHAT?!?!?" Grant excitedly replied. Jane started giggling and Grant continued with, "Mom! What? I'm having a brother? Really??? Mom?" Jane replied with, "It might be a sister, too!" At this point he stood up, clearly thrilled with the idea and said, "I'm going to be a big brother or sister!" After the laughter of that last comment, and his realization of what he just said, and with his hands on top of his head in the "I can't believe this" pose, he looked at Jane and calmly said, "Am I dreaming?"

At this point, his brain began to fully understand what was happening. He told Jane she was going to be a mommy again and looked a bit worried. When Jane asked how he felt about all of this, "Scared." was his only answer. Trust me kid, I know what you mean! The amazement and happiness were still there, but they began to break up into pieces with the voids being replaced by concern. Grant leaned into Jane and the flood gates opened up.

"I don't want to be a big brother." he cried. "Why not?" we both asked. "Because I'm scared." he said. The funny thing is, everyone of our friends and colleagues who have seen him in action have commented on how great he does with younger kids...even babies. He is a natural. One day, he is going to be an amazing father.

So, in a matter of three minutes, his emotions went from puzzlement, then to happiness, then to worry. I stopped recording at that point, but the story doesn't end here.  What happened next is what I found to be very interesting and what I would guess is an Aspie trait...but I could be wrong - it might just be a 12 year old trait, or maybe just a typical response to big changes.  Who knows?

Over the course of the next few weeks, we called my aunt and uncle first to share the news (I finally was able to keep my promise), then my folks, had a doctor's visit, told a select few friends, and planned on how we would tell my sisters and Jane's family. With each phone call Grant was thrilled to share the news. His worry seemed to have subsided back into excitement.

As the seasons began to change, Grant started complaining about a headache. I attributed it to the pressure changes and seasonal issues. The leaves were falling, the rain came and went, and the temperatures fluctuated often. His demeanor was also changing with Mother Nature. A week or so went by, and his headaches continued. During this time, Jane and I began to realize Farren may not make it to full term. With our worries, even though we tried to remain positive and lighthearted around Grant, added to the mix, it was pretty clear Grant was experiencing a myriad of emotions.

Grant took it upon himself to find a diagnosis for his constant headaches. One day he had a brain tumor, the next he thought his scratched glasses were the cause. Another day he chalked it up to falling asleep a half hour later than usual, and the next he blamed the soccer ball that he headed at recess one day. He stayed with the brain tumor for a while and it was at this point I took him to see the doctor.

When the doctor entered the examining room, she had already been briefed by me about the many changes going on in our lives. She asked the typical questions, probed the typical orifices,and examined the typical things you examine. Diagnosis: no brain tumor. Headaches related to tension. Almost immediately, the 500 pound weight was lifted from this little boy's shoulders.

Over the next few days, his headaches were disappearing, but so was something else; Farren. After three visits to the doctor's office, it became more apparent that Farren would not get to see me cry rivers of happy tears when she arrived sometime in mid-2014. Once faced with the realization, we decided we should inform Grant. As heavy as the conversation was, the little guy handled it quite well. Although relieved, his empathy for our loss was heartfelt and amazingly sincere for a 12 year old Aspie; however, in the end, I believe he was more relieved than sad - which we explained to him was perfectly normal.

Although Farren Delaney never made it into my arms, in the short time she was with us she taught us more than we could have learned in years of experience. In addition to my wife's life changing lessons, and my realization of where I am in my life and where I want to be in the near future, she taught us that Grant is still a young guy who may not always get the correct diagnosis from WebMd, but that he will persevere and he is a well grounded individual who is very empathetic and pretty deep for a 12 year old Aspie.

We won't try again, which was a difficult decision for both Jane and I to make, but after realizing the Universe has other plans for us, such as focusing on raising a child who will grow up to be someone very special to the world, we figured it was best to quit while we were ahead. That and we only have six more years to go before Grant is off to college and Jane and I can vacation in south France without having to explain to a young boy why only the bottoms of the bathing suits are worn over there! 

Disclaimer...(Yes, its a repeat of the last one...but the blog above is new!) First, let me say that I am not a specialist in Asperger's Syndrome, nor do I play one on TV. What I write or say are strictly my own personal observations and beliefs, so please do not sue me because I said something that made you do something that caused a misdiagnosis, or created a problem, or made you do something stupid. Have accountability, go see a professional, and leave my finances alone...besides, you really wouldn't get much anyway, so its probably not worth your time to call the lawyer on the back of the phone book to see if you have a case. Spend that time more wisely, like figuring out how to subscribe to my blog...and don't ask me about that because I'm not even sure how it works! Seriously, though, if some of the things I say seem like they sound very familiar in your family, set up an appointment with a true professional. While you are waiting for their callback, please, continue reading and leave a note!

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