“Don’t lay him down or jostle him in any way, he’s just eaten,” I’d warn the unsuspecting loved one who just had to hold my baby boy at that moment. Then, of course, came the dirty looks suggesting that she had held babies before and why was I being such a know-it-all.
“Whoosh,” smelly, white liquid gushed from his mouth and covered her entire front side in sticky vomit.
“Yep,” I’d think to myself, “that is why I said that,” as I went to retrieve my now sticky baby boy in need of a bath and to be refed.
So this was our introduction to letting family and friends know that our twin babies were not exactly like other babies – those ones that come out at 40 weeks gestation and not 32 weeks. Among other things, the twins both had severe reflux which required special handling in their feeding routines – including keeping them still and upright for at least half an hour after eating.
As the years went by, my reputation as overprotective mother became even more pronounced. I insisted my children did not have to be physical with relatives when they did not want to: “No Auntie he does not have to kiss you and she does not have to climb into your lap no matter how much you wish it to be so.” Of course, I would try to explain why I felt this was important to their development, but like the adults in those Charlie Brown specials, I’m sure it just came off as “wa-wa-wawa”.
Well, you can just imagine the reception when I told the family that our daughter had a language delay and most likely Auditory Processing Disorder. They simply didn’t believe it. I was just being that overprotective mother who didn’t want to just let my children be. “She would come around in her own time,” they thought, “all this effort on speech therapy and occupational therapy was a waste.” Not to mention the fact that I used it as an excuse to not make her stay at large gatherings for long periods of time.
Still, I never let other people’s opinions change the way I reared my own children. I knew I was being responsible and doing the best for them. Heck, I researched everything and put every ounce of my heart and soul into being the best mother I could be for them.
Eventually the family came around. They started to see that maybe I wasn’t this crazy, over-protective mother they had made me out to be. Truthfully, I think having the “expert opinions” of others made them more open to the idea that maybe I was onto something true. Here it wasn’t just me saying these things, but people with degrees in specialty areas were saying it too. (Yes, you detect a note of sarcasm here because I hate that people think you need a degree to know something, but that’s another story.)
I don’t harbor any ill feelings towards the family members and friends that did not accept that my children had any special needs or who did not approve at first of my parenting style. It is only human psychology to try adamantly to not accept something that is hard to accept; if I went through quasi-panic attacks coming to terms with my children’s needs, how could I expect them not to have their own problems in accepting it as well. It is a process after all, and all those in our children’s lives have to go through their own process as well.