In December 2016, when Noah was 13 months old, I wrote a piece for PALS called “Normal-Mama Fear or Loss-Mama Fear,” in which I reflected on my fear of leaving Noah in someone else’s care. At that point, I’d only been away from him for more than a few hours on a handful of occasions, and had only left him in the care of my husband and my in-laws, largely because the idea of other people taking care of him was terrifying to me.
A lot has changed in the past two years (and change). He’s been in daycare for over a year now, attends half-day preschool two days a week, and a close friend of mine has watched him for an hour (once).
One thing that hasn’t changed is wondering if my other fears about Noah are normal-mama* fears or loss-mama fears (or something in between)…
Truthfully, I’m still uncomfortable leaving Noah with people who are not my husband or in-laws. I adore his daycare provider and preschool teacher (and her para-professional), but I do sometimes find myself worrying about him even in their care. With his oral-motor issues, I fear choking. I also worry about him being bullied because he is neurodiverse and kids can be dreadful to kids who are “different”. He’s non-verbal, so I worry about the possibility of someone abusing him. I take him to/from preschool (rather than allowing him to ride the bus) because I fear that something will happen to him on the trip to/from school.
Noah had surgery earlier this month to place tubes in his ears and remove his adenoids.
He’s suffered from recurrent ear infections since September (and due to his sensory processing issues, his perception of pain is abnormal – by the time he was showing any signs of being his, he was very, very sick) and was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea in February.
As we were working with the hospital’s autism support team, which offers support to patients with autism and their families, one of the things I communicated to the team was that I might be a little more on edge about the surgery than some parents are because in addition to this being my child’s first surgical procedure, he is also our rainbow baby and I wasn’t sure if my apprehension about the surgery was typical of all parents or if it was being amplified by the fact that his brother never left the hospital. The psychologist I spoke with assured me that care would be taken to ensure that Noah and his father and I were as comfortable as possible on the day of his surgery, and they held true to their word. With the exception of his reaction to waking up from anesthesia – which was about as unpleasant as we were anticipating it would be due to his sensory challenges, particularly those surrounding medical care – the day could not have run more smoothly.
While I do still have fears regarding my son – and I suspect I always will – they do not cause me the anxiety that they used to.
Noah loves both preschool and daycare. Long past are the days of tears at drop-off (for the most part – like most toddlers, he has his days), replaced by huge grins and running into the arms of his teachers/daycare provider. He is a happy, good-natured, loving little boy with a zeal for life and the sweetest little giggle I’ve ever heard. I may be a loss mama, but I’m also the mama of an amazing little boy that brings so much joy into our lives.
*As with my prior piece on this topic, I intend no offense by using the term “Normal-Mama”. Loss-Mama is my “normal”, but Not-Loss-Mama didn’t work for me.