Buddy in Six Years

Buddy turns six years old this week. The idea baffles me. How could so much time have passed? How could he have changed so much?

Buddy’s conception wasn’t planned, but he was always wanted. Buddy was his own person from the first day, even if I didn’t know it yet. My morning sickness lasted for five months before I discovered that Buddy was allergic to citrus. I loved lemonade. The moment I stopped drinking it, the morning sickness left. He still can’t have citrus.

I craved chocolate milk above all else. He loves it. I used to buy or make jugs of it and just drink it all the time. I’m sure that if I kept chocolate in the house, he would do the same thing.

My pregnancy wasn’t easy. As soon as the morning sickness stopped, the premature labor started. I was in and out of the hospital as they repeatedly stopped my labor. I ended up on bedrest.

I love music, and I tend to have it playing all the time. I quickly learned that Buddy’s favorite music was Disturbed and Black Eyed Peas. I would feel him dance to them, and if the music stopped, he would kick me hard enough to bruise my ribs until I turned it back on. He still likes this kind of music.

When Buddy wasn’t born on his due date, the doctors became concerned. My contractions had finally stopped, but nothing could bring them back. After one week went by, I had an ultrasound. They warned me that the measurements were usually off by a pound and tended to overestimate how much the baby weighed. When they told me he measured at ten pounds, I wasn’t worried. My first son was 9 1/2 lbs, and my mother had large babies as well. Nine pounds would be easy.

They were wrong. The ultrasound under-measured. The extra week after the ultrasound added another pound onto that. Buddy was born, two weeks overdue, at just under twelve pounds.

I woke up at my usual time in the morning. I went to the bathroom and noticed that contractions were starting. Knowing how much time I had with my first pregnancy and wanting to be sure they weren’t fake, I lay down on my bed and watched America’s Got Talent until the pain got too bad to ignore.

I had planned for a water birth. My firstborn was with a birthing bar, as I had learned that giving birth on your back made it worse. My first son was natural, and I was determined that Buddy would be as well.

Water births are amazing. I was worried that it wouldn’t be as great as everyone said, but it was. The warm water soothed my pain away and lifted my belly, removing the pressure. I was in love… until my water broke. They found meuconium (baby poo) in it, so I had to get out or risk his breathing it in and getting pneumonia.

Pain hit me like a truck. I was trying to get onto my bed just as he was coming out, whether or not I was ready. The doctor noticed the change. I barely got onto my bed — on all fours– when she told me I had to stop, no time to lay down; Buddy was coming!

Buddy is still this way. He may take a while to do something — being born, walking, talking, electronics — but once he does it, he charges full steam.

The moment he was out, I collapsed onto the bed and rolled over. They cut the cord and gave him to me. I was completely and totally in love. He looked like a sumo wrestler (nurses called him as The Sumo Baby). I counted fingers and toes, ensuring he was perfect.

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They took him to clean him up, and he promptly peed. If the nurse got out of range, he would stop, then start again when the nurse got close. He’s been a little rascal from day one!

Cleaned and swaddled, I snuggled him to me. He immediately tried to nurse! In some ways, he’s so advanced from others his age. When we took him home, I had him leaning against me, when he suddenly sat up. Two days old and sitting up!

He started eating baby cereal almost immediately. I couldn’t keep up with his appetite. He thinned out but remained all muscle.

Buddy smiled easily, but I couldn’t get him to laugh. I tried for months, baffled. It was only when his brother stubbed his toe or something (I forget) that he giggled. Buddy’s brother became the only one who could make him laugh, and he had to be really silly to do it.

If laughing came slowly, talking was even slower. He said Mama, but then he stopped. After a while, he picked up no, then stopped. Juice. Stop. I knew something was different, but his brother is Gifted, so I thought maybe this was normal baby behavior. I shouldn’t worry. Our doctor agreed but wanted to keep an eye on it.

He wouldn’t crawl. He would scoot or Army crawl everywhere. He could pull himself into a standing position with those muscular arms of his, though. One day, he stood up, and I ran to get the camera. When I came back, he was gone. There was nowhere he could have gone. I checked anyway, making sure. I finally found him on the top of the bookshelf, asleep. He climbed ever since and started running shortly after. He never crawled.

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If I had known anything about Autism, my biggest clue was his odd behavior. As soon as he could sit and stay that way, he began lining things up, sorting them by color. When I first saw it, I thought his brother did it. It was only when I saw for myself that I believed it. I didn’t think this was important, so I didn’t mention it to the doctor. I assumed I had another intelligent child. Perhaps an artist!

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While he wouldn’t talk, he definitely wasn’t stupid. He could operate any technology he got his hands on. I still don’t know how he created his own YouTube playlist.

One day, I was desperately trying to teach Buddy a new word. I thought body parts would be easy, and tried to teach him “belly,” a word that made him smile. This time, he said “baby.” Well, it was a start! I enunciated it more clearly. Still, he said, “baby.” He rubbed my belly and smiled. “Baby.”

I sighed and tried not to be frustrated. It wouldn’t be so bad if I was preg— wait a minute. My period was due a few days ago… Buddy was right. I was pregnant with Lily. From that moment on, he would smile at my stomach, rub it, hum to it. He would laugh when she kicked him. The two were inseparable, best friends before she was born.

The first time Buddy had a meltdown, I was shocked and embarrassed. I didn’t understand why he was throwing a fit over getting the snacks he wanted. I had never seen a meltdown before. I just assumed he was throwing a tantrum.

I was crushed over the devastation he caused. He would sometimes stop, then cry over what he had done. Toys broken, books shredded, feces smeared on things, kicking, biting, pinching, hitting. I couldn’t understand. Tears were often shed by the both of us.

As mentioned here, he was four when he first started talking. When he went to school, I saw him blossom. I watched him mature. My little boy was disappearing. He would come home and patiently work with Lily, teaching her everything he knew.

He still doesn’t like to do things unless he is certain he could do it perfectly. He still has the occasional meltdown. He can now see it coming and tries to prevent it. He’ll go off by himself or let me know his ears are hurting.

I have learned that if I ask for a helper, he will cheerfully volunteer. This allows me to teach him things in a way that he doesn’t feel like he fails if he gets it wrong. He helps me mix batter and wash dishes. If I tell him to clean his toys, he sees them all and gets overwhelmed. If I ask for help cleaning his things up, he springs into action, especially if I direct him. “Let’s get all the books!” or “Where do your blocks go?”

He took his first shower today. His hair so so thick that I couldn’t put it off any longer. Both of his siblings take showers, but he hates anything on his head. I managed to calmly talk him through getting up to his belly button wet, but he wouldn’t go higher than that. I carefully got his hair wet and gently soaped up his hair.

He handled it all well, until I went to rinse it. He looked down for just a moment. Water got into his eye, and he lost it. He went as close to a meltdown as possible without actually having one, knowing that it could mean soap in his eye. I rinsed as fast as I could and pulled him out, wrapped him in a towel, and snuggled him to me. He recovered quickly.

Buddy has changed so much in the past two years. It’s been quite a journey — near strangling, Disney, school. He’s asking to go away to camp (which they won’t allow for a couple more years). He understands rewards and sequences (go to sleep, library, bookstore!). What do the next two years hold? With the first six years being so incredible and so eventful, what could possibly happen next?

I guess we’ll see!

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