Becoming a mom at 40-something can be a the most rewarding thing ever but it can also be a challenge for a variety of reasons. It can be such joy and a big adjustment for a mom of any age, really.
I became Ike's mom at age 42 when we adopted him internationally, in 2009. He was just 10 months old and so small. So precious and adorable. He was the perfect baby. I had a tough time adjusting to life as a new mom of an active 10 month old who hit the ground 'running'. From day one, he was pulling up on furniture, cruising, crawling like lightning and by 12 months he really was walking and practically running. He has always been physically agile and strong. (He breezed through the various class levels at Gymboree as a toddler!) It was a challenge after working hard as a childless career woman for 22 years to suddenly find myself as a stay at home mom, but it was a great time to bond with my baby, discovering the joys of being his mama and watching him with awe as he reached every milestone.
Like many later-in-life moms who've adopted internationally - I suffered a bit with Post Adoption Depression (PAD) for awhile but through the help of some friends, my husband, my faith and time, I got through it. Going back to work after a year off was a lifesaver for me, really. To some this may sound kind of cold - it's not that I wanted to "get away from my child" - I needed more adult interaction, to be productive and using my critical thinking skills, and to have a sense of self outside of being a mom. Although Ike attended gymboree, library groups, play dates etc. - I felt he needed more. He exhibited signs of being very intelligent and I felt he needed a bit of structured stimulation and regular daily social interaction. This has proven to be very good for Ike. He has thrived in his daycare with the sort of preschool prep cirriculum they provide - we are told he is one of the brightest kids in the class.
During the past 2 years since Ike came into our lives, (especially the year I stayed home though) I struggled, often times questioning whether it was just me or if Ike's behavior was a bit off...or different than other kids. Other kids to me, always seem fairly laid back, so easy to deal with. Other kids seem to just be more content, sitting and eating or playing. Ike has always seemed to have moments of difficulty, to be unusually stubborn or unable to control his impulses, never stops touching everything around him, never stops moving, can't sit still for more than a couple minutes during a meal at home or when dining out. It's like he is constantly wired. His doctor has always said "he's a busy, curious boy", as has my husband, they both wrote it off to age, or stages of growth, intelligence and just being an energetic child. I have often thought there was more to it. Something wasn't quite right. I know from our pre-adoption classes that many internationally adopted kids have issues but we were always assured Ike was healthy and had no problems, no known early issues.
Then I began reading about Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), and recognizing some of Ike's "quirks" as signs he may have some sensory issues. A big red flag is the continued, constant drooling - well beyond the stage of teething, as is the fact that he constantly has something in his mouth, still at age 3. He is overwhelmed when too many kids get up close into his personal space. There are times he can't sit in circle time and just relax or lay on his cot for a nap as the other kids do - he has to run around or keep moving around the room and sort of playing his own games. We are being called in for conferences at the daycare over Ike's "behavior issues" that are now surfacing and growing more frequent. (Their recent turnover of teachers has alot to do with this and we are trying to make them realize this, too!) These are just a few things that may be signs of SPD.
I also have been talking with a friend at work who has a child going through Occupational Therapy (OT) for SPD. We've been comparing notes and many things I tell her about Ike remind her of her son when he was 3 and just being diagnosed. In reading and learning more about SPD and discussing with my husband, he is now starting to understand and believe there is more to it than Ike just being a super active kid, or me just being a sensitive new mom. I believe my mom's intuition has been correct, and Ike is struggling and needs my help now more than ever. I read that kids with SPD can often be trapped in a world of sensory overload or on the flip side - in a world where they can't get enough sensory stimulation and are frequently misunderstood or misdiagnosed as having ADD, hyperactivity, or just being a 'bad kid'.
So after many debates, discussions and convincing our Ped Dr that we needed a referral and from many discussions with our daycare - we are going tomorrow afternoon to have Ike evaluated for SPD at an Occupational Therapists' practice that specializes in sensory issues.
I'm experiencing a range of emotions about all of this. I feel some sense of relief - that there may be help on the way for Ike. I feel a bit of sadness that this may be something that Ike has to deal with for the rest of his life. I am nervous that this may be the beginning of issues throughout his school years - as we try to advocate for Ike and help him deal with teachers, social issues and self-confidence, and his academic success. I feel protective of Ike, hoping this isn't going to be another thing to make him feel different than other kids. I want the best for my son - I want everything in the world for him - happiness, joy, laughter, love, success and peace. I don't want him to suffer in silence--unable to adequately communicate what he is going through - so I know we are doing the right thing.
I am praying for my son and praying that everything works out for him. I fear having to remove him from daycare (or their deciding to discontinue his enrollment there) and seek care from a private nanny or caregiver - I am not so sure that is the best option for Ike for social reasons. I really hope to be able to keep working, for financial reasons and my own well-being. So if you are spiritual, please say a prayer for Ike.
Thank you for listening.