Friday, September 6, 2013

A Glimpse of Samuel John

Sunday, December 2nd 2001 dawned overcast and cold in our upstate New York home, pretty much par for the course in that part of the country.  I was bustling around trying to get our family of 3 ready for church. Being one week of shy of eight months pregnant and having a sickly 17 month old, I felt maxed out.  My husband had gone back to college and was working full time.  Money was so tight, I had yet to buy anything for the new baby girl who was due to arrive in 5 weeks. Serenity Joy Skiff was to be her name.  Serenity in the midst of chaos, Joy coming from sorrow.  There had been much sorrow during this, my second pregnancy.  September 11 had happened a few short months before. We had family near both the New York attack and the Pentagon.  Blessedly, they were unscathed, but like all of America we were still in shock and mourning the loss of so many lives, our sense of security, and the death of the illusion of invincibility.
Personally, our marriage was stressed to the point of almost breaking.  Between classes and work my husband was hardly ever home and when he was we argued (this was before we knew about Aspergers and we were struggling with what seemed to be insurmountable communication issues)  I was stuck at home with a very sick 17 month old and not many friends or family.  I was a stranger in a strange land.  Despite it all, I was very excited for the upcoming birth of our second child, our child of promise.

After I fed Paul breakfast, I bent to pick him up to give him his iron drops.  Then I felt a pop and my water gushed all over our kitchen floor.  I called out to my husband that there was a change of plans.  We weren't going to church.  Instead we were going to Walmart to buy diapers, wipes, powder, onsies, etc. and then we would be heading to the hospital because we were gonna have a baby.  I called the MD and off to Walmart we went. Walking through Walmart, with your water broken and having contractions is NOT an experience I would recommend.  They don't have a special queue for laboring mothers (Walmart this may be something you want to do, just saying) so you are stuck in the regular old queue that on the best of days feels like it takes eternity to go through, this was not the best of days.  I was pretty sure my baby was going to be born, grow up and graduate high school by the time we checked out.  Of course that could have been the contractions talking.  

Unfortunately, my contractions stopped completely after we left Walmart and I would not deliver my darling baby until the next day. December 3, 2001.  The MD was running late, my husband was sick as a dog, laying next to me on a cot, and I was feeling great, singing Christmas songs with the nurses, when my baby made their appearance (this is the glory of an epidural.  After having done a natural birth the first time around, I was not going down that particular road EVER again.  Feel free to judge me;)

Sam, almost one year
Once our beautiful baby entered the world it became abundantly clear the ultrasound was a liar, liar pants on fire.  We didn't have a baby girl at all but a beautiful baby boy, with the roundest head I've ever seen and the most piercing blue eyes you can imagine. He was perfect, and he was most definitely NOT a Serenity Joy.  Unfortunately, we were not prepared to name a male baby specimen so we had to pray over night what his name was supposed to be.  The next morning , I knew what his name was to be, Samuel John Skiff.

Sam is now a few months shy of 12 years old.  He is a creative soul and a bit of a perfectionist.  He recently took four months building a HUGE Lego X-Wing fighter.  He finally finished it and as he was showing it to us a large portion fell apart.  Though he was frustrated, he didn't give up.  He went right back to building it!   Patience is not my greatest virtue and tedious tasks drive me to distraction!  Sam definitely did not inherit this kind of patience and perfectionism from me!

Sam is our only child not on the ASD spectrum. Being the NT sibling to one child who isn't NT (neuro-typical) comes with it's own set of challenges and complications.  Sam has four brothers and a father on the spectrum.  He could have become bitter because in our house he is the different one, the one on whom more responsibility falls, the one who isn't the squeaky wheel.  Instead, he has become a compassionate, strong,  mature young man.  I am so proud of the man I see growing in the boy.   He looks out for his brothers,  explains things they may not understand to them with great patience and sweetness, he is always looking out for the under dog, even at school.  
 It can be so easy to over look the child who always does his homework without being reminded, who does not meltdown at the slightest noise, who remembers to shower and brush his teeth without constant reminding.  As a parent, it is my responsibility to make sure I don't allow him to fall into the background, his needs drowned out by the much louder and noticeable needs of his brothers. I try to make special time for Sam, to make sure I listen intently when he talks, that he has a sounding board for the frustrations he does experience as our only NT child.   I never want Sam to feel he is carrying more than his share or that he is under appreciated.  For this reason, we always pay him for the chores he does above and beyond the regular chores all the boys are required to do.
 He still carries more than his fair share simply because he can.  God has given him wide shoulders in every sense of the expression.   If it sounds like I'm bragging, I am. So often, I write about our four boys on the spectrum, their struggles and triumphs.   Today, I wanted to talk about our NT child, who is surrounded by the spectrum in our home.
 Sam the Merciful, Sam the Strong, Sam the Kind of Heart.  I love you Sam.
Sam almost 12

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