Thursday, April 7, 2011

A letter to my daughter

My darling Munchkin,

As I lay with you in my arms tonight holding you tight as you needed your "huggles", I delighted in the feel of my arms wrapped tightly around you. I looked at your angelic little face and drifted back to a time when I wasn't so blessed to be able to touch you...

When you were born, you were not content in my arms. Where I saw other mothers feeding their babies and watched them bond, I wondered why it was that you were so uncomfortable in my arms. I so desperately craved you to look up in my eyes as you fed and feel that connection that others seemed to find so easily. No matter what way I positioned you, there was never that ease as you strained away from my touch...

As you got older, the only way you were "comfortable" on my knee was to be facing away from me. As soon as you had finished the last drop of your bottle you slid off my knee like I'd electrocuted you. I was envious of the other mothers stories of how their babies would reach out and touch their faces and plant sloppy kisses on their mouths. I can admit now how jealous I was of that which others took for granted. I took comfort that you wanted to sleep in my bed with my arm across your chest even though you wouldn't let me put my hand on you. I know now that you were seeking the pressure the weight of my arm gave you but it was something that I valued greatly.

I remember reading a quote just after the penny dropped when I realised you had autism. I burst out crying as it touched home to me. It was from Helen Keller and it read "Love is like a beautiful flower which I may not touch, but whose fragrance makes the garden a place of delight just the same." I decided though that I needed to be able to touch you, I wanted to be able to touch you...

I spent countless hours with you sitting sideways on my stomach on the sofa, reading you book after book as you loved being read to. Slowly you grew to accept this as long as I wasn't trying to hold you there. I tried everything to desensitize you to the feel of my hands. As you watched your beloved Peppa Pig, I used the opportunity to stroke your feet briefly or to massage your arms. It took time but you got used to this routine and grew to like it. Every morning for half an hour before we got up, we would play the "name the animal game" and every time you did the sound I would tickle you for a brief second or two.

Holding your hand wasn't accepted by you at all. This made going out in public very difficult as you would pull away and then run to get away from me. We ended up only going out in the buggy as it was the only safe way to have you out. With the help of your tutors and the occupational therapist we worked tirelessly on getting you to put pressure on your tiny hands, rolling you over back and forth on your gym ball, making you "walk" forward on your hands to get your jigsaw pieces. We played so many games that involved touching that you didn't realise what we were doing, you just enjoyed the "game".

That almost seems like a lifetime ago now. Every time you put your hand in mine, or give me a hug and a kiss my heart feels like it will burst with happiness. You have no idea of the joy you bring to me my baby. These days you love for me to tickle your back, you give me amazing huggles ( your name for hugs/cuddles) and actively seek out contact with me. I love these moments and will never take them for granted I promise. To see you hold your friends hands makes my heart swell...

I do wish that you would let others hug you or give you a kiss though. It would make your grandparents very happy to get a big squeezy hug but the little ones you do give when asked are the small steps towards this goal. I'll be selfish and say that if you never have the ease of contact with another the way you do with me, I'll still be happy.

Thank you
Mom xxx

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