Autism Mum- by Anonymous
After a longer break than I’d like, I’ve finally got back around to posting these articles and stories up. This one is an anonymous post, it also serves as one of the pieces performed in Shattered at this years Edinburgh Fringe – Ash
I’m a natural blonde but the fair hair never really suited me. From the age of about 14, I have been a red head: that suits me. At once I wanted to stand out as a red warning sign does but like those signs warn others not to come too close and that worked for the most part. Of course, there are people who you can’t stop yourself letting in. You fall in love.
I fell for a handsome, pert-bottomed Irish man and the next thing I knew a couple of years had gone past and my head seems to be permanently down the toilet with morning, afternoon and evening sickness. Yep. I was well and truly pregnant. That was never in the life or love plan but smelling like semi digested sprouts (my major craving) and feeling like an empty sack of spuds I was still happy and still in love. One sunny Spring afternoon I fell in love with another fella in a different way. My son was born, over nine pounds of purplish pink ridiculousness with a flat yellow nose. I laughed when I saw him and he still makes me laugh everyday though I’m happy to report his looks have improved.
My little Pwdin didn’t suckle. Didn’t for sure but what I’ll never know is if he couldn’t or wouldn’t. Pumping away to get the boy his milk gave me a job to do stopped me from thinking for the five days we spent in the hospital trying and trying again to encourage the now pudgy pink one to meet us half way and suck at least a little. It was when we brought him home it hit. I couldn’t and wouldn’t and didn’t leave his side. In my exhausted state I was afraid that if I slept too deeply I would wake up to find that my boy never would again. I would sneak out of our bed after my husband was asleep and lie on the floor so that I wouldn’t sleep soundly. Dreams were tormented with false awakenings – always the same – I’d get up to greet my ray of sunshine only to find him cold and blue and stiff.
Wakefulness wasn’t a relief. I was terrified that if I carried my precious bundle more than a few steps I would drop him. I could picture it – his perfect head the glass vase in Citizen Kane. Red rose petals of blood. If I kissed him I could “see” burning marks on his skin where bacteria were swarming. Everything had to be cleaned. Everything was dirty. I was dirty. I’d scrub my hands and wash them in sterilising fluid then douse them with alcohol gel. My skin hardened and cracked like old, old leather. Bending a finger was painful. The doctor told me I had peurperal psychosis – an extreme form of postnatal depression.
Once breast feeding was at an end – my little Pwdin decreed that by almost biting through a nipple when he was poorly with a tummy virus – I finally took the prescription my doctor gave me to the pharmacy and began treatment. I have always been prone to depression and have been on and off antidepressant medication since adolescence but now my life had changed. Anxiety has displaced the apathy towards my very being that I experienced before becoming a mother. My son is severely autistic and I still worry myself out of sleep night after night pondering what life will hold for him after we, his parents, are gone. Depressive malaise has been replaced by panic attacks, palpitations and sometimes crippling fear. In that heart-pounding panic though is something vital, something I never experienced before motherhood and though, at times in may bring me to knees, I know the long years of numbness are over.