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Friday, January 11, 2013

Anything but Crying

For me, there are two states of being Janey's mother.  There's the state I'm in when she is not in a crying spell, and there is the state I'm in when she is.  The non-crying Janey state does pretty well.  I'm far from perfect, but I feel most days like I can be a decent enough Autism Mother.  I accept her, I have fun with her, and I do my best to help her learn and navigate the world.  But when Crying Janey shows up, I don't do nearly as well.  

I've never been great with crying.  Both Freddy and Janey were colicky as babies (Freddy worse than Janey) and it was hell.  Pure, pure hell.  You have this sweet, helpless little baby that screams for hours and hours and hours every day, and you can't do a thing to make them happy.  You start to feel completely useless, like the worst parent on earth.  The best thing in the world is when they outgrow that stage.  

But with Janey, in some ways, she's still colicky.  It's like colic in that most of the time, we have absolutely no idea what sets her off.  We can try a lot of things, but most of them don't work.  You just have to wait it out. The big difference is that she can move around, can throw fits.  A baby doesn't have much of a schedule, but Janey has to go to school---I have to dress her, drive her, pick her up, get her fed, get her to bed---all regular parenting stuff, but when she's screaming endlessly, all very hard to do.  

The last few nights have been crying nights, as you might have guessed.  The car rides home both days were extremely tough.  I hate to drive, and when I have to drive with a sound like a siren from the back seat, the sound of my daughter being completely inconsolable, well, let's just say it's not fun.  I made up a little song the first crying night, partly in hopes that it would distract Janey and partly just to keep my sanity.  It went "Crying in the car makes Mama tired (repeat three times), Please don't cry in the car!"  Janey learned it immediately, as she does with songs, and managed to sing it while crying.  That didn't help much.

When I got home last night, I asked Tony if he could go in early today so he could come home early and be the one to pick up Janey.  Well, I didn't exactly ask him.  I demanded it of him.  I didn't speak in the tone of a Good Wife.  I spoke in the tone of a Very Bad Demanding Rhymes with Witchy Wife.  Tony understood, but I don't like to be like that.  Janey continued her crying most all of the night.  We did everything we could think of to make her feel better---she ate a ton, she used the potty (as sometimes constipation is a crying trigger, once in a while), I held her and comforted her, we turned off the lights and made the house as calm as possible, we used all our tricks.  And still she screamed.  And then I said "I need you to stop crying"  I didn't say it in a Good Autism Mother voice, a voice that is calm and soothing and understanding and endlessly patient.  I said it in a Bad Autism Mother voice, a voice that is letting a hint of the anger and frustration and tiredness and endlessness in.  I don't think Janey noticed the difference, at that point, but I did.  It's not how I want to be.  

I can handle this autism gig, most days.  I can accept it.  I can even sort of a little embrace it, sometimes.  But when Janey cries, and can't tell us why, and it lasts for hours or sometimes days, that is not easy.  That is so far beyond not easy it's hard to even describe.  And of course, the one it's hardest on is Janey.  I feel for her.  I would do just about anything to make her feel better.  And I have no idea how to do that.  

She did eventually calm down last night, and was actually happy by the time she went to sleep. That's the hint of progress here.  She sometimes does calm down before days have gone by.  She was mostly okay this morning, although she screamed a little as I was leaving her at school, but her teacher did a great job with calming her down.  I have to believe it's getting easier.  I have to.


audball said...

I couldn't help but notice that your entry about Nutella was right before this recent crying episode?

I'm not 100% sure about this, but my DD used to have the worst, most emotional episodes right before a big "leap" in skills or behavior advancement.

I'm not sure if the crying happened Thursday (?) night - the night of the Nutella incident or much after, but Janey's Nutella adventure is a *big* deal! (I didn't comment on the entry, but it's fully of insights on just how much Janey knows and takes in - lots!). Could it be possible that the overwhelming emotion is part of this growth? Sometimes crying is just crying (tired, upset tummy, etc.), but sometimes it's marking being on the verge of something.

Maybe putting together a "crying diary" would help you figure out what the triggers/antecedents are? We did it with our DD and that's when we figured out the pattern (big leap->emotional outburst->big leap becomes "routine" behavior).

audball said...

I forgot to add that my DH and I have different triggers with each kid. With me, I can't take my DS whining and my DD crying. With my DH, he can't take my DS's "backtalk" and DD whining. We know each other's tolerances and trade off - frequently! Hugs to you in dealing with crying - it's so hard on everyone. Hopefully, you can find a way to take a much needed break and at least build up some "reserves".

Suzanne said...

I hope very much you are right! It's certainly possible. I think when Janey makes a leap cognitively, it's sometimes hard on her, because she realizes more how different she is, and all she can't do. That is just guessing on my part, as she can't tell us things like that, but it might be the case. It's interesting about how you and your husband have different triggers and trade off! That's true here too. It's the one of the ways to stay sane, as I know you know!! I just wrote about last night---a very, very, very tough nights. As always, it's so good to have people out there that get it! Thanks!!!

1 out of 64 said...

You are a great Autism Mother.