I have felt for a long time compelled to share this part of our story with you…I hope it is an encouragement to someone.
As if raising children isn’t hard enough, being given a child that is extra_________ (you fill in the blank!) is difficult. Of course each person is unique and different and wired in their own intrinsic way. Of course all the things that are difficult about who we are can become our strengths. I’m absolutely not complaining. But I do know that my second born brought me to my knees in so many ways. From birth he was fussy, sensitive and hard to figure out. I won’t go into the nitty gritty but that’s the short of it. For a long while I figured it was because he was a boy. Having grown up with sisters, boys were still somewhat a mystery since I’d not grown up with any in my house.
After walking through some serious post partum depression and getting the help I needed, I began to realize that this boy had unique challenges that weren’t just about being a boy. Gentle words from my sister, who is a teacher, and from others prompted me to dig further. I was so fearful of my son being labeled something that maybe he was and maybe he wasn’t. I didn’t want an excuse for his difficult behavior, I wanted tools to help him be successful at coping with life. I didn’t want a badge for him to wear that said “I’m _____”. I wanted him to feel like he could deal with life on a day to day basis and have some fun along the way. Not much fun was being had. Our social life was dictated by what we felt like he could handle.
Two years of occupational therapy proved very helpful. We slowly forged a way forward and learned ways to help make life work better for him. There were still many days I’d like both him and I to forget. But there were finally some good days intermingled. We made many changes, big and small, to help him. We gained tools and understanding for our complex little boy.
We resolved that things were as good as they would likely be when we were done with OT. Last summer a different treatment approach came across my radar from a friend. It was something that wouldn’t be covered by insurance and that would cost a lot of money. It might help as it had been paramount in helping my friends’ son but there would be no guarantee. It was in the realm of alternative medicine which I was already very open to. I did a lot of reading and research into the field and practice of cranial osteopathy.
Since our son was nearing the age where most neurological pathways are formed and made for life, we decided that we would see if this would help bring about any increase in his ability to navigate life and cope with all the sensory input that came his way. His challenge had been (since birth) that as life came at him through the five senses, the brain signals got mixed up and proved really overwhelming for him a lot of the time. This led to very difficult behavior. That is a super simplified explanation of Sensory Processing Disorder.
As with any medical profession, the quality of any provider varies a great deal. In our extensive search, we were deciding between a world respected Osteopathic physician in California, where we would move for a month for treatment. Or one on Whidbey Island, a ferry ride away from our home. We decided to try the one near home first.
We were cautiously optimistic that this would improve our son’s (and in turn our family’s) life.
After a couple of treatments (that were calm, non-invasive and brief), we were nothing short of in awe of what we watched taking place in our son. We talked with tears several nights as we tried to understand and explain what was taking place. As she worked in such a skilled and gentle fashion on the plates (bones) surrounding the brain, his brain and body were able to function in a way they never had before. Messages and sensory input were getting processed in the way they were intended to.
There is no possible way for me to explain to you the blessing and gift this transformation has been for us all. We have watched him blossom and delight us all. It has amazed us. We will be forever grateful for the piece of our son that we’ve seen shine as he has been so much more able to cope with daily life.
As my mom always says “God never wastes pain”.
While Caleb’s story and life have brought great challenge to us and been at times more than we felt equipped to handle, it really has shaped our family mold and not in a bad way. His presence in our family is so full of purpose. He has bred compassion and patience in great measure. He has cultivated creativity and shown us how to think outside the box. He has taught me that there is almost always another way to do something.
I am tremendously grateful to be his mother. He has and will continue to show me a great deal about life. I read this post from an author I deeply admire and sobbed I was so moved. I want to be able to be sensitive to the uniqueness of each child I’ve been entrusted with the way Sally is.
My prayer since his birth is that he would live a life like his namesake, Caleb in the Old Testament. That he would be a courageous boy who is willing to tell the truth and go against the grain to stand for what is right.
Here is a picture to tide you over till I get all his birthday photos loaded….we had a stellar day celebrating this six year old!