Breaking bread and bridges

June 9, 2010 at 9:43 am 12 comments

     I remember the day I found out I was pregnant – I was scared to death. As in complete panic freak-out of epic proportions. I’m not really sure why, although I wonder if my sub-conscious self knew more about what was to come than I realized.

     Then I found a wonderful little community of also due in April, 2001 mommies on a web bulletin board. These people became my tribe, my friends, my confidants, and those that understood my not-so-irrational fear about becoming a parent. We bonded to the point of talking about getting together in real life on the kids’ fifth birthdays.

     Then the babies came. Mine earlier than almost everyone else’s. Once we all reconvened weeks later, it became clear to me that my tribe no longer felt like my own. It didn’t come from them; they were as supportive as can be. This was certainly self-imposed, but it felt like the beginning of a long few years of distance and differentness from other parents. Our experiences were so different starting from birth that I simply couldn’t see how to bridge what felt like a huge gulf between us. What should have been an experience of joy, excitement and happiness was for us a time of nothing short of terror. There weren’t moments of enjoying this little bundle that had arrived – instead it was wondering if this little bundle was going to survive each day.

     I stuck with the group for a few years, fading in and out as I felt comfortable. But it was just too painful as the gulf continued to widen while our children grew. Their kids were catching colds and eating solid food while mine was making the rounds of neurologists and feeding therapists. There no longer seemed to be any commonalities between us beyond birthdates.

     Finally, it became too big an ocean for me to bridge, and I disappeared for good, only to be contacted by one of them again when her younger daughter started to show signs of autism. She and I formed a tenuous new relationship and have kept in touch via facebook, where I notice all the other “Born in April, 2001” mommies seem to reside, still friends, still supporting each other like friends do.

     And I find myself wondering once again where I fit. I still think of these caring, wonderful women as an important part of my life, but they also represent such incredible pain to me I wonder if one can ever really go home again. I wonder if a bridge, so completely broken, can ever be rebuilt.

Entry filed under: autism. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

We can’t always get what we want, but sometimes we get what we need Is it any wonder I’m finding gray hair?

12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. T$  |  June 9, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Sorry, don’t think the bridge would take you back to the same place anyway. The difference between you and other parents is the equivalent of treating Ping as our child and trying to find commonality with parents of children. The gap is too big.

  • 2. Jen  |  June 9, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    I completely understand why you pulled away. I did the same with Ellie. I also have the unique perspective of having one aht walks with the crowd and one that marches to her own ASD beat.

    What I realized was that it really wasn’t about me. I lost a valuable resource for my kids and that made me jump back on to Ellie’s board and I talk about Ellie all the time on April.. Do they understand? Not always, but they want to understand and help and that is so empowering.

    All of our kids, typical or not, have issues. While Ellie’s are ASD related, they are no more important or take more of my focus then Lacey’s. They are who they are, as a group very diverse in their needs and issues. I can’t help but feel that C, and you, would fit right in.

    We are here if you need us and always will be.

  • 3. Cheryl D.  |  June 9, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    What a beautiful, but sad post. I can totally relate to it. I remember feeling horrible in the playgroup when the other kids seemed so different than my daughter. It was really hard. I think bridges can still be built, but the reality is that new ones are built with other moms who are going through the same thing.

  • 4. therocchronicles  |  June 9, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Yes, I too have pulled away and had people pull away from me after the diagnosis. I don’t know if the bridges can be rebuilt. In a way I think they can, but for me there is always a part of me that is on the side…and I don’t know if that’s self imposed or just the way it is. No matter how much people tell me “oh, my (typical) 5 year old does that too, it’s still vastly different. And they don’t get that. Only certain people do. I try to view the different groups of people I know for their different qualities, and I let those relationships that really are flat-lining go. There really are only so many hours in a day.

    None of it is every easy though, as relationships between women never are.

  • 5. Lisa  |  June 9, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    I can look back and say “those people were important in my life at that stage” and maybe, occasionally, one person will stay with me past that stage. High School friends, 20-something share house friends, University friends, work friends, parents of young kids friends, pre-school mums friends, parents of the kids’ friends, linked by autism friends. And, spookily, friend from college days, haven’t seen in 20 years, recently reconnected on fb and discovered she’s got an autistic son friend.

    I love the way friends come and go with the flow of life.

  • 6. robinaltman  |  June 9, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    Awwww… I’m sad. I think you could still contact the original baby group, but I can also see how you would feel weird. For the record, I always feel comfortable on your blog, and I love that you laugh at my dumb jokes and teach me so much. Maybe the commonalities of being a woman and a parent would be enough with your old friends, too.

  • 7. abbyschrad  |  June 9, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    We’ve also found ourselves in a similar position. We were eager to raise our girls (Hallie and Olivia) as part of a communal circle with the friends we’d made on our block who were having kids at about the same time. And then they came way too early (almost 4 years ago today), we lost Olivia, and Hallie came home having issues (and developing new ones along the way). We quickly found that we had little in common with these neighbors: they were eager to get their kids into the best preschools to fastrack them to the Ivy leagues. We were eager to get Hallie to chew and swallow a new food without vomiting; to say anything at all; to make eye contact with us; and to play appropriately. They thought we were neurotic, helicopterish, and that special needs were contagious. They nearly came out and said that they would have let nature run its course with her, rather than risk having a special needs child. The upshot though is this: we would never have had parenting styles that matched theirs anyway. Their belief is that kids should raise themselves while their parents socialize (or work). Our view is that parents should play with and nurture their kids and interact with them. Hallie’s autism and health concerns make these processes all the more critical, but these things did not change who we were/are as parents. Instead, they have made us more conscious of the parenting process and in this way may be a bit of a blessing in disguise.

  • 8. Jen  |  June 10, 2010 at 6:11 am

    I’ve been thinking more about this and wanted to add….in a way being part of a neuro-typical group has pushed me with Ellie in more ways than I would have…..for example last year, all of her peers on the board were swimming underwater. She was not. Knowing that she was “behind” pushed me to work with her more….and now she swims like a fish. It can be as trivial as silly bands (sensory nightmare that she now wears happily) or as important as math and reading.

    Had I posted the same question on my ASD board, I would have gotten a ton of responses of 5/6’s year olds not going under water and how that was OK, and would have not pushed at all.

    Anyway, food for thought.

  • 9. statia  |  June 10, 2010 at 11:39 am

    I’m sure this would depend on the group, but like you, I joined a similar group. All of us wanted kids in the summer of 01. One by one, they started to get pregnant. Some had minor fertility issues. And I, well, I had massive ones. I didn’t get pregnant. I ended up going through a divorce, and then going through fertility treatments AGAIN, after remarrying. Through this time, I faded in and out of the group, depending on how I felt. And honestly, they were always supportive. I met up with a few of them last year, after not having seen any of them for years.

    Thankfully, because of facebook, we all still communicate regularly, and it’s nice. I love having them in my life.

  • 10. akbutler  |  June 12, 2010 at 9:44 am

    I understand completely. I think this happens in “real” life as well when you have kids with special needs, not just in “virtual” life. While I am lucky to have a few close friends with typical kids who understand us, I’ve had to let go of those who don’t, and surround myself with those who do.
    Maybe at a point later on I can reconnect, but now it’s just too hard. Our challenges are different and I can’t relate to them, nor can they to me.
    We just started a support group in our town for parents of ASD kiddos, and it’s made a world of difference to be in a group of those who “get it”.


  • 11. fiona2107  |  June 21, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    You can hang with me!

  • 12. Elizabeth Channel  |  July 3, 2010 at 9:45 am

    I so relate with how you feel. I’ve pulled away from making friends since I moved because I don’t want to “explain” why E is different, try to find a way for other children to accept him, etc. It was so much easier with people who knew us from birth. Now, starting over is exhausting and so trying. Yet I also was one who pulled away from a friend who moved years and years ago whose child was diagnosed with autism way before mine. Your post reminds me that I really should reconnect with her and tell her about my own life and child…


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