Finding the right "cocktail" to make every hour a "Happy Hour".

Cruisin’ with Autism

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You know that feeling of going on vacation where you just picture yourself with your toes in the sand, drink in your hand, peaceful and relaxed? Yeah, me neither, it’s a dream of mine. However, we took the short stacks on their first cruise. We were excited and nervous. How would Brayden do on the ship? How will he eat? We can barely go to a restaurant and we have to bring his own food. The ship is a floating restaurant! Will he fall over the side of the ship trying to get into the water? All things Autism parents have to think about. We just think “differently”. And we are on guard…all the time.

We arrived and saw the Autism on the Seas crew there. We booked this cruise specifially to see what this was all about. Unfortunately, we learned pretty quickly that our travel agent did not book us correctly and we were not registered with their group. Not her fault, but I was pretty disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, we hung on their shirt tales and I asked TONS of questions. This is a fabulous program and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you check out autismontheseas.com. But, it’s not about them…not this time…

We had an AMAZING time and experience. The boys did great in the restaurants. Ok, by great I mean Brayden brought his iPad and did some verbal stimming but stayed in his seat, success! We all slept like champs (for those who know us, Bray has sleep issues and slept until 9:30am every day) AND they both went to the KIDS CLUB! EVEN BRAYDEN…4 times on our little 3 day cruise. The hubs and I walked around the ship at one point like we had lost an appendage. Don’t get me wrong, it was great being by ourselves but we were a little…lost. I went to a couple shows at night and the hubs gambled. Nolan even outlasted us by wanting to stay at the Late Night Party until 2am to take part in the Gagaball (whatever that is) tournament. Needless to say we picked him up by 11pm since we were fading fast but he brought home a bronze medal!

I could go on and on. My point to this is we overcame a fear. We did this…together! We trusted each other and I feel like I bonded with my buddies again. As a family “WE” have AUTISM but we won’t let anything stop us! Can’t wait to do it again!

Now, to help fund our next cruise please message me at http://www.facebook.com/mixingtheautismcocktail. JK! 😉

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Mixing the Autism Cocktail, what does that mean? Do I drink alot because I have children on the Autism Spectrum? No…but somedays it does help, no lie! To understand where I’m coming from you need to know where we started…

The hubs and I had a normal “courtship”. We were together for 3 years before we got married. Sounds about right. Since we were in our early thirties we didn’t want to wait to start a family. After a few months, it wasn’t happening…first stop OB/GYN. I had an elevated thryroid so they sent me to a reproductive specialist. And the infertility journey went on from there. All I have to say it IT SUCKED! Started with simple drugs, then IUI, then mulitple miscarriages. This is where I feel finding the right “cocktail” started. We deciced to do IVF. This was an incredibly difficult decision for two reasons. One, the expense and two, THE SHOTS! Arrgghhh! But, I was always a mother at heart so I went for it. The first time it DID NOT WORK! How is this possible???? The science seems perfect. I was devastated! It took me 6 months to regroup and try again. Having a baby was ALL I thought about and everyone around me was getting pregnant, effortlessly! WTF! Why me! (Yep, the first of the “Why Mes” to come.) In that 6 months I “mixed the cocktail” with some Western medicine. I did acupunture, and drank this terribly disgusting tea, which tasted NOTHING like tea. It was HORRIBLE! And, more juicing “cocktails”. They were gross! In 6 months I was ready to try again. It worked that time and we had twin boys. They were born 2 months early, but they were healthy.

Our boys were incredibly fussy from the time we brought them home from the NICU. They were there for about 6 weeks. (That could be a whole other blog entry!) B (who we call The Buddy) cried and screamed about 80 percent of the time that he was awake. N (We call him No No) moaned or cried. This is not what I was expecting. I just kept saying “What is wrong with these evil children?” I expected sweet babies who would sleep in my arms. That did not happen. Not only did I have two but I had two EXTREMELY difficult babies. To this day, I have NEVER seen a more seemingly “physically healthy” baby as “horrible” as ours. I know that sounds bad, but this is my place to be honest. I loved them but they made it difficult. I was exhausted, mentally and physically. We went through, maybe it was relux, or colic, switching formulas, etc…more “cocktail” mixing for each one! Each on a different “cocktail” that had to carefully be kept straight. When they hit about 9 – 12 months we started with the feeding issues. Textures were a problem, but I was a first time mom, what did I know? I relied on my pediatritian, who was less than helpful. I needed direction but had NO IDEA where to find it. I was seriously insane! I would cry ALOT and get very easily frustrated and frantic. I had a friend come over while I was trying to feed the boys lunch one day. They immediately started to fuss just because she was in the room. I was so frustrated and embarrassed that I threw their lunch in the sink, took them out of their high chairs and started to cry. She suggested that I see my dr. and get on an antidepressant. Seriously???? I’m not depressed…I’m stressed! I shouldn’t have to be on drugs to manage my life with these devil children! Needless to say, I started on Lexapro and it did help alot. It made me calmer and more tolerant.

That year for Christmas the hubs bought me earplugs. And for alot of feedings…they were used…along with Chardonnay. Did you know it pairs well with banana?

The Buddy had his first field trip today. The kindergarteners from his Autism class went to a Nature Center with 2 other general ed kindergarten classes. The parents of the special needs kids were invited to come. Now, The Buddy doesn’t always do well when I’m around at class functions but you can’t stop trying right? So, with the permission slip signed and delivered we were on the “big bus” to the nature center. So far so good! We got there and split up with one other class. We all sat outside and listened to our guide as we built our “habitat”. My Buddy was the only one from his Autism class to sit and listen through the entire section. Ok, he sat on my lap, but none the less, he was sitting! I was the proudest momma EVER! He even participated. Wow! My “supermommy inner self”, we’ll call her SIS, is even standing straight and tall with her cape and hands on her hips…Wonder Woman style. This is AWESOME! I am invincible! Ok, onto the next session…we can do this!

Next, exit the building back to where we started for another sit down. (Oh..oh…my SIS is a little concerned.) We try to sit again…not having it. Ok, that’s fine. We’ll just hang out and enjoy the beautiful day. Then starts the pulling…crying…anxiety. He wants to leave…NOW! Of course we can’t, we rode the bus! Ok, distractions…small walk, not working…swing, nope…standing on a picnic table…no way. Now about 20 minutes has passed, he’s not giving up. It’s only 11am and we’re going to be there for another 2 hours. What the hell am I gonna do??? The teachers try to help (they are AWESOME) but of course, he only wants to torture Mommy. More walking, pulling, crying, labored breathing, even his favorite Chex Mix could not distract him. The rest of the class has been hunting for worms and now they are going to read a story. CRAP! We need to move on…what is next? I decide to take him to the bathroom for fear he will pee his pants with all this tantruming. He is screaming as we enter but does go…ALL OVER THE WALL!!!! Ok, great, now I get to clean the wall while holding onto him as he’s trying to escape the bathroom.

Back outside. The class has now just started a very slow 45 minute hike. I feel bad for my kid (still crying) and trapped. I want to call the hubster to have him pick us up. Crap! He’s heading to the airport today. Should I call my friend? What do I do? I decide crying is the answer and here come the tears, my tears. Wonderful, right in front of his parapro. Ok, get it together girl!!! We are going on the hike…let’s go! We start on our way, which the Buddy is somewhat happy with since at least we are moving. The kids are going much too slow for him as he tries to barrel through them. I ask the guide if the trail loops around and she assures me it does. Great! Coming through everyone! We get ahead of the pack and start walking. Me, The Buddy and his para. We did well and he calmed down a bit. Then, we get back to where we started and the other class is merely halfway through. The Buddy is starting to escalate. We decide to hit the trail again. Reluctantly, The Buddy complies.

Round 2 is much more interesting. We see the group from our class coming back our way. “You have to turn around, there are yellow jackets that are starting to swarm that way.” Seriously? Turn around? Oh, that is not going to go well. I try to turn him around and he twists and turns his body like a contortionist. He WILL NOT turn around. Ok, we check out the bees. We see them but decide to head on through. We are all wearing jeans so should be ok. I pick up The Buddy and on we go. Whew, we made it unscathed. Next group, coming towards us. There’s a snake ahead! I hate snakes, but as we know, turning around is not an option. We see the snake, it’s small. What’s the worst it can do right? It’s just a little snake. I pick The Buddy up again and on we go. Just as we pass it the guide says “Yep, it’s a Copperhead.” Wonderful! Let’s hope Mommy and Daddy snake are not close by!

So, we’ve dodged a swarm of bees and a poisonous snake. I feel like Mario and I’m in a video game…but I’m not collecting any gold coins!!!! WTF! Out of the trail again we meet up with our class and it’s time to sit at a picnic table for lunch. (Ok, SIS is now wearing full body armour.) The Buddy does not eat well AND does not eat well in public or unfamiliar places. But, maybe he’s hungry from all the energy he expelled tantruming. No dice! We all sit and he starts kicking, screaming, trying to throw the food, etc. Not good. But, what can I do. I use all my strength to contain him. And the other 2 kiddos do not seem bothered by this at all. They are just happily eating. I hand him off to his teacher for a bit so I can eat half of my sandwich. Finally, he eats a couple of his para’s chips and he’s snacking a bit and calmer. After lunch, he starts to explore some sticks and still wants to leave, but is bearable.

Now, Thank the Lord, it’s time to get back on the bus to leave. He sits happily on the bus and I start to relax. The trip is over. We survived…

Lessons learned: Neither a swarm of bees or a poisonous snake are scarier to me than my son’s uncontrollable tantrums…hmmm…

April 15, 2013

Welcome!  This is my first blog post for Mixing the Autism Cocktail.  I will be posting on my daily rants, vents and milestones mixed with a whole lot of humor.  Hope you will join me on my forever changing “Happy Hour”.

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