Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What's in a name?--#NaBloPoMo

"Mamamommy, I want UPSTAIRS, please!"

This is my call to duty, a cry for action any time of day or night. It wakes me from my sleep. It calls me when I'm trying to grab a meal. It runs me up and down the steep, old stairs that lead from the main floor of our home to our older son's bedroom.

Up and down. Up and down.

When caring for a child with limited independence, being constantly called for work can get tiring.

"Mamamommy, I want upstairs, please!"

But, then I remember that a couple years ago, to this child, I didn't even have a name. Calling out to another person required a social connection that he didn't always have. Many people take for granted the fact that children assign names to their parents soon into babyhood.

My husband and I don't. For years, we didn't even have names. Our older son barely looked at us.

Mamamommy. I earned that name by more methods than most would imagine.

I remember the day I first heard it.

Our boy was sick, sick as in...sick. That's never fun for anyone. For him, being sick was just complicated. His already compromised gastric system were defenseless against viruses. When he caught one, it would rip through every inch of his already inflamed intestinal tract, aggravate an already mean case of gastritis and intensify his rancid case of acid reflux.

His sensory system didn't understand this, and when he wasn't trying to run away from the screaming pain, he was weak and curled in a ball on the floor. Not yet a master at making it to the toilet for vomit runs, he spewed all over the second floor of our home.

I didn't have a name. He couldn't call me to tell me he was sick in the off chance that I ran to the basement to change a load of laundry.

Eventually, I hung a strand of bells on his door just in case he opened it without my knowing. At least then I'd have a chance of helping him should he need me when I stepped away from him.

He had no voice to call me. He became dehydrated, and the doctor discussed hospitalization with me. However, we all knew that the only way to make this child stay in a hospital bed would be to drug him, and nobody wanted that. So, in a last-ditch effort to turn things around, I set up vigil in his room.

Sixteen hours. That's how long I spent with my 10ml syringe, pumping home-made electrolytes into his body. At first, they didn't stay down, but eventually they did. By morning, he was better.

As we laid side-by-side on his floor amidst a pile of blankets and sheets, just as the sun rose, he put his hand on my arm and fell asleep.

I didn't want to move. He was touching me---in a normal, affectionate way. I could have stayed there forever, but I didn't. I can't remember why.

"Mamamommy," I heard not too long after that.

Was that him? More importantly, did I hear him call for his mom??

"Mammamommy," he said again.

I carefully walked upstairs. Was I in a dream? When I peered into his room, there he was, still on the floor in the makeshift bed of sheets and pillows. He looked up, he gaze better but still weak, and he held out his arm to me.

I walked over to him, and he pulled me down, beckoning me to lay down once again next to him. On my arm, he once again placed his hand.

I looked at him as he slept, just minutes after I had received my new name, and I felt sad.

He had no voice. His face showed no emotion. Still, why did I think that he didn't feel the same as the rest of us? Why did I think that this child cared any less about wanting his mama around him when he was sick?

It was a rookie mistake.

Autism may rob a child of his expression, but it doesn't take away his heart. I walked away from that stomach bug with a valuable lesson...and also with a name.

NaBloPoMo July Challenge. The finish line is a week away, and I'm still here. Dig it.


  1. This really touched my heart. Every mother realizes how much their babies need them no matter how old they are once they are sick.


  2. This is so moving. What a moment that must have been for you when he called you and reached out to you. My heart goes out to the poor sick boy and to you, but this illness of his gave you a transcendent moment.

  3. That is my favorite moment yet! Mamamommy AND a hand on his mamamommy to show the affection he had always felt. How awesome. Way to make an old woman have eye leakage, again.

    How special. How very, unexpectedly special. ♥

  4. Ugh! Thanks to all three of you for putting up with the worst editing job I've put forth in order to recognize the spirit of my words. Let's hope it is better now!

  5. Love this post, Amy! Thanks so much for sharing! Holy tears from this one....but happy tears for you and your sweet boy!

    1. Glad to see you here, Tasha, and thanks for reading. You've played a special role in this guy's life.

  6. Welling up in my chest, Amy. I think motherhood is hard enough without the added challenges but you somehow manage it with grace and style. I hope you are reading or investigating how to make a blog a book. Seems as if the stories can to turn into something more. Food for thought. Beautiful post.

    1. Thank you, Brenda. Your words are very flattering. Making all this a book is a dream. I'm not sure how to do it. Mulling it over while I do the day-to-day. I hope to make it happen.