On January 10, Matthew was released from Healy House. It is now the 22 of January, and I can't believe I am writing this, but all in all things have been ok. I have made many changes to our lives, and I am thankful to the people who have supported my family in our recent success.
I decided that my goal upon Matthew's discharge was to keep him home until at least February 10. We had not spent a full month together as a family since October, and I felt like the month was an important committment to make to my family. I also knew that I could only reach this goal if I put some things in place. The easiest and most likely way for us to succeed was for me to have help at home. Matthew had struggled at the hospital, which often had a ratio of 7 kids to 3 adults. He had struggled at Healy House, which had a ratio of 8 kids to 3 adults, so it made little sense for me to think that I could handle him at home with a ratio of 3 kids to 1 adult.
I hired a babysitter to be at the house with us every night, and if I did not have access to a sitter, I asked my parents if they could help on Friday nights a few times each month so that there was always another adult to help us out. The babysitter and I would be here with the children together, but when my parents came, they would either take David and Jacob, and I would have 1:1 time with Matthew, or they would take Matthew and I would have a quiet night with David and Jacob.
At first it was very hard for me to get used to having a sitter in the house with me. I had to communicate with the sitter, and the children had to figure out who to listen to. I had to be comfortable asking for help and trusting the babysitter to follow our routine. However, the first time Matthew tantrummed, and the babysitter was here, I knew I had made a great decision. After matthew was done tantrumming and I came downstairs, I realized that the little boys had reacted completely differently to Matthew's tantrum because they had an adult who they trusted to care for them while Matthew was upset. They looked busy and happy, even though matthew had just been upset. They were playing and laughing and seemed much less impacted by the tantrum. To me this was very important. Matthew, being matthew, is going to tantrum, it would be unrealistic for me not to expect that, however, I needed to limit the effect these tantrums were having on the little boys, and by having a sitter in the house, I was able to do
In addition to the sitter, I have promised myself that if I am alone with the boys and there is a problem, I will call for help. The other night we were out to dinner and Matthew got upset and after trying to keep him calm, and starting to drive home, I realized that it had just gotten to be too much. The little boys now needed time from an adult, and Matthew was not settling quickly. In the past I would have hemmed and hawed and hoped that the tantrum would end, but this time I called my friend. Worst case scenario, I would bother her and she would not be needed. Best case scenario, she would come over, help deescalate the situation and then could head for home. What ended up happening was even better than I thought. She came and got the little guys ready for bed. I stayed with Matthew who after having some medicine was settling down, and then as soon as the upset started, Matthew stopped the tantrumming. Meg and I tucked the kids into bed, and then chatted for a while. Not only did Meg help the boys feel better, but I had an adult who had seen what happened and could talk it through with me. I was able to end the night feeling positive rather than beating myself up, and I was fresh enough to start over the next morning after some chat time!
I have asked my folks for help, a few times since Matthew came home and each time asking gets easier- I don't ever want to be dependent on anyone else, but I feel my family coming together better than we have since October. The boys are more comfortable and Matthew is getting a chance to be home. That said, I know that reality of life with Matthew is ups and downs. I am excited that we have a new respite worker who is starting next week who will be with us 2 days per week in the evenings through bedtime. I am continuing to hire sitters when the respite worker is not here so that we can build on success.
My theory is we can build upon our success, or we could continue down the path we were on. Everyday of success is a step in the right direction! I know that parenting these 3 boys at times means we need more help than other parents need, but I am feeling better about my parenting abilities than I had been in a while, and I feel like I can stop treading water and maybe, just maybe enjoy life in in the lifejacket!
- I am a single mom of three amazing boys! All three of my sons entered my family through adoption. All three of my boys have developmental disabilities. My oldest son, Matthew has been diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Bipolar Disorder. David, my middle son, has a genetic condition, he has a duplication on his 15th chromosome which leads to autism like symptoms, seizures and learning challenges. My youngest son, Jacob has learning disabilities. Each of my children bring unique challengs to our family and also bring their own personality and joys to our everyday life!