The idea of introducing a new element to a child with ASD can be daunting, and I must admit that my imagination created several terrible scenarios over the last months before our second son Isaiah was born. I lost sleep over it and was up brainstorming different approaches we could take if little Ira had a meltdown. Many times if we did something to throw off his “routine”, he would make sure we were well aware of his dissatisfaction with whatever the “foreign” thing was. So of course it made perfect sense for us to add another little human being that cries loudly, needs a ton of attention, is the very definition of changing routines and will be here whether their presence is wanted or not.
Little Ira does not do well with loud noises and gets very uncomfortable when there is anything related to a sad emotion. So this made my levels of anxiety sky rocket when my water finally broke. My worries were not about the many hours of labor ahead of me, but were filled with the coming changes that little Ira’s day-to-day routine would endure and what we were going to do.
So I woke my husband up to drop me off at the hospital, because we couldn’t take little Ira to the hospital since he doesn’t do well with going to new places, especially if there are people he isn’t familiar with. You may be wondering why we didn’t just get someone to watch him, but he really struggles with social situations…even with Ira’s family. Don’t worry, I was not all alone! My mother-in-law stayed with me until baby Isaiah arrived.
I was exhausted over my two-day hospital stay, not just because I had a baby, but also because I was so worried about how little Ira was doing without me and of course going home and turning little Ira’s world upside down. I tried to focus on my stay in the hospital and just enjoy the last non-chaotic days I would have for a while.
I got home and settled in, and laid Isaiah in his bassinet while we waited for little Ira to wake up from his nap. He finally came out and started crying as he covered his ears when saw that my mother-in-law was sitting there with us. He ran back in his room and laid on the bed, so she left and I went in to talk to him. I told him Isaiah was outside and he said no. My anxiety swelled a little, but I tried to remain calm and made it seem fun to go out and take a look. He didn’t want me to get up and I reminded myself that it may have been because I was gone for three days, so I sat with him for a while and just loved on him. Then we went out and he began looking Isaiah over with curiosity. We explained who Isaiah was and that he was very tired so he would sleep a lot. Then the moment of truth…Isaiah woke up ready for a feeding and started screaming as I changed his diaper. Little Ira covered his ears but I was surprised to see that had a huge smile on his face. Then he started hysterically laughing and running around between the living room and his bedroom. He started mocking Isaiah and continued running around laughing. Thank GOD!!! In that moment, all of my worries melted away. I was so grateful and literally felt like a huge weight lifted. If he could get through this, I figured he could adjust to everything else without too much trouble.
Little Ira has been so great with Isaiah. He wakes up looking for him and likes for him to be in the room with us as part of the bedtime routine. He loves him so much and has only gotten jealous of him a few times and it was because he was trying to get my attention while I was changing Isaiah. I didn’t ignore him, but I asked him to hold on for a moment while I finished up, but I didn’t look in his direction as was talking since I had my hands full. I’ve made adjustments since so that if little Ira says something or needs something, I stop to look him in the eye and acknowledge him as I explain that I need a moment to finish up whatever I’m doing. We haven’t had any problems now that I’ve made those adjustments because he doesn’t feel left out.
If you have just one child with ASD and are considering having another, my advice would be to make sure you prepare as much as possible for routine changes and explain things to your little one, but don’t stress yourself too much. You can only prepare so much before knowing what you will be dealing with and you may be surprised to find that it is a lot better than you expect! I think it also depends on how your child is in general. Little Ira is pretty high functioning, but struggles with certain things like food and social situations. You also need to be sure that if you have a significant other in your life, that you are both on board with a general plan and adding more stress to your plates. It’s been a lot better than I expected, but we still have struggled with finding balance with our schedules and two kids.
Please feel free to leave comments with any questions and as always, thank you for spending time with me!