Wednesday, January 23, 2008

And When Did He First Pick His Nose?

Currently, Jack is being screened to enter a study on autism at NIMH. One of the results of this screening is that he will end up with a diagnosis. Hallelujah! One of the other results of this screening is that I will end up feeling like the worst mother on the face of the planet because I can apparently remember nothing about his life up to (and including) this point.

Alex and I spent our morning yesterday in a tiny room being interviewed for three and a half hours about the minutiae of Jack's development from birth to last week. Considering I've lived with the kid for more than four and a half years and I recently pored over his baby book to fill out stacks of papers about him, not only for this screening, but in preparation for an appointment we may or may not keep with the diagnostic people at Kennedy Krieger, you'd think I'd be able to supply some—any—information about him.

I didn't feel so bad when I couldn't answer the question, "When was the first time Jack spontaneously said 'uh-oh'?" But it went downhill from there.

I was quite proud of myself because I had just laid out in detail what I thought was the first time he had said "uh-oh," complete with what came before and after. Not good enough. Apparently that was non-spontaneous. And, in case you are wondering, there is a difference.

There's nothing that will make you feel like a bad parent faster than being stared at by a doctor and your husband as you admit that literally the only thing you can remember about Christmas 2005 is that the tree was positioned so that it blocked the front door so visitors had to come in the side door. By the way, that is Quinn's first Christmas that I have no memory of.

I don't know if it's that I have a bad memory or it's that I have three kids or what, but the first couple years of Jack's life are kind of a blur. There is a large sort of blank spot between the time he was three months old and the time he turned three. I remember that he started school somewhere in there, but other than that, I'm not entirely sure of much else.

How many words did he have by 24 months? ("This is a touchpoint for me," said the doctor.) Fuck if I remember. I do remember bringing it up to the pediatrician, so I know it wasn't a normal amount. Was he putting two words together when he started school? Did he make eye contact when he was a baby and then stop making it later? Did he ever make eye contact? Does he now?

Add to the humiliation the fact that they're videotaping us so that when the beads of sweat form on my brow because I can't remember if he had ten words before 24 months or after, every researcher that checks our file in the future will be able to see it.

The doctor did reassure us that "these are hard questions," and, "your ability to answer these questions is typical."

But then, like two hours later, when you can no longer answer questions such as, "What kinds of things does Jack like to play with?", you know that somehow you have surpassed that point you never thought you would surpass: the point at which you are no longer thrilled to be talking about your child.

You'll excuse me. I have some home videos to review.

Cross-posted (soon) at DC Metro Moms.


  1. No worries. Really, if you could have answered all those questions they would have been looking for some kind of diagnosis of something or other for you. No sane Mom can remember all that kind of stuff - even if they only had 1 child.

    BTW - if he does get the diagnosis, there are places around here always looking for kids for studies. Not that I want to subject my son to be guinea pig, but we did one of them in the fall. It was mostly playing games for him and he got 30 bucks for the session. He was most excited about that.

  2. Wow!! I would have flunked the test also. I can barely remember what my kids did yesterday... I agree with Robin. No sane Mom can remember all that stuff. You need to give yourself a break and the doctors need to take their list of questions and shove it where.....

    Ouch! Am I a little defensive right now?


  3. I hate these kinds of questions. I end up feeling the same way ... like I can't remember a damn thing and must be an awful parent. I don't have baby books ... I was too busy trying to get him to eat and keep it down.

  4. I certainly remember experiencing that same humiliation - these days I've toughened up and just blame it all on advancing senility.
    BEst wishes

  5. Yeah, it's amazing how much about my kids just flies out of my head so fast. The doctor was really nice, and I totally appreciate what they're doing. But, jeez, I wish the memory center section of my brain was bigger than a peanut.

  6. Sis? Can't remember anything. Phatboy, I remember more. I am shocked though that I know the babies name most days.

    I get a big fat F too, F is for fried at my house.

  7. Gee y'know, if you had known ahead of time - you would have taken notes!!!

    I could never remember that stuff either. I kind of wonder about Moms who DO remember every piece of information like that. I mean - I guess - um - do they think about ANYTHING else? I'm just askin'.

  8. I had 2 inches of paperwork to fill out for both boys last year and then two three hour appointments. I couldn't keep either boy straight. And then when they expected me to do math and know what 42 months meant or whatever, well, that wasn't happening. I went through old evaluations, eary intervention reports, videos, pictures, even e-mails and searched through an online parenting board archive I posted on when the boys were young so that I could give accurate information. It really sucked. We stopped at 2 opinions. I'm sure we could get more, but I'm pretty tired of it all. Moosie has his yearly eval in Feb. and I had to fill out even more paperwork. Luckily I can copy his school evals and IEP etc and let the doctor search for his own information!

  9. Ugh. Those interviews are torture. And, while comforting, the words "your ability to answer these questions is typical" were clearly chosen by a person without a whole lot of extra warmth.

  10. BetteJo, maybe I should start taking notes now. Or I guess that's what this blog is for.

    Ange, that happened to me too. A couple of times I caught myself saying, "Or was that Sam?"

    All said, the doctor was very nice. Mostly I can't believe how much I can't remember. People always used to tell me that would happen, but I didn't believe it. Forget my son's first Christmas? Never!

  11. Yup, went thru the same screening for the same study at NIMH. Fortunately I have just the one kid. But I still brought my computer so I could check my blog to determine when he hit certain milestones. No one remembers everything!

  12. Hey, I would have flunk that kind of test too!

    Lucky for me in Singapore, we have such Q&A on a yearly basis till the child turns 3 years old.

    After which, its goodbye for good to all those #@$%# questions! Yuck!

    Gonna go for the last one in March when my younger one turns 3. Then its done for me....ermmm...unless I am pregnant again..

  13. Hugs babe.

    If you remembered everything they would slap the handcuffs on and write on the file Munchasens by Proxy.

    And when he gets older you get the 'WHY does he do that' like you a freaking conduit or something...

  14. I am sure that the more they ask, the less you can remember, too. I can't imagine remembering all that stuff. Maybe I need to start writing it down...

    Anyway, I hope you get the diagnosis you want as soon as possible--and don't have to answer any more questions like that!

  15. I barely remember a thing, honestly. I keep wondering how I've managed to keep all three of them alive this long. I have these baby books I'm supposed to have filled out and I feel terribly guilty that I haven't. I wonder if I should just make stuff up so the kids will have something to look back on when they're teenagers.

  16. It is impossible for any mother to remember all of these events - especially if you have more than one child, they kind of all blur together. And three+ hours?! Torture. I've heard of that NIMH study, hope it proves helpful for you! We are headed to KKI next week, if you want more info about our experience there, let me know.

  17. I remember EVERYTHING about my child on the spectrum, because EVERYTHING was sooo totally off. But... ask me my second born's birthday, and well I draw a blank. Poor kid. I am just hoping to remember to deliver the baby due in April!!

  18. Good luck. I totally would have flunked that test. I can't remember a damned thing.


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