I have three boys, all of whom I love more than anything, and one of whom is severely physically and mentally disabled. As you might expect, people are often curious about his condition, and about how we have dealt and continue to deal with it. Here is at least some of his story.
On February 7, 2009, my entire world changed. My wife gave birth at home to twins, causing our family to double in size overnight. Hunter was born first, and then Mason.
At first, Hunter, being so small, spent most of his time sleeping, and he wasn’t latching on to nurse as easily as his brother was. Then, at around 2 weeks old, he started getting really fussy. Actually, that’s a gross understatement. Saying he was fussy is sort of like saying Hitler had some disagreements with jews.
No, I’m not comparing my son to Hitler. He’s incredibly sweet. What I’m saying is he wasn’t just fussy, he was screaming constantly. Repeatedly, throughout the day and throughout the night, he would scream. Often, I think the only reason he would fall asleep was because he’d scream himself into exhaustion.
Don’t get me wrong. We had our good times. The fussing would pause for a little bit, or we’d be able to keep him momentarily distracted with a video or song. But it still felt relentless. Our child was unhappy, often appearing to be in agony, and nobody we talked to and nothing we tried seemed to help.
I was able to take a few weeks off from work for “baby bonding” time, but when that ended, I had to head into the office (I didn’t work from home at that time), and my wife was left alone. Trying to manage a constantly agonizing baby in itself would be a challenge, let alone the fact that he had a twin brother, with all the needs of a regular infant. There were times when she would call me from work and beg me to come home. She would feel helpless to comfort Hunter, and I would feel helpless to comfort her.
This went on for several months, during which neither Esther nor I got much sleep… or much of a life. We couldn’t go out alone because no babysitter could really calm him down. We tried taking him with us on a date once, and had to leave the restaurant before we could even order our food. We took him to church now and again, but that didn’t always go so well, either.
My wife’s family lived about an hour away. We usually couldn’t stay long because his wailing would get worse and worse the more tired he got. On our way home from visiting, his screaming would reach such blood-curdling levels that we usually had to pull over once or twice on the way home to calm him down. I remember one family gathering where Hunter just couldn’t stop his outbursts. One family member couldn’t take it anymore and loudly expressed her annoyance. We left, and I couldn’t help think, “You can’t handle it for a few hours. Imagine how we feel.”
Many of our friends and family were there for us as much as they could be, but ultimately, it was something nobody else really understood or fully knew about. It was something we ultimately felt we had to bear on our own.
Then, when the twins were about 5 or 6 months old, somebody offered a very unexpected suggestion: See a chiropractor. I’d never used a chiropractor before, and didn’t know much about them other than they worked on peoples’ backs. But a chiropractor for a baby? That just sounded bizarre. Nonetheless, we were at the end of our rope, and were desperate to try anything. So we did.
Our chiropractor determined that Hunter had a pinched nerve near his spine, and began to work on his back. We took Hunter five days in a row, and within the first week, we saw a night-and-day difference in his screaming and fussiness. We took Hunter to see him five times a week for the first two weeks, then three times a week for a few weeks after that, and finally once or twice a week for another month or two.
Our insurance did not cover our chiropractor, which was $50 a session. As a result, we racked up some hefty credit card debt. But it was worth it. We had our sweet boy again. He wasn’t keeping us up late with inconsolable wailing. We were finally able to take him places without having to worry about any disruptions.
The worst was over!
The worst was definitely over, but there were still more challenges to come. But I’ll save that for a future post. At this point, what mattered most was that our sweet little boy was finally happy.