First-time parents, and a beautiful but difficult toddler.
Tells the story through to meeting many professionals, and diagnosis on the Autism Spectrum.
Dave's a star, find out why.
PREPARING FOR THE BABY
Returning from work, something made Wendy hesitate inside her front doorway. Strange—the lights were on, the curtains drawn, yet post was lying on the front mat. Wasn’t Ed home, then? She heard a noise. There was a burglary in progress. Someone was inside the house. Pregnancy made her cautious. Running out of her front door, there was a rustling sound. She knew someone was climbing over the hedge, making their getaway. It was too dark to see. Ringing a neighbour’s doorbell, Wendy phoned the police. Returning home, she found Christmas presents scattered around the room, their wrappings torn. The back door was wide open, glass smashed across the floor.
It set a precedent for the pregnancy. Home no longer felt safe. Was her expected baby safe? What if Wendy had not hesitated in the doorway, but walked in on the burglars? Would there have been a struggle? Would baby have survived? Normal pregnancy tests were organised. Ed and Wendy were convinced by the doctor that Wendy should book in for the Triple Blood Test, to check for a healthy baby. The couple were adamant nothing would change their minds about having this baby. Professional advice recommended it was worth knowing potential outcome; Wendy would be 36 when baby was born. Tests were worrying. The risk of Down’s syndrome was high at 1:139. Unable to face months of uncertainty, an amniocentesis test was booked at the local hospital. Was their baby normal? Ed and Wendy were convinced they would have the baby, whatever tests might prove.
Life had become very precious over the past two years. The future couple had moved to settle in Norwich, within a month of each other. They met, then courted on the Norfolk Broads. Wendy remembered an immediate and great desire (within a week) to have Ed’s children. She was in love. Romance led to marriage. Both were keen to have children. When the first pregnancy test was confirmed, both were full of hope and expectancy. They were a new couple starting a family. Nine weeks later Wendy miscarried. The future was no longer predictable. Holidaying in Greece a few months later, Wendy briefly regretted Greek cuisine. Returning through customs, she desperately wanted to throw up. Later the couple would tease each other about a ‘little Greek souvenir’ they brought through duty-free. Baby was due in June 1993, 18 months after their winter wedding.
Already this child was special. Whatever test results showed, baby would be carried to term. Christmas was a tense time, awaiting results of the amniocentesis. Tests proved negative. On the couple’s written request, there was more news. Ed and Wendy were expecting a boy. They named him David, both parents choosing their favourite boy’s name. It also helped to continue a family tradition, for David was named after Ed’s dad, and baby’s name was rounded off with Thomas, after Grandad Harris. They read books of names. David meant beloved. It seemed appropriate. Amusingly, Thomas meant twin.
Wendy recalled their first doctor’s appointment. Nervously the couple wondered what tests would need to be carried out. They had already used two home pregnancy tests. The doctor simply added, “Congratulations”. Leaving surgery, the doctor glanced at Ed. Quietly she gave her opinion, “Double buggy!”
They passed high risk early pregnancy and relaxed a little, looking forward to their son’s birth. An undercurrent of worry persisted. Wendy grew very large with David. The doctor’s joke simply indicated one healthy-sized baby. Unexpectedly, Ed’s mum was rushed into hospital, following a freak accident. As Wendy stepped tentatively into the general ward, a nurse looked surprised. Surely Wendy was due in Maternity now - on the other side of the hospital?
David’s due date came and went. Ed joked that baby was too comfortable and didn’t want to be born. The prospect of induction loomed large. Hopes of a natural birth were shelved. Arriving in Maternity Department, precisely two weeks overdue, Wendy clutched her birth plan. Ed carried a bag for labour ward and one for baby. The father-to-be spent a day rushing between home, hospital and last-minute shopping in town. Wendy was hooked up to machines, monitoring both contractions and foetal heartbeat. The day dragged. Discussing with the midwife a possible third dose of prostaglandin gel next morning, Wendy’s early excitement at baby’s impending birth had fizzled into a depressing prospect of overnight stay in hospital. When would baby make an appearance?
By late afternoon, Ed arrived to find his wife begging him to connect the TENS Machine. Returning again after a snatched supper Ed was met by a wife clinging to him in desperation through waves of contractions. Ed repeated instructions from their antenatal classes. The midwife returned and sounded surprised. “Why didn’t you tell me?” The couple were quickly ushered up to delivery floor and the TENS Machine was barely adequate. It was switched on full. Wendy was attached to another monitor and the midwife recommended setting up a drip to speed up contractions. “Do you need more pain relief?” Wendy gave a resounding “Yes!”