Friday, March 20, 2015

Joshua, Part Five

Part 1 Here
Part 2 Here
Part 3 Here
Part 4 Here

At a month to the day we flew back to Morocco with an arsenal of ideas to help Joshua in the coming months.

I had my first Mama Bear of a special needs child moment before we even boarded our first flight.

Coming through Paris on the way to the States, the airline did not give me our stroller during our layover.  This is something we take for granted in the States: you walk up to the gate, fold your stroller and get on.  Upon arriving at your destination they hand it to you as you get off the plane.  NOT ALWAYS THE CASE OVERSEAS. I spent 5 miserable hours at Charles De Gaulle airport corralling a 2 year old who didn't understand a word I said.  And was already quite heavy. I was ticked.

So there was no way I was going to do that again.  While boarding I had it out with the gate agents and Air France flight attendants, insisting that I HAD to have access to that stroller in Paris; getting it in Rabat was not going to cut it.  They kept pushing back, Joshua's throwing a fit, a VIP African Ambassador is trying to board along with the Secret Service, and no one knows how to translate "autistic" into French.  We finally got the idea of "special needs" across and they begrudgingly tried to find a space for it on the plane.  I all but got out my screwdriver and pliers to break that thing down into small enough pieces to store on the plane.  Parts of it were scattered in places from tip to tail.

Once at home I plopped Joe in front of the therapist's videos and we began implementing the games into our play.  Joshua responded really, really well.  He learned very quickly that adults are VERY fun to play with and are accessible if you just ask.

(He wasn't talking at this point; he would request things by physical touch. Oh wait, that makes it sound like he's talking now.  He's not.)

Back in Morocco

This is where Matt and Mary really enter the picture.  They had arrived at post the past summer, and having mutual friends, we struck up a close relationship quite quickly.  As a bonus they lived on the same street as us so we spent some time with them almost every day.  But it really broke my heart when they sat us down and asked us to teach them how to play with Joshua; how to meet his needs.  They love him (and us) so much.  Matt is generally preferred as Joshua has figured out that men are usually more fun than women because they wrestle/tickle/throw him around.  His very favorite!!  But Joshua knows that Mary is there too and it makes me so happy to see him communicate with her as he does me.  Matt created his own games with Joshua that they enjoyed for the duration of our time in Morocco.

Matt and Joshua on his birthday.

Coming back, though, was not all fun and games.  About 2 months into it, right when we were getting in a groove, we found out we were pregnant with A.  

I'm not sure if this is something you write about in a blog, but make no mistake, the timing of A was NOT PLANNED.  We had always, always wanted a third child, but probably wouldn't have chosen a time when we were dealing with so much unknown and feeling so vulnerable.  Not to mention an international move in the big middle of my third trimester.  

Most of my fear (is anyone else sensing a theme here?), stemmed from simple logistics.  How was I supposed to take care of a newborn and Joshua (who in many ways was still very much a baby), at the same time?  The thing that stuck out the most in my mind, still not sure why, was how to get them all in and out of the car.  Joshua couldn't follow any directions at the time and the whole idea of 3 kids, when I hadn't figured out 2, was overwhelming.  So the first decision made was that a minivan with electric doors would be purchased upon arriving stateside.  (Sigh)

Upon learning of my pregnancy, I slipped right back into my state of shock and numbness.  Except this time it continued for several months.  Looking back, it may have lasted an entire year.  I went from loving, caring and serving other people to being completely insular. I was a terrible friend and know that I hurt many during that time.  Not because of anything I did, but what I didn't do. I just wasn't there for anyone: mentally, physically, or emotionally.  

Maybe you're wondering why a pregnancy, one that I was excited about, though surprised, would bend me so out of shape.  I should mention here that I have suffered from anxiety and depression for 13 years and my margins are just not as wide as some people's may be.  And that's OK.  But sometimes, things are going to spill outside the margins, and you're going to have to deal.  

I was able to go about daily life in Morocco: work, be a mom, wife, travel, attend social functions.  But I'm sure I was just skimming the surface; surviving.  

We finished our tour, said many sad goodbyes (the emotions made a brief appearance), and headed home. 

Saying goodbye to our Khadija.

See you on Monday!

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