Yesterday was my granddaughter’s first birthday. We had a very small party for her at our house. There were several factors that led to the “small” party.
The first, obviously, was COVID-19. Since the baby and I are heading back to Missouri in a week to care for my father, it’s very important that we don’t pick up this virus along the way. Not only would traveling while sick be an incredibly stupid idea, the chance of my father getting sick is entirely too great.
Secondly, Katarinah doesn’t handle large groups well. We’ve had suspicions about her behaviors since the major quarantine that happened in April but today at the doctor, our suspicions were heard and her doctor referred her to a birth-to-three program for children with disabilities. See, we believe our sweet little granddaughter has autism.
It’s hard to completely agree with the idea because she has developed like most babies. She walks, crawls, tries to run, rolls over, laughs, babbles, and uses her hands.
But sometimes, she regresses. Two months ago, she had a vocabulary of about five or six solid words. Now, she doesn’t say any of them. Some days, she doesn’t even babble. If she makes a sound at all, it’s to cry or scream. She gets agressively overwhelmed when more than one person tries to interact with her for any amount of time. And when she gets worked up, she requires a fuzzy blanket to snuggle on her cheek before she will calm down. There are other signs. Other details I might have missed if I had spent the last year working all the time instead of spending an extensive amount of time at home with the children.
For this time at home, for the time I got to spend exclusively with my children and grandchildren, I am grateful despite the horid circumstances. Global pandemic be damned, we made the best of it. We stayed home. We watched movies. We watched the baby learn to crawl and roll and play. We had many sleepless nights that led to long afternoon naps. She cut teeth, she learned to drink from a sippy cup, she transitioned to solid foods. She drove us crazy without a break but we didn’t get coronavirus so it was worth it.
Some days, taking care of all of her needs is the most demanding job imaginable. Some days, she is a dream child. Some days, being a writer and student while being her primary caregiver is impossible. Those days, I don’t get to do any writing. I won’t post blogs because I can’t sit at the computer and type one handed.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t get any work done. Instead of typing and grinding at the projects I want to complete, I find myself lost in daydreams while we snuggle on the couch and watch musicals. I play out the stories I long to tell and look at the different sequence of events that might happen for my characters.
Many nights I am at my computer until midnight hammering out college assignments after baby goes to sleep for the night. Most days I spend working on homework or household chores while she naps. One thing I know for sure is that she has required more attention than all of my own children at her age. There has been very little downtime. I am exceptionally grateful for all of the little breaks I was able to get over the last six months.
I don’t know what the future will bring, but I know that this year has been the most emotional and the most chaotic of my life. I am happy to have this wonderful little girl here with me. Our journey has just begun and I know that it will not be an easy road for any of us. Still, I’m hopeful for her future and all the things she might someday do. But most of all, I love her more than I ever thought was possible, just as I love all of my own children more than words can even express.
So happy birthday baby girl! Your Nana will be here for you, no matter what comes our way. There is no obstacle too big for us to overcome.