We had always planned on having multiple children.
Neither my wife nor I are only children – she’s the middle child of three, I’m the eldest of four. Both of us had felt that having siblings had helped with our growth when we were little, and gave us someone to relate to as we’ve grown older. So it was a no-brainer, after the Monster was born, that we’d at some point have a second child, even if we were going to wait a bit between them.
We’d only just started talking about when we would start planning for a second child when we started to get the feeling something was not quite typical with the Monster. By the time that feeling had turned into dawning awareness that it was likely to be autism, we’d already put the brakes somewhat on the idea of rushing into giving him a little brother or sister. Much of it was a concern about the unknown – it’s not like dealing with something that’s clearly genetic, but rather a random crap-shoot of the dice, and something like that is quite frightening, especially when you’ve already had that result once.
After a while, we decided to go ahead anyway. All of the research we’d found showed that there was a good chance that another child would still be typically developing. Plus, we’d still stuck with our original thoughts that we wanted multiple children, that we wanted the Monster to have a playmate, things like that. So about three and a half years after we had the Monster, we were due to have child #2.
And therein came the second wave of concern – how would the Monster deal with having a second child around? Disruptions to his schedule hadn’t thrown him too badly, and he’d adapted to changes as things happened. We waited a good long time before trying to explain at all to him about the fact that there was a baby coming because we couldn’t find any decent materials to prepare an autistic child for a new baby. And then, at a certain point, we did what all expecting parents do – we crossed our fingers and waited.
All that worrying about how things would be? We shouldn’t have worried. There was a week or two of little fits of jealousy over the new baby, and then things settled in after the change had become familiar. All in all, in the five months since then, it’s gotten nice and peaceful around the house.
What made me think to talk about this today, though, was something the wife said when I got home last night. Apparently, while they were out yesterday, of his own volition, the Monster came over to hold the baby’s hand while they were out and just spent a little bit acting like every bit the nearly-typical, protective big brother we’re hoping he’ll eventually be….