Why?11 Aug 2015, by A Dog for Aiden in
“Mom, I can’t have a dog. I shook the baby.” My amazingly honest, brilliant girl was starting to doubt our family’s decision. Was I? I brought this conversation up with my husband late last night. “Heather, its not like you can tell her we are getting a dog BECAUSE you shook the baby. It sounds like broken logic. But its our good reason.”
When I woke up Thursday morning, I knew it was going to be that kind of day. You know, the kind of day where the birds sing and peace and quiet reigns in your child filled house. It would be that rare day where nothing happens of note and you can think about it the rest of the week as “that one day.” I was right, until around 3:30 pm. 12 week old Leif was peacefully asleep in his Moses Basket while his sister Aiden played with her Barbies. This was the perfect time to run to the restroom. It would only take a few minutes. Nothing too bad could happen in that short of time, right?
I walked back into my toy filled living room to see my 5 year old girl shaking my infant. Don’t panic, I thought frantically to myself, whatever you do, don’t panic. Don’t let her see it in your eyes that she could be killing her brother. Aiden had been asking for a baby brother since she was two. “I have two brothers in my pocket, mom,” she’d say, “I just need you to make me real ones because these are imaginary, k?” Aiden had wished, hoped, and dreamed this little boy into existence, and now she might accidentally take him out of it.
Aiden is a hummingbird of a child. She is active from about 7 am to 7 pm everyday. And I don’t mean as in “normal child active.” I mean that she is talking, running, dancing and doesn’t seem to ever stop to breathe. She doesn’t really look you in the eyes often unless she’s making a point and is, as the Aussies say, “Off with the faeries” most of the day. My life is filled with questions, “Why does the sun burn…….why grass grow….who is Hitler and why does everyone hate him…..can I have a cello…..when will my life be different….why am I a bad person….” Her emotions are ever changing and as strong as the tides that seem to bring them. All of her senses are either heightened or dulled all the time. She doesn’t understand the median and will probably never be in it. My daughter does EVERYTHING to the max.
Just breathe. Just pick up the baby. Just don’t cry. “Miss Aiden,” I managed to whisper, “Why did you pick up the baby?” “I was afraid he was going to cry. You know that breaks my brain. I don’t want him to cry. I don’t want him to be sad. I’m just helping him. I’m bouncing him on my knee, did you see?” “I saw, Aiden. I saw. I’m going to call some people and we may need to have ambulance people. Don’t be afraid. Leif just might need some help.” Hands covered in vomit with a now screaming child in my arms, I dialled the phone.
A few calls, an ambulance ride, and some hours later, Leif is giggling and smiling at the specialist paediatrician. “Things like this happen, Heather. Its not your fault.” “Thank you for saying that,” I replied out loud as I thought, but not to me. “Does Aiden ever get violent and how does she feel about her brother?” These were the questions I was dreading. “She does, but usually to herself. She has anxiety issues and suspected sensory processing disorder. She may also lie somewhere on the spectrum. She loves him desperately.” I felt like I was condemning my child. I was being honest. I was saying what they needed to hear. Was it the right thing to say? “I see,” he nodded, “does she see a psychologist and is she being officially assessed for the Autism Spectrum?” “Yes and yes.”
When we got discharged from the hospital after being observed, getting a CT, and receiving the all clear I came to the conclusion that I needed another pair of hands. Then I remembered a video I watched a few months back of a woman who had a service dog trained to stop her from hurting herself during her meltdowns. What if….What if what we needed wasn’t another pair of hands, but a wagging tail and four paws? What if a smiling, furry face can run interference and distract with me? What I could have both worlds? What if I could take care of the baby and also make sure Aiden can regulate her emotions. There ARE dogs trained to do that. I could train a dog to do that.
“Gaynor, I think we should get Aiden a service dog,” read the text. A couple moments later, “That’s a good idea. But how.”
This blog will serve as a ranting, praising, loving, hoping, all round account of how we will find A Dog for Aiden.