Our journey through autism

Archive for the ‘introduction’ Category

His Birth

A month before my due date my mom started joking that I will give birth soon, my brother and I were both born 26 days before due date and she said as I was already copying so much from her pregnancies that I would give birth at the same time. So 26 days before my due date, a Monday I had my regular OB check-up, an ultrasound and a NST. I did those and they said that on the ultrasound the baby hasnt grown in the past two weeks, and it would be better to induce labor and have him born. They decided they would do that the next day, the day I turn 37 weeks gestation, they check me out and find that I am already 3 cm dialated. They tell me to go home, pack my stuff and wait for the hospital to call me and tell me my room was ready, I was to spend the night just in case. My mom and I go home, I call my husband, he was having iftar (Ramadan fast breaker meal) with the family and I got to talk to all of them and get squeals of excitment and all. At 7 pm the hospital calls and say they are ready for me, and off we go. Get to the hospital sign in, get checked out, say I am at 5 cm and go to sleep, wake up early the next morning take a shower and get hooked up to the inducement drug Pitocin after 5 needle poke attempts, I was fine and comfortable from 7 am till 11 am when they come in to break my amniotic sac and that’s when the pain started it was like my fluid was a pillow against the cramps, with that gone the pain really started, I didnt want to get an epidural and asked for something else they told me there was a pain medication given in the IV that lasts an hour and I could only take 3 dosages of it, so I take the first one and fall asleep it was so good, it wore off after the hour and tried to bear the pain before I asked for the second one, asked for the second one awhile later and the nurse kept asking me why I didnt want an epidural, I said I heard too many complication stories about it and really didnt want to poke my back, she said with 20 years as a nurse she’s never seen any complications and its perfectly safe and it totally wipes out any pain, so I finally agree, she said before they can give it to me they have to empty a saline solution bag in my IV and that would take some time, as soon as she starts it and leaves I feel pressure and think its the baby’s head, we call the nurse and she said yes I was crowning and there was no time for the epidural I have to start pushing. My OB comes in and they tell me to push, I remember the pain mostly of my OB pushing the skin from around the baby’s head, and the worst was the episiotomy itself , I remember telling myself that if I wanted all this pain to end I must push with all the strength I had and get it over with and I did that with the next 2 pushes and Bilal was born at 12:39 pm almost 6 hours after I went into labor.

Bilal at Birth

He was 4 lbs 12 oz and 17.5 inches long. He was considered a low birth weight baby and was checked out every couple hours, my milk hadn’t come in yet so he was started on formula and a breast pump was brought to my room.  He was not jaundiced and we were released 2 days after he was born.

Crib sticker

The Pregnancy

If I can pinpoint anything to be the cause of Bilal’s autism it would be my pregnancy, with all that went wrong alhamdullah (thank God) its a miracle that all that he came out with was autism.

Bilal was conceived 6 months after we got married, I wasnt on any birth control or needed any fertility treatments, all natural. I quickly gained weight, I didnt suffer from any morning sickness or nausea other than from bad smells, like in bathrooms, trash, raw foods, instead of smelling bad they smelled 100% worse to me, my only aversion were to eggs in any form, and I craved food, lots and lots of food. I hated the taste of my own cooking so had a lot of take out and a lot of my mom’s home cooked meals. Another symptom I had was the inability to fall asleep at night, I just lay there awake for hours and by the time I finally fell asleep it was time to get up for work. I was working an 8 hour day as a business teacher for grades 9-12 up on my feet a lot, using dry erase markers and other teaching/office supplies. At five months it became apparent that my husband would have to leave his current job in Riyadh and we would move to Egypt, I hated the idea of that more than anything and there was a lot of stress on my part and also around that time I started retaining water, my ankles and fingers were swelling, but everything looked fine at the OB’s office. We packed up and moved to Egypt towards the end of my 6th month, I was very unhappy about the move, I was still gaining a lot of weight most of it from the water retention. One day I got really dizzy and it turned out that my blood pressure had spiked up, at one time it was 160/100 I was prescribed Aldomet 250mg, the OB told me to take 2 pills/3 times a day for a total of 6 pills a day of 1500mg. I just had to get out of Egypt and worked out me traveling to the US and staying with my cousin till delivery. While waiting for the travel day to come I got a severe ear infection in my left ear and was prescribed Augmentin an antibiotic to treat it.

I came to the US during the middle of my 7th month, my blood pressure went down, not normal levels but way better than it was in Egypt, my stress leveled off and I was happier, still very swollen with water retention and heavy but feeling good. I went to an OB twice a week, had several ultrasounds to measure the baby, blood work done, non-stress tests (NST) once a week, I was well looked after. I was diagnosed with pregnancy induced hypertension or borderline preeclampsia, still on Aldomet but a lower dosage. At the 37 weeks ultrasound they saw that the baby hadnt grown enough in 2 weeks and decided that I should be induced and that the environment outside the womb would be better for the baby.

So that was the pregnancy, research has shown that high blood pressure and stress increase the risk of autism, but then again a lot of mothers have high blood pressure but don’t have autistic children, I was one of them, my mom had preeclampsia while pregnant with me, her blood pressure spiked way higher than mine every did to the point where a C-section was the safest option… so was it the pregnancy or medications that caused his autism, I like to this so, I had no control over my blood pressure, no control over getting an ear infection, it was all out of my hands as it was his autism, all a trial or gift from God…

Introduction

Hello

Welcome to my blog. This blog is our story with autism, I’ll start from the very beginning, from pregnancy all the way to today, I’ll highlight the early warning signs that I missed, how we went about getting a diagnosis and the therapy and treatments we’re using. In doing so I hope it helps other families that feel something isn’t quiet right with their child and find some answers that may help them.

My name is Sarah, and I am an Egyptian, American, Muslim. I was born in North Carolina and lived my early childhood here in the US, my dad was studying for his PHD and my mom was a stay at home mother looking after me and my younger brother, you can say it was a pretty typical childhood. Once my dad completed his PHD we moved back to Egypt for 4 years, where he was teaching at a local university, my mom taught English as a second language at another university, my brother and I were adjusting to life and school and enjoying all the cousins and extended family that we hadn’t known till then. At this point my parents decided to move back to the US and try their luck so we moved to the little university town of Auburn, Alabama another 2 years here and my parents weren’t really successful and started applying for jobs abroad where my dad was hired at a technical college in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. My parents thought they’d give it a chance, at least they’ll be able to complete an umrah and hajj (pilgrimage) to the Holy cities of Makkah and Madinah if nothing else. You can say the thought of moving to a  desert country where women are forced to cover up scared me and I had myself a huge drama show claiming my parents were ruining my childhood, little did I know that those years in Riyadh were to be the best years of my life and the friends I made during those years are the closest and truest friends I’ve ever had and we’re still friends today, 15 years later. I completed high school between Riyadh and Jeddah and applied for college in Egypt where I studied Business Administration and graduated in 2004. A year later I got engaged and worked as a Business teacher at my old high school in Riyadh for 2 years, got married and pregnant.

That’s my childhood and background, does any of that affect my chances or increases my risk for having a child on the spectrum, who knows, all the forms we fill out ask for the education level of the parents, so to some degree it might, but I doubt it, as we’ve seen autism strike children of parents of different backgrounds, education levels, and social status, but I shared it because it might be helpful to someone out there and it makes me more normal and real to you, a typical person, typical childhood (sans all the moving) and a typical education and career.

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