I’ve had a few jobs in my life so far.
I started working at a fairly young age, slinging burgers and fries at a concession stand at our local rodeo arena. From there, I worked at another burger joint, did a stint building grain storage bins, worked as a cashier in retail, spent half a summer telemarketing,the other half as a tour guide, office jockey, herbicide field researcher, design engineer, finally ending up as an operations engineer at an industrial plant.
I chose to leave paid work entirely to focus on raising our young family, especially important to support our son’s SPD and whatever other letters/diagnoses will likely soon follow.
Being a parent, I’ve gained an interesting set of skills, some of which have actually helped me in the working world.
When I returned to work after our son was born, I found that I was definitely a more compassionate manager. Being a breastfeeding mom certainly helped me to be a lot more relaxed, thanks to the oxytocin rush I’d get from nursing. I was better able to relate to people and understand and empathize with their point of view, while still maintaining my authority to make and enforce the final decision.
However, I’ve gained one … ahem … “skill” that doesn’t transfer to the engineering workplace.
I now have significant skill and experience in being a poop doula, coaxing my son on an all-too-frequent basis to push the poop out, just give me X number of pushes, I know it hurts your bum but it needs to come out, and so on.
Starting when he was about 10 months old, about the same time when we were able to get him to ingest anything other than breast milk, he started having trouble with his bowels. He always strained to poop.
By the time he was a year old, we were seeing real problems. The ability to push to defecate – I guess that would involve the interoceptive sense – was just something he couldn’t organize. He said he was pushing, but he was actually clenching to hold it in. The feeling of poop passing, being just that little bit out of control, really freaks him out.
I did everything I could to keep his bowels very loose and soft so they would pass easily. I plied him with peaches, pears, prunes, plums, apricots, peas, apples, flax, flax seed oil, beans, whole grain everything, lots of liquids, pumped breast milk (meant for his sister, but offered to him in yet another fit of desperation to just get him to poop), rewards with chocolate chips, raisins, money or other treats, and suppositories when necessary.
When things finally got really bad, on the recommendation of the pediatrician, we started giving him PEG-3350 (aka Restoralax or Miralax). It works, but he’s been on it for two and a half years now and we cannot take him off. If we miss even one day, like we accidentally did last Saturday, it takes weeks to get him back on track.
Missing this dose was a blessing in disguise, as he was in the throes of a full-on poop-fuelled anxiety attack during our intake meeting with the autism team.
However, after spending the last few days pleading, begging, and demanding he poop, alternating with simply ignoring the problem hoping he’d just get his interoceptive sense magically realigned, I’m nearing the end of my rope. I know from my past experiences that we’ve almost got his bowels re-regulated.
I need to hold onto that knowledge and keep my wits about me, because this likely won’t be the last time we go through this. I just wish we didn’t have to.