I have decided to add to this blog the story of our life, loving and raising a child living with mental illness. This is a document that I began many years ago and have updated over the years to capture this life journey we have been on with our beloved Zack. This begins at his birth and followes his trials and tribulations over the years, as well as the daily ups and downs of our family in whole. I decided to publish this (with Zack’s blessing “if it may help someone”)to you all in hopes it will reach some mom, dad or grandparent who is also on this journey, feeling lost and helpless, opening up our life and darkest times in hopes it will allow others who live this life as well to realize YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I will publish “the story” daily and page at a time so that when I am done you will have the entire document to read, print or share.
So, today, begins with page 1.
It was early Thursday March 23, 1995, after 15 hours of labor, a precious gift, my special angel entered this world. It was 5:15 am, and Zachery Lewis Hix was here, 6lbs. 15 ounces, looking not like the beautiful baby I had pictured but displaying the battle wounds of a difficult labor. Scratches and bruises left on his tiny head that were the result of the use of suction and forceps the doctor used to finally get him here. My first words were “my baby has a cone head”!!!!! Perfect in every way, ten toes and ten fingers, and once his newborn cap was placed on his head to cover the wounds and the distorted skull, he looked like that perfect, beautiful baby in all the pictures. I had been waiting for this day for so long, my husband and I anxiously awaited the birth of our first child. I have wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember, and now my prayers and dreams were coming true. Certainly no baby in the entire world was ever more wanted and more loved than our newest miracle. It still amazes me to see this child, now 17, a smart, loving,exciting, charismatic, intelligent, and…..DIFFICULT boy, was once nothing but a dream I had.
The miracle of human creation is just something I can not even begin to understand. It is just a fact, just something you accept. From the day I found out I was pregnant I began writing the experience in a book for him to read when he is older, so that he will know how much he was wanted, loved, cared for and how lucky he is to have such a wonderful, supportive family, immediate and extended.
As I was soon to discover, this new life, this miracle would soon bring along with the love much turmoil, grief, chaos, questions, depression & resentment to our lives. It is so difficult to understand how a child you love so dearly, with all of your heart, can cause such conflicting emotions within a matter of seconds; love, adoration, resentment, back to love, adoration etc……
My pregnancy was wonderful. I was one of those people who loved being pregnant. I cherished every minute, especially when the baby within began kicking and moving. I would drink water all day just to get the baby to move. I felt good the entire pregnancy, was never nauseous, ate healthy food and continued to work out at my gym 5 days a week. I did not drink, smoke, or even go into a building where there were heavy smokers. The end results would most definitely be a healthy, beautiful, normal baby. Wouldn’t it?
My husband and I were soon to find out life is not all that easy. We don’t always get what we expect. Once arriving home with our wonderful, most cherished gift, things would quickly become hectic. My son turned out to be terrible at nursing, only “snacking” as the nurse told me; therefore he nursed or “ate” every one and a half hours. This is not an easy task!! He never seemed satisfied and was very fussy, that is putting is mildly, fussy does not even come close to describing it !! Along with the constant demand on my body to nourish my child he refused to sleep for any extended length of time, instead he napped off and on, even at night. During the day he would only nap if I was holding him. Inching ever so slowly towards his crib to place him gently to sleep he would immediately wake up screaming as soon as his body would touch his sheet, and only stop once he was held. We would try rocking him as we crept towards the crib and always ever so slowly placing him in the crib, but always he would wake up.
Now, this may sound silly, and many people said “just let him cry”. Well, I did…he would not cry, he screamed until he made himself sick. To let and infant cry for hours seemed torturous to me, but I did, day after day, night after night, on advice from his pediatrician and many well meaning individuals. So he would cry non stop, he would not cry himself to sleep, he just screamed until he made himself sick, for hours, only letting up when someone came in to hold him.
During the day I had to carry him around in a sling while doing housework because he screamed so hard when I put him down it was unbearable to me. He screamed so hard and so long I really thought he was going to hurt himself. He would not sit in a swing, he would not play in a playpen, and he would not be satisfied with anything but being held. It did not take long for my husband and me to become irritable, and angry with each other due to sleep deprivation, this is easy to comprehend when you consider we only got 2-3 hour naps at night. My husband could not function at work, and I quickly became depressed. Many days I could not get dressed due to the continuous nursing and having no rest because the baby had to be held at all times. He was just never satisfied, never content. I knew this was somehow not normal infant behavior. He was extreme in every way. (See below for continuation Page 2)
(Page 2 tomorrow)