WELCOME to our first Music Mantra post of 2015. A little embarassing but I've been crazy busy. I digress.
Alrighty, for those who remember our award-winning blog, The Gift, my family are HUGE Beatles fans. Jaimie loves John, Jordy loves Paul, Xander loves George and little SophSoph is a Ringo fan, like her Mama. I may have had a slight influence on them since they've each been listening to the group since utero. hehehe
This post, in celebration of Jaimie's 12th birthday, is going to highlight the song, Blackbird. Although Jaimie is one of the biggest mini-fans of John EVER, this song is very precious to her...to all of us. Not only am I going to share a video of the song, I will also share an excerpt from my memoir about Jaimie called, "Not Just Spirited: A Mom's Sensational Journey With Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)".
For those who don't know our history and story, Jaimie was born with a disorder that interferes with how her brain interpretes and processes sensory information taken in from the environment. Basically, information goes in ("That's hot! Don't touch!" "That's just the wind, don't be scared." "That is a 'good' sound, it's okay."), but her brain doesn't understand what to do with the message. And if the brain can't process something, it can't tell the body how to appropriately react to that something. So Jaimie was scared of anything that smelled, looked, sounded, smelled, tasted or felt 'weird' or that her brain couldn't say...it's okay, Jaimie. She was also uncoordinated, avoided any kind of activities where her feet had to leave the ground, etc. Since there wasn't alot of information out there at the time when she was younger on SPD, we went through hell on earth for the first SEVEN YEARS of her life. Yes, we did get some assistance after she turned two, but without a proper diagnosis, there can be no proper treatment.
That's why I wrote about it. Talked about it. Shared about it. Taught about it. GAVE IT A NAME. Then...people wanted to learn more.
One way I have always been able to reach my kids, no matter how far off they seemed (and TRUST ME...there were times when Jaimie was so far gone, she didn't respond at all...for days...), was through music. There was one precious day when it hit really close to home how important music was when I tried everything to reach my sweet girl and the only thing that worked, was singing 'Blackbird' to her. I swore from that day forward that no matter what, I would have the chance to thank those men for all they've done for me and my children. Here's the scene. (It starts a few months into my pregnancy with Jordy.) And one important note to make is that it was an amazing thing. When I sang that song to her, her crying got calmer and calmer...as she stared into the sky blankly...until she'd allow me to touch her. And, for some odd reason, it worked with Xander too (who is also on the Spectrum and has SPD).
These are the stories Paul (and all of them) should hear.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JAIMIE!
P.S. For those interested in reading about our experience with Paul, go to the November 30th 2012 post on I made about our experience on Facebook. It is one of the few I made public. <3
I was very sick for the first five months of the pregnancy. This was unacceptable to Jaimie, who was used to me jumping to her every need when it was demanded. As my baby bump grew, so did Jaimie’s tantrums and our concerns for her.
One night, about five months into the pregnancy, I was awakened by a steady thumping noise on our bedroom wall. It was similar to the sound of a bouncing ball. I crept into Jaimie’s room, as that’s where the sound came from, and found Jaimie in her crib ramming her head into her headboard. I had no idea how long she’d been at it but her head-banging was so strong she had moved her crib practically across the room.
Night frights were nothing new. Nor was her banging her head on the wall. But doing it in her sleep was new and it scared me. I rushed over to shove something between her head and the headboard only to find everything in her bed on the floor. The weird thing was her bed toys weren’t just tossed around; they were neatly lined up beside where her bed had been. The head banging got harder so I instinctively tried shoving my hand between her head and the headboard only to curse out loud at the impact.
I must have startled her because she stopped suddenly and turned to me. I’ll never forget the look on her little face: eyes wide open, a goose egg the size of a large marble on her forehead and her face shiny from tears and drool. She screamed, stood up, then head-butted me in the belly. She knocked the wind out of me but, at the time, I was more concerned that Jaimie would knock herself unconscious than whether she’d hurt the baby.
After about an hour, it was over. She laid back down and I watched her until I saw her back slowly raise and fall. It was then that I realized I hadn’t felt the baby move since before I went into Jaimie’s room.
I laid on my back on the couch for several minutes until I finally felt a hearty kick in my side. Then I cried until the sun came up. In the morning I told Steve everything that had happened and I’m not sure whether he completely believed me. But he was scared too, especially for me and the baby.
“That’s it,” he said. “There’s no way she can be allowed to do that. What if next time she hurts the baby? Or you?”
“It’s fine,” I said. “Don’t worry about it. She didn’t do it on purpose. She was asleep.”
He shook his head at me. “What if next time she does it when she’s awake?” he asked. “You can’t do everything all by yourself. Not right now.”
I knew he was right but what was I supposed to do? The only time I’d left her with Steve since she’d been born was when I had to write an exam for university. And although they survived, it didn’t go as well as I’d hoped it would.
When I’d gotten home from that exam, there was a note that Steve had taken Jaimie to run around in the field behind our apartment building. We’d done that a lot whenever Jaimie had trouble napping or seemed to need to work off some excess energy. I’d gone out to meet them. From a distance I’d seen Steve walking a safe distance behind Jaimie as she ran around in circles with her arms flapping. Steve had tried picking her up and she’d reacted by throwing herself backwards, screaming.
As she’d kicked her feet at him, screaming, “No! Want Mama!” I remember walking faster toward them, then running as fast as a women could at thirty-five weeks pregnant. By the time I’d gotten to her, she was too far-gone for me to calm. There we all were in the middle of the field, Jaimie screeching on her back with her legs and arms flailing; Steve staring at her with his hands on his hips; and me on my knees waiting for an opening to try to get her to listen to me. So I did the only thing I knew that worked: I sang to her Paul McCartney's song, "Blackbird".
She didn’t calm down completely but I saw in her eyes she’d heard me. When that didn’t work I sang Wiggles songs, hummed Mozart, heck, I even threw in a Michael Bublé song or two. Then I just sang "Blackbird" over and over until my voice was hoarse. After about half-an hour, she calmed enough for us to take her home and put down for a rest. Once I put her to bed, I laid down too. I didn’t tell Steve this but after my sprint in the field, I started experiencing cramps and false labor (and continued to until I went into full labor a couple of weeks later.)
After that incident, I silently promised two things: That I’d always be there for Jaimie, even if I had to give up my own things; and second, if I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her, I’d do what I could to calm her. And boy, did we need to do a lot of calming over the next few weeks.