"Here's the story..."

I completely forgot to announce this yesterday {FAIL!!!} - the winners of the passes to the Liberty Science Center!!! There were very few entries (ahem, two) so I decided that everyone wins! Jenny and Shannon, I will be contacting you as soon as this is posted! Hooray for winning stuff- I know you guys will have a blast at the LSC!


Part One:

After six months of waiting, the day arrived. January 25th, 2012, the day of PJ's evaluation with the Early Childhood Development Team at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

The appointment was for 9am, which meant we had to get up, fed, dressed and over the bridge into Philly during the morning rush hour. When he had his evaluation for Early Intervention, I cleaned like a psychopath. In the same manner in which I prepared for his Early Intervention eval, I cleaned. But in this case, it was us, not the apartment! I dressed PJ with my usual care (PJ has a great wardrobe!) and dressed myself as well as I could (I do not have a great wardrobe, but the fruits of some Christmas gifts served me well). I made sure my hair was straightened and my makeup was nice. Pete, us usual, looked nice in that effortless way that men have. Casual but not stuffy or anything. If first impressions were going to mean anything, I was making sure ours was a good one!

I somehow managed to go off on a fashion tangent there. Sorry for that Stacey and Clinton moment.

The office wasn't located at the main hospital but rather in a satellite office on the campus of Drexel University. The air had a collegiate feel to it, but the waiting area had the familiar feel of CHOP. We checked in and after a few minutes, we were called back. I could feel my blood pounding in my ears as we walked through the door- I had a feeling of jumping off a cliff or cresting the highest curve of a roller coaster.

We were greeted by a nurse who took PJ's vitals and then led us to an exam room. The exam was conducted by a wonderful nurse practitioner named Monica. As she interacted with PJ Dr. L, the developmental pediatrician, would observe PJ through a two-way mirror in an adjacent room. I shook each of their hands while I shook inside- my nerves were right at the surface. In my heart, I knew that it was likely that PJ was autistic, but I wanted the exam to go well just the same. I wanted Monica and Dr. L to get a glimpse of the funny, handsome, bright Boy I knew despite what might be "wrong".

Pete and I were asked to sit and PJ and Monica played. The room, though small, boasted a child-sized table and was dotted with toys and games. PJ jumped right in, examining the toys, putting together puzzles, and joined Monica in some drumming. A jar of goldfish crackers, lid on, were left out in PJ's line of vision in the hope that he would somehow request that the jar be opened. He eventually did so by bringing the jar to me and placing it in my hands.

At one point, Monica picked up a doll and held it out to PJ, who promptly selected a bottle from the jumble of toys and brought it to the dolls mouth, sending Pete and I into laughter and prompting a questioning look from Monica.

"PJ was breastfed for twenty months! I think he's had about four bottles in his lifetime- he went from the breast straight to a sippy cup! Where did he learn that?" I laughed. We chatted for a few minutes about breastfeeding before she turned her full attention back to PJ.

Pete leaned in and whispered, "At least he didn't try to nurse the doll!"

"At least he's pretending something, " I whispered back. "He can pretend he has boobs if he wants!"

Monica continued to play with PJ, take notes, and ask Pete and I questions in a seamless fashion. It did not take very long for Pete and I to feel comfortable and relaxed. PJ took to Monica beautifully and the exam was going well. I wondered what the doctor was thinking behind the mirror and felt a bit like Dorothy before she knew that Oz was just some dude.

Pete and I were surprised to learn that there was a physical exam, too. PJ's ears were checked, his stomach palpitated, his heart and lungs were given a listen. His skin was examined under a black light called a Wood's lamp to check for a  condition called tuberous sclerosis. His boy bits were looked at to make note of his hypospadias repair. Much to PJ's chagrin, his ears were studied, bringing on a mini tantrum that was quickly abated by the offer of  his paci!

Once we had PJ dressed we all settled back into our chairs. Dr. L and Monica let us know that we would need to return in two weeks to discuss the results. We had been warned about this possibility when we made the appointment- often, results could be given right away but other times, the details of the exam had to be looked at more thoroughly to determine if there would be a diagnosis. Pete and I had been hoping for a faster resolution, but were okay with returning. We tried not to speculate as to what that could mean as we headed home. And by "we tried not to speculate", we dissected every little moment of his visit and what it might mean when we came back.

Later that day, I tucked PJ into bed for a nap, read him a story and kissed his head. I whispered thanks to him for being so brave as he wrapped his arms around me for a hug. It was one of those moments where nothing mattered but my best Boy.

Later that night, I tossed in bed, unable to sleep. It was one of those moments when nothing mattered but my best Boy.

{part two tomorrow}

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