The Choices We Make

Helen Horn by Helen Horn Additional Needs

Helen Horn

Helen Horn

I am mum to two young men. My eldest son James, who is 27 years old, has a diagnosis of Wolf- Hirschhorn Syndrome and Autism. On my blog I write ab...

The Choices We Make

When I was pregnant with my first son, I was in a job I enjoyed and I had no reason to think that I wouldn’t be able to continue in that role after my baby’s birth. Other women in my workplace had reduced their hours when they had children and that’s what I had planned to do.

When James was born it gradually became clear that he was going to have some ongoing additional needs. We had no idea to what extent. That didn’t become apparent for some time. As planned, I returned to work part-time, just two days a week. I found a lovely child minder, a mature lady who had no other children to care for when she had James so she had lots of time to give him the attention he needed.

Leaving James was hard, he was so tiny. It was good for me to be back at work although sometimes I felt exhausted from the demands of looking after James and a severe lack of sleep. I was lucky to have a very supportive boss and staff team around me.

Uncertain Times.

Just a few months after my return-to-work James had to have open heart surgery and so I took a period of six weeks off to care for him. During the months that followed he began to have seizures and was regularly in and out of hospital having various tests and sometimes for longer admissions as he was failing to thrive. If James was in hospital, then I was always with him. I was at home or hospital more often than I was at work sometimes.

I was employed by Social Services in a Family Centre. I worked with families who needed some support with parenting their children, some had challenging behaviour, some parents had anger management issues or addictions. Sometimes I was required to supervise access visits and write reports and represent the county council in Court. It was varied. I did a lot of inhouse training in my role and had every intention of going on to do my SW qualification at some point in the future.

I enjoyed being part of a team at work. My time at home with James was often very isolating. My husband worked long and unsociable hours and I spent very little time with friends as their lives with their children felt very different from mine. Fitting in a trip to the shop was difficult enough between James’ two hourly feeds and bouts of vomiting and even more so when his seizures started too.

Then There Were Two.

My youngest son Harry was born when James was three and a half years old. It was then that I made the decision to remain home full time. Both boys had significantly different needs and finding appropriate childcare was going to be challenge and not financially viable. I missed my colleagues, some of whom have become long term friends but my priority was very much my boys.

As the years went by I never did return to work. James’ needs were complex and we were always at medical appointments, assessments or meetings. For many years I felt that my only identity was as ‘James’ Mum’. I didn’t resent it because I’m very proud to be known as James’ mum.

As James got older my roles of mum and carer blended together. I was neither just one or the other, I was both. There may have been times when I felt I’d lost something of myself along the way but given the same situation now I’d make the same choice all over again.

When you look back time goes so quickly, my sons are both now young men 24yrs and 27yrs of age. I wouldn’t have missed a moment of that time I spent at home with them…..maybe a little more sleep would have been nice.

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