While Erik seemed to do quite well in the nursery at church at first, things have definitely taken a turn. The last time we went to church, we found him afterwards in a quiet room playing with one babysitter because the noise inside the nursery had upset him. This type of noise is just too much for his sensitive hearing to handle. He shakes like a leaf and ends up being absolutely inconsolable. While it is beneficial to expose him to some noises out and about, there are definitely some noises that remain absolute torture to him, and the look on his face makes it quite apparent to everyone he is almost in pain and needs to be removed from a situation. You may remember my trip to the computer store a few months ago. Things has really improved in this area. Just yesterday we were at a department store that was undergoing some remodeling, and the scissor lift hoisting men up to the ceiling to work on wiring emitted an ear-piercing series of beeps. Months ago, I would have had to abandon my shopping cart and cut my trip short, but he was fascinated by this piece of equipment and was happy watching it operate, allowing me to leisurely browse through the store while he watched the men work. I was pleased.
Sunday was a different story. I took Erik to the nursery while Brian and his parents found a place to sit. It might have been my imagination, but for a split second I saw something cross the fresh face of one of the two teenage girls working there. I could swear I could see her thinking, "Oh no. Here they come again." I asked if she remembered Erik, and she very quickly said yes. A baby began to screech, and it was instantly all over for Erik. She very unenthusiastically offered to take him to a private room again, but since there were several kids there and only two of them, it didn't make much sense to me, and I said I would sit with him myself and see how things went. That was pretty much the last either of the two girls said to me. It was quite obvious the situation was not going to improve as the screeching from the poor infant continued, and I had a thick sheen of Erik's snot on my blouse. He continued to sob. When it got quiet, he would stop briefly and open his eyes but seemed to remember what had happened and sobbed once more. The baby would cry again, and his sobbing would intensify. He frantically pulled at any loose skin on my neck and seemed to try to climb inside my clothes. I shrugged, smiled, thanked them, and left with Erik. We headed down the hall to the children's chapel, a room that overlooks the sanctuary through a pane of thick glass for the comfort of nursing mothers. The room was full of (you guessed it) more children. Well, that wasn't going to work. Defeated, I found a chair next to the coffee and cookies in the wide hallway. Brian, who was sitting somewhere with his parents inside the sanctuary, apparently ended up vaulting the back of the pew he was sitting in Mary Lou Retton style and scurried out to find me when I failed to return from the nursery in a reasonable amount of time. Brian and I ended up sipping fresh coffee in the hallway halfway attempting to listen to the sermon while we tended to a now happy, hyperactive Erik at the same time. It ended up being a colossal, upsetting waste of time. I couldn't even tell you what the topic of the sermon was. Having awakened for the last time at 2 or 3-something in the morning for the third morning in the row was not helpful, either. I felt fuzzy and unprepared to deal with this situation.
There are times when it seems there is no place for us to just be, bringing on the memories of isolation I once experienced when my infant screamed in agony for months at at time. Now that things are different, Erik would be a complete happy disaster in the sanctuary around adults but still detests being around unfamiliar babies or children who make noise.
Things are better. In fact, everything is wonderful a lot of the time. I know everything will continue to improve if I'm patient.
There are times, though, I still cry in a parking lot here and there.