It’s true that our baby wasn’t formally diagnosed with OCD till she was three years old, but the events that led up to our getting her, and us, some help were nothing short of heartbreaking. As we looked back, the most notable signs of symptoms began to appear around the one-year mark. The most epic hum-dinger event that marked that age was really the first classic manifestation of OCD as we learned about it later. Up until this day, we’d actually chalked the “incidents” we’d had up as fussy-baby stuff, and figured they were bumps in the road of pre-toddlerhood, waiting for her to outgrow them as babies “usually do”. As it happens, this day was the beginning of literally a journey of a lifetime.
It was a normal evening with me in the kitchen preparing dinner and the baby was sitting in her high chair, facing me as I scurried around. Daddy and big brother were busy elsewhere in the house with this or that. Cheerios were being chased around on the high chair tray by the cutest little fingers, and all was right with the world. In what seemed like the snap of your fingers, the air was filled with the most hideous, painful, hysterical screaming you’d ever heard. I leapt across the kitchen, Daddy and big brother rushed into the room from where they were in the house, and we were all frantically trying to see what in the world could be causing this terrible outburst. Surely, there must be something pinching or cutting her! Had a bee stung her?! The sounds coming from her were those caused from sudden, severe pain, not fussy-baby sounds. Her little face looked fearful and panicked, and it was taking on the dark red, almost purplish hue that only comes from the deep gasping of hysterical screaming. She was shaking, her little arms were flailing, and it had come on so suddenly that we were all desperate to find the answer… NOW! She seemed to be looking past us and in the direction of the cabinets over where I’d been working before. We’d checked every possible cause that we could think of; high chair straps, tray table, clothes, bib, teeth… Finally, desperate, and grasping at straws, I stepped back and tried to look in the direction she’d been looking. I saw the cabinet door above the stove was ajar. As a force of habit, I reached up and closed it. Just like that… SILENCE! That was it. She went right back to her Cheerios. Her little red cheeks were hot with tears, but that was all that remained for her because that itch had been scratched.
From there, we were much more tuned in to what might possibly qualify as similar “symptoms”, even though we still didn’t “get it”. There just wasn’t any information about these sorts of things. Even our pediatrician wasn’t able to really help us at that point. This was the mid-‘90’s and OCD just wasn’t something he would naturally “jump” to, I’m sure.
That had been our first frightening encounter with her OCD. It hadn’t had a name yet, but it was clear to us that she’d been suffering and needed our help. And so began the commitment to our family’s quest to see her through.