I think in trying to share part of our parenting journey with a speech delayed child I may have accidentally taken credit for Norah’s accomplishments. But we know first hand that you cannot make a child do anything they are either unable or unwilling to do. We are trying to give Norah what she needs to do HER best. She’s the one doing it.
Last November as I stood in line to vote I overheard a mom behind me interacting with her child. I was jealous at how natural it all seemed because it could have been a video for the Hanen program. That mom would later tell me that she had no training in speech pathology….that she simply loved talking to her child. It’s a beautiful thing to witness in a society where we’re often too busy to truly engage our children on what THEY find interesting. But that deliberate, conversational interaction is what Stu and I had been attempting at home in an effort to further Norah’s language development. It did not feel natural. Did I not like talking to my child? Of course I did…do. It was in telling my mom this story that the difference peered out at me. The child was reacting, prompting, participating. Speech delayed children may not yet know how to further an interaction by pointing or even looking up. Having a conversation with someone who doesn’t appear interested is difficult. And speech therapy for us was just that. Having nearly constant unrequited conversations. When I lamented to Dr. Mervis (read about her research here) that Norah was seldom interested in what I was saying she wisely reminded me that Norah did not yet know how to show me she was interested. We can truly see the difference now that Charlie is here. He begs you with a smile and a coo to sing your song again or to describe the kitchen in vivid detail or to read him the phone book even….just talk. But the children who need that kind of repetition don’t naturally beg for it. Being raw and honest I’ll admit that I found it exhausting most days to keep up this level of chit chat. Naming things, repeating, repeating, long pauses where a response might go, emphasizing sounds, making up songs, holding objects near my mouth to direct attention, noticing what Norah finds interesting and talking about that, narrating everything. There were hours and days that I could not keep it up, where the reciprocal silence got me so down that I let it take over. But for the most part this has become part of our everyday. And exciting things are beginning to emerge. It started with a reach. Then a reach and some eye contact. Then some verbalizations. Then handing us objects to turn on or open. And I nearly cried right there the day Norah, across a crowded and busy rec room, held up a plastic banana for me to see and verbalized something that I was too far away to hear. Now she’s starting to draw our attention to things just to share that she likes them. That’s right! JUST for conversation. I keep wondering why a gesture so seemingly small gets my emotions overflowing but now that I’ve typed it all out the answer is apparent.
Here’s a video of Norah showing off some fine motor and communication skills this morning. I know that it doesn’t seem all that exciting. But if you’re immersed in Norah’s care and see how hard she tries and if you love her as thoroughly as I know many of you do then I know you’ll be excited for her amazing progress.
Tomorrow morning will mark a full week since Norah’s tummy bug began. While her symptoms resolved Saturday morning the weekend was scary. Dehydration. She came VERY close to needing iv fluids again. We ended up forcing a mixture of water and pedialyte down her throat with a medicine syringe. One teaspoon every 10 minutes for every waking hour. Sometimes she’d accept it reluctantly, usually there was a good bit of resistance. But she didn’t spit it out so it worked! No hospital and no iv!!
I really wish we had tried this the first time she was sick. I’m just not a “tough love” kind of parent. I’m forever trying to think of any and every way to get my kids to do the difficult things willingly and maybe even happily. And amongst all of my efforts to get Norah to TAKE fluids it honestly never occurred to me to GIVE them to her.
I’m still unsure what category of parent I fit under. I know that like the majority of my counterparts I’m a loving parent. How that love gets doled out is ever evolving. This past weekend it was by the teaspoon every 10 minutes.
Trying out the WordPress app on my iPod and somehow trying to let go of this horrible day. Week. There’s some implication there that a mom’s day is ever done. It is not…least of all when your child is sick. Norah’s getting attacked by a second tummy bug. Her first one sent her to the hospital for dehydration and that was merely three weeks ago. When I get back around to my thankful place I’ll be thankful that Norah didn’t have to deal with this stuff sooner. But today I’m so pissed that she got hit twice like this. It’s not right.
I should be ashamed of how long it’s taken me to blog about my
newborn, uh, infant son, Charlie. Better late than never! Never is a possibility, though. Will he wake up before I can hit “publish”?
Charlie was born 12/3/12. He weighed 8 pounds even and was 21 inches long. I got my date!!!! Now both of my children have 1,2,3 birth dates. We attempted a vbac but a long labor led to decelerations and another c-section. Eerily similar to Norah’s birth story. You can imagine our horror, when about 5 hours after Charlie’s arrival, a nurse came and whisked him off to the nicu. He wasn’t regulating his blood sugar. And there he stayed for 5 days. Each time we believed he was starting to hold his own blood sugar-wise he’d have another dip.
I was a mess wondering, why, for pete’s sake, we couldn’t just have one normal birth experience. And I studied Charlie’s face, his actions, searching for something “wrong”. And I think Stu was doing the same. So much had gone wrong in the days and weeks following Norah’s birth. It’s all we knew.
But as doctors had promised, Charlie’s pancreas took over the job of regulating his blood sugar and he was sent home with a clean bill of health. He has been diagnosed with reflux since but is otherwise healthy and typically developing. In fact, at just over 3 month old now, Charlie has doubled his birth weight. Whoa!
Charlie will draw you in with his smile. He’s often so delighted to see my face that he’ll crumple in the middle, look away sheepishly for a second and then turn his mouth into a little O and coo. It makes my heart flutter EVERY time. He’s so vocal already. He’ll chat with you or yell at the toy he’s batting overhead. And maybe just because fine motor skills were so delayed for Norah we are amazed at how well he can already use his hands.
Charlie lets his needs be known and also makes it known that those needs are priority level NOW. It’s probably a good thing. I can see a more laid back baby getting forgotten in our busy house. He likes to be held. Hates riding in the car. And the stroller. And until just recently even the carrier. Charlie meets nearly every qualification on Dr. Sears’ list of “you might have a high needs baby if…”. I don’t know where these “easy” babies are that I hear people whispering about. Probably hanging out with a sasquatch somewhere.
And still with all of that, life is leaps and bounds easier than it was when Norah was Charlie’s age. Life was intense back then. Our jump into the parenting pool had landed us in class 5 rapids. But things did slow down and the ride became crazy enjoyable. And what a gift that experience was to us as parents, and now to Charlie. We still get overwhelmed and it’s still so much work, caring for an infant. But we know we’re headed to calmer waters and that gives us the wisdom to spend at least a few moments enjoying where we are. Charlie certainly is an enjoyable, engaging little baby…..who looks just like his daddy. Life is good!