“Looking good – Miss Alexa is in the 50th percentile for height and she’s still a petite little thing – just at the 10th percentile for weight.”
I smile internally. Enjoy it now, kid. If you’re part of this family, you won’t be a string bean for long… Even so, I want to make sure she’s healthy – of course.
“Is she too skinny? Should I be giving her more fattening foods?” I ask the doc.
“No, she’s growing right along the same curve since birth. She was a little ‘heavier’ as a baby – if you call the 20th percentile heavier – but she’s thinning out. She’s not too skinny, I can tell by looking at her that she’s just really busy.”
Okay, busy works. Then I watch as the doctor goes through the questions/concerns paper that I’ve filled out. Over the past 15 months, I’ve circled “no” for everything. This time I circled “a little” under one question.
“I see you’re a little concerned about Alexa’s speech. Tell me your concerns – does she have words?”
This conversation is one I’ve both been anxiously awaiting and slightly dreading. I honestly was ‘a little’ concerned, trying to be more laid back with the second child about everything. No books, no charts, no milestone checking. But as of a month ago, people started asking me about certain speech milestones and I started to worry if she was behind. Which snowballed from behind into thoughts of something more serious, even though deep down I know she’s fine. I can’t just have a little worry about anything, I start thinking the worst. It’s just how I am.
I take a deep breath and begin. ”Well, she says “HI!” quite enthusiastically when people come into the room, and she has full-on babble conversations all day long, pretending to be on the phone, talking to her toys, pointing to everything. She uses objects with purpose, tries to wear everyone’s shoes… understands no and shakes her head… She says “YAY!” and claps and dances when music comes on…”
I can tell I’m talking a bit too much, delaying the inevitable.
The doctor smiles. “Does she say ‘Mama’ and ‘Dada’ with purpose? Can she name an object or a part of her body?”
“Ummmm, no. No, she doesn’t. We’re actually working on her pointing to her nose but she points to her eye instead. She gives eye contact and shows love and is really engaged. She’s not on the path to autism, is she?”
The doctor senses my worry. “No, she’s really engaged and she comprehends simple commands. She is going to be just fine, don’t even think about autism – she is clearly not autistic. She is just showing a slight delay with speech. You can’t even call it a delay for a couple more months. It’s just on average, most children are doing the Mama/Dada thing and maybe a word or two more.”
She tells me that the first step would be a hearing test, although I explain that we’ve done our own hearing tests at home by calling her from another room and whispering from behind her. The doctor agrees that it’s probably fine, but always good to rule it out. She recommends we wait until 17 months and then call her with any progress before doing the hearing test. We might be surprised that the words start coming fast and furious. Then, if nothing is happening, we’ll look into the hearing test and then potentially getting her evaluated.
I know dozens of children with speech delays, autism, Aspergers, and various learning disabilities. The thought of having her evaluated doesn’t scare me, but I guess what scares me is thinking something is seriously wrong and that turns into thoughts of she’ll have a difficult time making friends, she’ll be teased, she’ll have a hard life. Even though I am pretty confident she’ll talk eventually, it’s just the not knowing. Like my friends who had late walkers. If we had the hindsight of knowing things would happen later rather than never, we could relax a little.
I ask my speech pathologist friend in our MyGym class today why I now can’t stop thinking about this. I confide that I just worry that she’ll never talk. She looks at me and makes me feel immediately better with one quick diagnosis – she says that 15 months is too early to worry this much and that of all the kids she’s worked with, they all talk, just late. I’d know if something was seriously wrong.
Oh. This hasn’t even crossed my mind in this cloud of worry. She will probably talk, just late. I can deal with late. Maybe I should lay off the worries about her not having a normal life for a bit. It’s just hard. All sanity kind of disappears when it’s your kid. Imagine how I’d be if she had a serious medical problem. I am embarrassed to admit that it’s crossed my mind that this is all my fault because I was on medication during my pregnancy with her. This parenting thing is rough, man.
To be continued…
Ryan licks both hands and then goes to hug me.
“Ugh, gross Ry! Please don’t lick your hands and then touch me.”
“I didn’t lick my hands.”
“Yes, you did. You don’t even realize it. You constantly put your fingers in your mouth and you’re picking up germs – you’re going to get sick. This is why you have that red mark on your face. Please try and stop.”
“I can’t help it – my brain tells me to do it. My fingers need to be wet to be soft.”
There goes my 3 week attempt at not mentioning his finger-licking tic. I tried so hard, but I fell off the wagon. I know some kids have compulsions and transient tics at this age. In the past couple of months since this started, I’ve talked to lots of people and hopefully it passes, or he learns to control it… or it will turn into something else and eventually, hopefully subside. I’ve had people tell me they blink their eyes, put their hand to their mouth, rub their arm, twirl their hair (me included), and other lovely things. It’s the same worry – that he will look different, act different, be different and people will make fun of him. Life is tough enough without your peers constantly asking why you thrust your fingers into your mouth all day quick as a jackhammer.
My job is just to make sure that they don’t pick up on my worry. Because that will make it worse. Although I seem like a maniac at the moment writing about this, I really try not to mention anything around him and tell others not to acknowledge it, either.
Still, my mind won’t turn off at night before bed – tic, talk. Tic, talk. Tic, talk…