The Mummy Diaries: One baby, one threenager – Week 7

The Mummy Diaries: One baby, one threenager – Week 7

by Emma Hargan
article from Tuesday 17, September, 2019

ANOTHER CHALLENGING WEEK over with! Hard work, persistence and always listen to your Mum is the secret to parenthood and life in general actually.

Jamie has always been a bit of a late developer and usually hit all the baby milestones, eventually. I’ve always been a bit of panicker, so when Jamie wasn’t rolling over, or crawling, or walking when what felt like everyone else’s baby was, I was getting worried. My Mum (pictured) always said to me, never compare your child to anyone else, they are all different and Jamie will roll over when he is good and ready. And so he did. She also told me he would crawl when he is good and ready. And he did. And then he would walk. And guess what? But the stage that never happened was the talking clearly.

Jamie is a blether box and would chat the hind legs off a donkey if you let him but none of it makes sense. It’s baby babble. Now I was told by the doctors and the nurses that baby babble is totally normal when Jamie was a year old. I was also told by the same professionals that it was still normal at two years old and not to worry, he will grow out of it and start chatting. This was still happening when Jamie turned three years old. Panic. So, when Jamie had his final appointment with the Public Health Nurse, I expressed my concerns and she told me not to worry, but she will refer Jamie to see a Speech and Language Therapist. She also advised that there was a waiting list and she was unsure when I would hear but hopefully not too long. Ah well, I thought, Jamie will no doubt be starting University before I hear anything, like every other waiting list in the country!

But I was wrong.

Two weeks before Jamie was due to start nursery, I got a letter through from the GP Surgery scheduling Jamie for his first appointment. Just a plain automated letter with no other information or details other than the date, time and location of the appointment.

Great! Now Jamie’s speech has come on leaps and bounds since the summer but he is still doing the baby babble. Not as much, but it’s still happening. It’s honestly like his brain is working faster than his mouth! What we seemed to notice as well is, this usually happens when he gets excited or meets new people. When Jamie is at home with us, he speaks and it is easily understandable.

So when the letter arrived, like every other stage, I had my mum’s voice in my head saying, Jamie will start chatting when he is good and ready – don’t worry.

And I didn’t worry, until Jamie started nursery.

The morning of Jamie’s first day at nursery arrived. As you have read before in my previous blogs, other than the ‘normal’ stresses of wondering how he was going to get on, I was doing pretty well. Of course I still had the questions of ‘would he like it there?’ – ‘would he make friends?’ rattling around in my mind and the other things I had to remember like his packed lunch, his change of clothes, wellies and the paperwork I needed. Good, okay we are on track and the first day couldn’t have gone any better. And the second, and third. Brilliant!

By the time Thursday arrived, we were well sorted with the new routine and I was lured into that false sense of security that everything was going perfect. Jamie, Lily and I walked up to the nursery as usual and went to sign in at the desk. The lady was there to greet us just like every other morning and Jamie started doing his baby babble and having a conversation with her.

The lady then looked up at me and asked, “Is he going to speech therapy?”

The place was packed out with mums, dads and kids and my face went scarlet!

“Er, yes actually he’s starting his first appointment today.” I answered.

“Oh that’s fine”, she replied. “It’s just the girls in the classroom were asking me as Jamie seems to be having a full-blown conversation and he seems to think we’re all understanding what he’s saying.”

Now I know the lady was just trying to help and most definitely had no idea she had touched a nerve but I was just caught off guard and embarrassed in front of everyone. So, panic mode set in. ‘Oh God, this isn’t normal. They haven’t seen this before. Something’s wrong!’

After a full morning of winding myself up, worrying and the fear of the unknown of the afternoon’s appointment, by the time I collected Jamie from nursery I was feeling pretty stressed. No one seemed to know what the speech and language appointments involved. Was Jamie the only kid at the age of three going to them? Should I have got Jamie to see the therapist sooner? How are they going to make him speak?

All these questions going round and round in my head. Panic.

3.30pm and Jamie and I are waiting patiently to be called. Jamie of course is totally oblivious as to what’s going on and is standing in the middle of the waiting room floor telling everyone to “get up and dance” as there was a radio playing in the background. Everyone of course thought this was hilarious and was dancing along with Jamie. Thankfully, a lady walked around the corner and said, “Jamie Hargan?” I took Jamie’s hand and we followed her through to an office at the end of the corridor.

“Hi Jamie!” the lady said brightly. “I’m Kelly, nice to meet you” while putting her hand out to greet Jamie.

Jamie smiled but shyly grabbed me leg. Kelly then said, “How about a high five?” At which point Jamie smiled and smacked her hand.

“Great okay guys, have a seat and I’ll explain what’s happening and answer any questions you might have.” Kelly said.

I sat listening to the lady explain the usual process of the speech therapy while Jamie sat on the floor and played with the cars. Kelly spent the next 45 minutes asking me questions all about Jamie. Everything from how he was born as a C-Section to how he plays with his toys. In all honesty, it felt like an interrogation and by the end of it I was wondering how any of this was relevant.

“Okay.” She said, “We’ll see you next week at the same time.”

“Right, but how is this got anything to do with helping Jamie speak?” I asked.

“Oh I just need to ask these questions to make sure we can rule out anything else.” Kelly replied.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Er, well, we need to make sure that there is nothing preventing Jamie from talking, like his hearing, or possibly autism or anything else.”

Is it just me, or do medical people think it’s totally normal to just casually throw in serious shit in to the conversation and then expect you to go, ‘Okay, cool, thanks for clearing that up!’

“Errrr, what?!” I said astounded.

“Oh, don’t worry. At this early stage it’s impossible to say but a couple of your answers to my questions have signalled a couple of red flags for me, so we need to spend time looking at those.” Kelly said casually.

“What red flags?” I tried to say calmly.

“Oh just that you mentioned Jamie likes to line his toys up, and the way he sits on his knees and the fact he gets all excited and starts to shake and laugh.” She replied.

My head was spinning trying to process all this and for once in my life – I was speechless.

“We have a workshop starting on Friday which I think you will benefit from. It’s two hours and it’s parents only. It provides you with some skills and help to try and get Jamie’s speech going. Do you want me to put you down for it?”

What else was I going to say than, “Er, yes sure”?

I arrived home to find Mum and Lily playing in the kitchen. Jamie ran in and gave his Granny a hug as usual.

“How did you get on?” Mum asked.

I burst into tears.

Half an hour later and I had finished my bubble and explained everything to Mum. She sat and intently listened to everything.

“Look, Jamie is a stubborn wee thing and like everything else, he will chat in his own good time. These speech and language sessions are totally voluntary. Why don’t you go to the workshop? Jamie’s at nursery and I’ll look after Lily. You have nothing to lose and if it’s nonsense, just come home?” said the oracle of reason.

“Uuugh, okay.” I replied.

Friday morning arrived. I walked into the workshop ten minutes late after spending a lifetime trying to get a car park space. The only seat left was in the middle at the front, and the speaker was in the middle of her intro, telling everyone the importance of being punctual. Ooops.

Then my worst nightmare.

“Right everyone, I would like you all to take turns standing up and introduce yourself to the class, say your child’s name, their age and why you are here.”

Fox ache, I’m outta here. But just as I was contemplating my escape, I realised it was my turn. Shit!

“Er, hello. My name is Emma. My son’s name is Jamie. He is three-years-old and he has words but no sentences yet.” I said chatting to the floor.

And then I heard it all.

“Hello, my name is… my daughters only word is shit.”

“Hello, my name is… my son won’t speak at all.”

“Hello, my name is… my daughter will only say NO!”

By the time everyone in the room had spoken, I realised that I was one of the lucky ones and that Jamie wasn’t so bad. Yes, he was maybe a bit delayed but nothing like what some of the other poor parents were going through.

By the time the two hours were up I felt so relieved and armed and ready to help Jamie with some talking and speech techniques that we can work on at home. The therapists talked a lot about how screen time affects them, the problems from dummies, and even how playing can factor into how their speech develops. It was pretty fascinating actually.

Two hours later, I arrived back home.

“Well, how did it go?” Mum asked anxiously.

“It was brilliant.” I replied and explained everything to her.

It’s early days and Jamie still has a way to go with his speech but I can honestly say I feel more relieved and confident that he’ll make good progress.

As a parent you never want to hear that something might be wrong or affect the way your child learns. It’s scary. It’s the fear of the unknown. And the best thing to come out of it is if there is something that needs to be addressed, then the sooner the better.

I think there’s two things to learn from this. The first? Knowledge is key. Once you know what’s involved, then it stops being scary.

And the other?

Listen to your Mum. They almost always know best.

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