Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Growing Pains

Jason called me last night with 'good news'.  
He had been in a meeting with his boss and co-workers and they had discussed an upcoming vacation his boss is hosting.
We are going to Steamboat Springs, Colorado and we'll spend a few days playing in the snow.
What will probably happen is that Jason and his co-workers will spend a few days playing in the snow and Emily and I will stay warm and cozy inside.  

Jason's boss told Jason that he was planning on hiring a babysitter for Emily for an evening so that we could all go out to eat.  (Emily will be the only little one there.)
Jason was thrilled and couldn't wait to tell me.  
(That was the good news.)

He then told me that we were staying across the street from a spa and he would watch Emily one day while I went to the spa.

I was quiet for a minute and then said, "Do you not know me at all?"

I probably wouldn't go to a spa even if someone paid me (unless it was just for a pedicure...and Jason may talk me into that) ... but I would never leave Emily with someone she didn't know no matter how much someone paid me.

Jason explained that the babysitter was older and more mature, and that his boss trusted her completely, and that I would have nothing to worry about.  

"It's not at all about the babysitter," I said, "but everything about Emily, and I won't leave her alone."

And here is where this mommy's heart is tender to the point of having it be too much.

Other than me, there are two people who would say confidently that they can understand Emily when she talks: my sister Becca and Jason.  And if you were to ask them they would tell you that they understand less than I understand, and there are times when even I don't have a clue what she's saying.  I will ask her to say it again over and over again, and she will, patiently, until I figure it out.  

When she's with me and she's out of her element, or if we are with people she doesn't know, she goes mostly silent, or she'll stop using her words...meaning that instead of trying to articulate, she'll keep her mouth closed and hum what she's saying.  There are times I understand the hum more than I understand her words.  

She's about as comfortable at my parent's house as she is at our house, but it takes a lot to get her to talk.
She's comfortable in her church class (sometimes), but she is mostly quiet.
She's been in school for almost 5 months, is still a little hesitant about it, and never talks.  Her teacher was excited that Emily smiled at her the other day.

I went to school with Emily for a day to see if I could help her break out of her shell a little bit.  I don't know that I accomplished that, but now that I know what she does every day, I can engage with her more about school.  I can ask about her classmates by name, and I can ask about specific activities. 

(On the chance that you really want to tell me to teach her sign language...which I'm doing...keep this in mind: Emily's three year old version of sign language is almost guaranteed to be different that what an adult's version of sign language would be, and even if it were the same, you would have to have someone on the other end who actually knows sign language.)

I recently played a video of Emily counting from 1-20 for Em's feeding therapist, who is also a speech therapist.  (We can't see her in that capacity because our insurance won't cover it.) I asked her opinion about Emily's speech: is it typical as far as development goes in regards to a speech delay.

In her professional opinion she doesn't think that Em's speech will improve much more than where she's at right now, without surgery to repair her cleft palate.  

(We've known all along that she has a cleft palate, but a lot of kids learn to talk in spite of it, and we've been waiting for Em's speech to develop enough to know what we were dealing with.)

I scheduled an appointment with the cranio-facial team at our children's hospital and we'll go in a couple of weeks.  

With ALL of that said...

The amount of anxiety I feel when I leave Emily would surprise you.  
There are days where I still cry as I drive away from Em's school.
If she shows the slightest hesitation or concern about being somewhere, my mommy heart wants to scoop her up and never let her go.
The balance between protecting her and letting her spread her wings is a hard thing for me to find.
Knowing that if Jason and I aren't with her, Emily is mostly helpless...I don't know that there's been anything harder for me to deal with so far in her little life.

I recently heard a news report about a three year old who was in his mom's car when it was stolen.  When the thief realized that there was a child in the back of the car he abandoned the car and the child.  The mom had left her cell phone in the car and when the police called it the three year old was able to answer it, which led to the police being able to find him.

The same night I heard that story I had a nightmare about the same thing happening to Emily, only she wasn't able to answer the phone.  I woke up with my heart racing.  

(It's no wonder my hair is going gray.)

Em's inability to communicate won't be forever, and for that I'm grateful.

But until then...

If I turn down an offer of babysitting please don't take it personally.  Please understand that I'm doing what I can to make certain that Emily has the most emotionally safe environment that she can. 

There are so many aspects of Em's life that I have no control over - that I can do nothing about - but when she's with me my sweet girl talks her little heart out, and I can't take that away from her.  


VC_ink said...

Emily's Mommy, you're strong. xo Keep at it.

Beth Zimmerman said...

Did Jason ultimately understand that, Love? I'm so sorry it's so hard! But honestly ... in a lot of ways ... most mamas can probably relate!

After 10 years of infertility I didn't want to miss a moment with Josiah! I loved that boy fiercely! Still do! The idea of leaving him with a babysitter was unthinkable! And I don't remember how old he was before Bert didn't have to ask me to interpret! Add to that the fact that Josiah was painfully shy and ... I could have said many of the same things for a lot of the same reasons!

I KNOW that it doesn't really compare! Emily's situation is unique and her challenges are bigger! I just wanted you to feel less alone and more understood!

Love you!

Rachel said...

Noelle, I love your blog, and I get excited every time I see a new post. Your love for Emily and the protectiveness you feel over her is so beautifully apparent throughout the blog, but it's exquisitely written here.

My own children have very different special needs from your daughter, but in almost 17 years of parenting, I've paid for a sitter twice, though my various parents and step-parents have babysat. It's legitimate to not want to leave Emily, even if she didn't have trouble communicating. Adding that piece makes it even more understandable. Are there alternatives that could work as a compromise? Maybe you can get a fancy dinner as take out, and enjoy it in your room? Or go somewhere with Em? Or, if Em doesn't usually wake up, could you leave her with the babysitter once she's asleep? With the proviso that the babysitter call if she wakes up, of course. Never mind, just writing that last one made me anxious about how she would feel if she woke up and you weren't there.

I loved the video - Emily is adorable and sweet. She has already come so far in her language use! I'm really impressed.

Lalis said...

Aw, Noelle <3 *hug*

You're an awesome mom. Know that. Where I'm going to say next comes from the one place I can relate. I can't relate to you on being a mom, let alone being a mom to Em, but I can relate to you on having anxiety and how awful it feels... So forgive me if I sound "atrevida."

Something about how you described your emotions took me back to when I really struggled with my anxiety. I think your last sentence summed it up best. There were some things I really wanted to control in my life, and there were little pieces of it that I could control, but for the most part I couldn't. My anxiety turned into depression, and that was an awful place to be in.

I was weakened and I had all these obstacles that kept me from LIVING. I wasn't doing anything wrong... But somehow I was hurting from the way I was doing them. I had to work my way up with medication to get out of being depressed but my big "Aha!" moment didn't happen until years later when I was able to sort out the root of my anxiety through therapy and then work from there. (If you ever want details, feel free to ask, but I will sound incredibly silly to you compared to what you're going through with your baby girl).

I'm not saying you should see a doctor and get on medication, but maybe see a therapist? There is nothing wrong with you wanting to be there for Emily and wanting to protect her from feeling invisible... But you should be able to find strength when you leave her at school, and maybe one day, be able to get more than a pedicure at the spa while Jason takes care of her. (Yeah, I wouldn't leave her with a stranger either). If you've already tried it, it wasn't until my third therapist that I hit the jackpot, and all other friends with success stories will tell you that it's like a dating relationship... You gotta find someone that works for you.

Anyhoo, again, I repeat, you're not doing anything wrong as a mom. You're doing everything right. I just don't want you to hurt because of what you're doing or not doing. Especially, I don't want you to hurt because of what you can't control but wish you could.

Feel free not to publish this comment, and please don't hate me if I came off as "knowing better." Honest, your emotions took me back to those days and I wanted to share what helped me.

Judy Whatilivefor said...

When my son was 4, I realized that no one except my husband and I could understand his speech. I started to panic, especially when it came time for him to start pre-K. I worried all summer long about him going to would anyone understand him? What if he missed out because he couldn't express himself? I fretted constantly. He loved school and his teacher was wonderful, and we're still working on his speech. Anyhow, all this to say I understand. You are Emily's advocate.

Whatever happens with this vacation, I hope you're able to have a wonderful time!

R said...

Have you investigated AAC? It would help her communicate her thoughts and would be understandable to any listeners. Look up a blog called Uncommon Sense to get lots of info on AAC from a parent's perspective.

Venassa said...

She is the cutest! I can make out a lot of the numbers that she's saying but I can see how it would be hard communicate with her. I know where your protectiveness comes from though because even though Chloe is a great speaker, she's a different kid with other people. I'm okay leaving her with my Mom or her father/stepfather and regular sitter but if it comes down to me leaving her with anyone else, I almost always find it's not important enough to go through with. She get shy around people she doesn't know and is so quiet that I wonder if they'd take good enough care of her. Being a mom seems hard stuff.