Tuesday, April 26, 2011

When you say nothing at all...

This post started out to be a very, very different blog post.  Good thing I procrastinated because now it has a much happier ending.  Well, if not happier, at least humbler.  If that's even a word.

The Incredible Hulk has been quite an amazing little mover.  Motorically speaking, he's nailing all of his milestones.  This kid is more coordinated than I ever will be.  Not that that's really saying anything.  At 9 months he's easily navigating his way around our house.  Crawls, pulls up, stands momentarily (before he realizes he has no idea what he is doing and comes crashing down), picks things up with the pincer grasp of a surgeon - honestly, I'm so impressed by that.

But in the talking department, he hasn't really made any movement at all.  Sure, he babbles, he'll say "ba ba ba ba" indiscriminately.  He makes lots of adorable little noises (some of which kind of sound like chatter) but definitely not what is described in the books.  And, being the overachiever I am - this worries me. And though, I have absolutely no worries about his hearing or socialization, I still found it concerning that many of his same-aged baby friends are waving to each other on the playground, saying "bye bye," and asking for "ma ma" or "da da" (knowing full well who "ma ma" or "da da" is.)

I know, I know.  You're not supposed to compare babies.  But, I can't help it, okay?

I thought the absence of "speech" had to do with the fact that TIH has a significant case of ankyloglossia. Ankyloglossia is a fancy way of saying his frenulum is located at the distal end of his tongue which is an even fancier way of saying he is "tongue tied."  In fact, the whole reason we are having a frenulectomy performed next month is so that he won't have speech problems later in life.  So, at TIH's 9 month appointment when the subject of baby babbling came up, I came armed with the defense that he was probably having some difficulty because of this defect.  Apparently not.  According to our pediatrician, the ankyloglossia is "not that limiting," but assured me I shouldn't be too worried if I didn't have concerns regarding his hearing or socialization.

The rest of the "Well Baby" visit was downhill from there.

Me: So, even though he's not saying the typical "ma ma" "da da" kind of stuff, that's completely normal right?
Him: Ummm...well, it can be.
Me: (horrified expression)
Him: (begins to do physical exam on baby in which he waves to him and baby doesn't wave back)
Me: (more horrified expression)
Him: (notices eczema) Continue to use the cream twice a day everywhere, but only do it once a day on these places on his face.  What kind of lotion do you use on his face?
Me:  (has only been using prescription cream once a day) Okay, I can do that.  I don't use lotion on his face.
Him: Start using lotion on his face.
Me: (mortified expression)
Him: Are you nursing still?
Me:  (relieved) YES!  And he's doing GREAT!
Him: Pay attention to see if the eczema breakouts have any correlation to what you're consuming in your diet.  You'd be surprised what can come through the breast milk.
Me: (jumps off a cliff)
Him: (shouts as I plummet down) Oh!  And you should probably be reading to him more, too!

So, for the next few days, I walked around feeling very defeated and basically like the worst mother in the world.  My pediatrician who always is able to put my mind at rest about stuff instead handed me a long list of things I feel like I've been doing wrong.  (And honestly, that isn't what he did at all, but leave me alone in my little pity party, right now.)  And now, the pressure I had already put on myself and TIH had quadrupled in strength since the doctor's appointment.

That pressure is going to eventually kill me if I don't just CALMDOWN.
The "Mompetition" out there is pretty bad and there's no escaping that.  But, sometimes, I think the worst of it is that which we do to ourselves.

I was complaining about it to my husband during bath time, telling him how lucky we are that TIH is such a great baby and of all the things that I can go wrong when it comes to being pregnant, having babies, and raising them (it is a miracle that any of us are even here, honestly) - we really got lucky that he just happens to be a quiet little mover with a (totally treatable) birth defect.  It was at this moment that my husband stopped talking and we both listened a little closer to the babbles coming out of TIH.  Babbles that sounded distinctly like "ma ma ma ma..."

Sure, he wasn't talking to me, but he was saying something.

Then, I was changing him the other day (TIH hates diaper changes) and as he cried, I could hear some of his little babbles sound like "uh ma, uh ma, uh ma" and he reached up so I would pick him up. 

Yesterday, TIH was home with my husband (because he's sick again, not that that should come as a surprise to anyone) and when the garage door opened my husband said "Hey, buddy, mommy's home!"  My husband swears that he immediately started whining in his "I don't feel good" kind of way, but that it sounded like he was saying "ah ma, ah ma, ah maaaa."

I don't know if he's saying mama yet or not.  I'm not writing it down in any baby book or bragging to any of my friends.  One of the best pieces of advice I ever got from a friend and fellow mommy was to relax about all of the "developmental deadlines."  "He will walk.  He will talk.  He'll do it all.  Just let him do it in his own time."

She's right.  I need to just. flippin'. relax.

I can compare him to other babies all I want, but then I think of friends and fellow parents I have who have watched their babies undergo serious and invasive heart or lung or brain surgery.  Of the mommies who aren't sure their babies will ever talk or walk.  My heart twists in my chest when I hear of another baby taken too early because of some strange medical problem that doesn't even go on the same scale as something as silly as ankyloglossia.  I bet those people don't care if another kid is already walking or talking or writing his dissertation on War and Peace

I have a friend who has an adorable little guy with some very rare and special needs and not too long ago she recommended this book to her fellow "special needs mommies."  I think the title pretty much says it all:

Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid

So, I'm shutting up now.
He's fine.
And he's calling for "ah ma ah ma ah ma..."


  1. Okay, so I have a special needs child. She has had too many surgeries and is way behind on gross and fine motor skills. When she was 2, she spoke at a 9 month level. She has caught up now, but I really worried about it back then even as I worried about keeping her alive. Perhaps I'm different than other special needs moms, but I think you have every right to freak out. We all want the most for our kids and hearing your child might not be meeting those milestones is hard no matter how advanced he is in everything else. The pressure on moms is crazy. I will tell you one thing though, if the ped didn't suggest an eval with a speech therapist, he wasn't that concerned. Good luck and try not to be too hard on yourself. Motherhood is hard enough without adding extra pressure. Sending you hugs.

  2. One more thing, if you'd like to read a great blog written by a speech therapist that gives you exercises to use with your baby to help with speech, here is the link: http://www.talkingkids.org/. She even has a list of books that are great to read to your baby that help develop speech.

  3. Hey Lady...I was tongue tied too but didn't have the surgery until middle or early high school. Now I know why I couldn't play the flute in the 5th grade :).

    As for talking...Carson was a later talker. We still worry a bit. If it makes you feel better, when TIH turns 1 he's only supposed to say 1 or 2 words and at 15 months the magic number is 6 words. A LOT can happen btw 9 months and a year...and it sounds like TIH is coming around. But if it makes you feel better I completely worried about Carson not saying "mama" and "dada" to us when the books said he should. The doctor wasn't too worried...she said we'd worry when he was a touch older but then he said it. He goes to see a geneticist in August bc of his eyes. I think after that I will fully relax that he is completely okay with no delays. BUT I honestly think TIH sounds very normal. And the words will come.

  4. @Mom on a Line - Wow. Thank you so much for your words. I am desperately working on not being so hard on myself, not doubting myself, and just sitting back and enjoying this one precious life (and whatever comes with it). You are a very strong mama and you created a very strong little girl. She's so lucky to have you in her corner, helping her fight all the way.

    ALSO, I am SO excited to check out the blog. I have been thinking it would help to know what books are good for speech development. Who knows, I might already have some of them in the house, but I don't even know it because we're reading "Pink Wiggly Pig" for the 800th time.

    Thanks again :)

  5. @Dawn - WOW! I had no idea being tongue tied was so common! I bet that made it hard to develop your embrasure. Forget it!

    I will be totally fine if TIH has 1-2 words at 1 year. Maybe one of those words will be "mommy." Maybe not. I love my pediatrician, but he should know that all of you mommies out there reading this blog were more of a comfort to me than him. Thanks for that :)

  6. I left a comment. Then I came back to comment after reading mompetition because it's hilarious, but my comment is now missing. I have to shorten it now. TIH speaks Korean. That's right. "Um ma" means mom. That's impressive, is what I said. =)

  7. Hey, I realize this is an older post, but I'm a new reader and wanted to comment because it's something pretty close to my experience as well. I have an almost 5 year old who didn't say much more than "yayayayayaya" until she was about 20 months old. She was a late talker and now I can't get her to be quiet. Sometimes they just need a little more time. I've had her evaluated and she's hitting all of the important markers, so to echo everyone else's advice, try to give yourself a break.

  8. @The Ninja - (I like replying to Ninjas!) Since this post, TIH has begun to say "BABABABABABA" all the time and says "Ma ma"...sometimes in a discriminate way, but still isn't where I thought he would be. I have been trying to give myself a break and realize that kids are going to grow on their own time. Comments from people like you really help me to remember that and know that eventually it WILL happen. So glad to hear your daughter is talking your ear off and to hear the advice of someone who has totally been there. Thanks so much for stopping by :)


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