Many of us think our own babies are the smartest babies in the world. But when anything developmentally falls behind with them, we worry that something's gone wrong.
What exactly "wrong" is we can speculate until we overcompensate and convince ourselves nothing's wrong at all, or until we're tossing and turning at night wondering what we did wrong to skew their growth progress.
Beatrice started walking at around 11 months, but she didn't crawl until 17 months. Bryce crawled between 7-8 months and walked at around 11 months. When my mother reminded me that my sister and I walked before we crawled, I didn't feel so out of sorts about Bea not crawling sooner.
Now that Bea has started preschool, which she loves, there's a real deficit that's been called to our attention, one that we already knew was there but now it stands out more amongst her toddler peers and her teachers have pointed it out as well.
She has a speech delay. What specifically that means, a maturation delay or expressive language disorder or whatever, we just don't know yet. Six months ago our pediatrician told us she was fine and already had the right pronunciation skills for her age, but she hasn't progressed much since.
Now, she has normal intelligence and comprehension (if not above normal -- she is the smartest toddler in the world you know), normal hearing, good emotional relationships and normal articulation skills. In fact, even the speech therapist she saw this week concurred on all those points. And when we talk about Bea in front of her about not talking enough, her level of communication kicks up a notch.
However, Bea just doesn't string as many words together into three-word+ sentences as other children do at three years old. Bea still has to have a comprehensive evaluation with the speech therapist next month and will more than likely be going to her for the next few months.
What throws people who meet her for the first time is that she's tall for her age; she's mistaken for upwards of four years old. But when she talks, it's more baby-like than clear and simple phrases others her age speak. We've been told more than once that she most likely regressed when Bryce was born and this speech delay has slowed potty training too. Ack.
When Bea was only a few months old our pediatrician requested we get an ultrasound of her head because it was in the very high percentile of size for her young age. The results showed that her brain ventricles were enlarged but there was no other action taken by the doctors. The traumatic birth her and Mama went through included the vacuum on Bea's head that popped off two times before we got her out the third time (a Caesarean was next), so who knows if that had something to do with it early on, but at this point we may never know if any permanent damage was done.
We've always talked with Beatrice and read her stories and told her stories. She even learned sign language early on and still signs please when we ask her to say please. Yes, she watches TV and plays games, watches videos and reads stories on our, I mean her iPod and iPad, but we're also very active and engaging outside as well, always verbal, always loving.
For me and a past that occasionally haunts, there's always the fear of what we do wrong with our children, when all we ever want is for them is to be all right.