Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Pardon my rambling..

So... I was talking to my neighbor yesterday. Before I go into this, probably I should mention that she's a decent person and I do like her. Sometimes she just doesn't fully engage her brain before her mouth opens. Or maybe she's just prone to voicing things that other people only think, and wouldn't actually say out loud. Either way, she's not a bad person. Hell, I have those flaws sometimes too. Ok, a lot of times.

Anyhow, Neighbor was holding P'Bean and mentioned that she's been thinking a lot about whether they should have another baby. P'Bean is (naturally) a perfect babe and inspires these thoughts in people. people other than me I mean. her very perfection fills me with terror - what if I've achieved the pinnacle of reproduction and anything more would be pushing my luck?

As it turns out, my neighbor is also worried that asking for a third perfect child would be too much, seeing as how she's already got two perfect kids. I kinda misunderstood that one. I thought she was worried because she's got two really well-behaved children and hell, that doesn't really happen three times, now does it?

No, as it turns out my neighbor is worried about genetic perfection. Because, you know, she's just turned 30 and her risk for Down syndrome increases after 35. I swear, this woman keeps forgetting that I'm older than she is. Apparently she also forgets that her longest period of 'trying' for a baby was 3 months. Because she's worried about a theoretical risk five years in the future.

I know that this is one of those things that women worry about. (although maybe not as vocally or as horrified as Neighbor.) With all the talk about 'advanced maternal age' and 'risks' and all. Like there's some switch that gets flipped at midnight on the eve of a woman's 35th birthday whereupon her ovaries turn into that proverbial pumpkin and the uterine fairy godmother runs off with Prince Charming leaving this poor advanced-aged woman's reproductive organs adrift and directionless, I guess... but this just doesn't seem like a Big Fear to me.

It's a 'potential' and not an 'actual'.

I'm working extra-hard this year to only worry about the things that are actualities, and not stress over potentials. Most of us have enough actual problems that we don't need to worry about the maybes.

I know an awful lot of people that have been struggling to wrap their minds around their children's individual challenges lately. Things that seem small to an outsider (or at least not Big, if not exactly small either).

It's something that I've been struggling with lately. G has a few quirks that can be difficult. Maybe they're not as obvious to the general public as Down syndrome, but they are as obvious to me as if they were branded on his forehead. I just want his life to be easy. I want him to fit in and to be one of the kids.

Most recently, I've been struggling to wrap my mind around G's speech problem. Seems like a small fear, doesn't it? I mean, he's bright and healthy, his physical development has been perfect.. but he just can't seem to make his mouth work the way his brain does. We've made great strides in his communication and he can generally get his point across to the people who matter.. but I learned a long time ago that 'speech' and 'communication' do not mean the same thing. Or, as his speech therapist summed it up: he compensates well.

True that, he does. If he can't be understood he will go into a torrent of descriptive phrases and charade, expertly combining words and pantomime until his audience can figure out what he's trying to say.

Problem is, this only works if the audience is as determined as he is. Other kids, they aren't generally so persistent. If they can't understand him, they go one of two ways: either they give up on talking and just play without too many words, or they give up on him.

That is not what I want for my son.

What may seem like a small fear to others has become a big deal in my everyday life. It hits like a physical blow when I hear people comment on G. Most commonly I hear things like "what's wrong with him?" .. although there was that one memorable little boy at the park who wanted to know if he was speaking Chinese. Kinda makes me want to scream.. see, G's speech problem is almost exclusively with articulation. His vocabulary is above-average, his receptive language is just fine.. in English that means he understands every damn thing people say about him.

During one of his evaluations, the psychologist mentioned that before G starts kindergarten, she wants me to bring him in for an IQ test so that I will have actual numbers to bring to school because the schools have been known to make assumptions about intelligence based on ability to speak. That hurt, too. I expect that from random kids at the park. I don't like it, but they're not exactly trained professionals so hey, it's not like they know better.. but his school? Sigh...

They have warned me that his school will expect less of him.. that he will have problems reading because of his speech.. that this will be a long uphill battle that will take probably years of intensive therapy to conquer... and will likely involve therapy for his self-esteem as well, as this will all take a toll on him..

What the hell? It's a flippin' speech problem!

When all this started I figured he'd get a little speech therapy once or twice a week and in a few months things would be just ducky. He got speech once a week for the first six months. Twice a week for the next year and a half. They've just increased him to four times a week (two group sessions, two individual) with plans to increase that to five times a week (two group, three individual).

My saving grace is that they expect he will overcome this obstacle. Some day he will talk and be understood. I don't expect he will ever completely blend in to the crowd (because his personality doesn't encourage that sort of thing... but I love that he will have that option if he wants it. I realize that is a gift.

.. and while I'm doing all this realizing, I realize that if anyone had told me years ago that I'd consider a speech problem a Big Deal, a Life-Altering struggle, I'd have rolled my eyes and called 'em an ass-hat, as I am wont to do.

So really, I guess every fear is a valid fear... but my couple-weeks-late resolution still stands: valid or not, I will not worry about things that have not happened.

That said... I know that as Big as G's speech problem seems, it would not have stopped me from wanting him. Perhaps we have achieved reproductive perfection in PB. Perhaps any future child would have a newer, scarier Big problem.. perhaps he-or-she would have a known Big problem. Or a known small problem. Or not. I'm not going to let that make my decision for me.. when B comes home (in just a few short weeks!) we're planning on starting the pre-trying trying*.

*I'll explain that phrase in my next posting. this one has been exhausting to type out, and I'm not really in a mindset where I can switch gears to another new topic immediately.. this got a little more involved than I'd intended for announcing that we'd decided to bite the bullet and consider attempting another baby in this lifetime. this decade even. no matter how scary it seems.