Discovering My Child’s Developmental Delay
I first found out when she began to miss her milestones. She was 7 months and not crawling. Almost a year and still not walking. I noticed she wasn’t babbling like other babies. She was especially sensitive to texture and would barely eat solids. I had to breastfeedexclusively for over a year because she would not eat enough. I was concerned but not overly worried. According to baby books, every child develops at a different pace and some babies walk as late as 18 months.
We decided it wouldn’t hurt to begin Early Intervention Services through the Regional Center. Infant teachers (for babies 0-3) came to our home and initiated sensory play with beads, balls and soft brushes. They would exercise her legs as she had low muscle tone termed hypotonia. Aside from her delayed gross and fine motor skills, she was healthy and happy. Doctors had no concrete explanation. We were to continue Early Intervention services and pray that ‘she will grow out it.’
Even while all this was going on, I felt okay. I think deep down inside, I was hopeful that she will eventually be okay. I believed this strongly. And even if she never gets better, I’ll deal with it then. I had too much on my plate to just sit back and reflect on what was going on at the time.
Back to School (and Living My Life Again)
Before my daughter’s developmental delays became evident, I had applied to a graduate program at a nearby university. During this time I had adjusted to motherhood and my ambitious side remained unsatisfied, placing a desire to use my knowledge for something outside of the domestic realm. Law school was unfit for a new mother as it was too expensive, too time consuming and too demanding; perhaps there was a reason why it didn’t work out in the first place.
Coincidentally, I received an acceptance letter two days after my daughter’s first birthday party. I felt the universe was aligning perfectly and I was at exactly where I was meant to be. Life began to move forward.
I found out about my second pregnancy during the second year of graduate school. It was unexpected but welcoming news as I knew I wanted a second child. Second pregnancy progressed much smoother than the first without any complications or concerns.
I talked to my second child all the time while walking to and from class. I told her I’m sorry mommy is always at school. I jokingly told my husband that our baby will be born singing her ABC’s as all I’m doing during this pregnancy is reading, writing and singing to her older sister who responded best through music.
Graduate studies proved to be a joyous endeavor. It was difficult sitting through long hours of graduate seminars but I enjoyed it for the most part. I did well and was even offered a paid position to teach research and writing to undergraduates.
I had a family and promising career. All this by age 27. Life began to look brighter.
Second Labor & Delivery
I went into labor on the day of my due date. (Yes I was a part of that small percentage of women who went to labor on her actual due date.) When labor contractions began in the morning, I was excited to be going into natural labor unlike the first time. Contractions began in the form of a dull ache in the lower part of my belly. It came and went in waves. It wasn’t uncomfortable at the time and I even had a weird craving for french fries and iced coffee before my routine check up. And yes, I ate right before checking in. (Don’t judge.)
My gynecologist told me that I was in early labor and would most likely progress that afternoon. He asked if I’d like to check into the hospital to which I immediately replied yes. I was tired of feeling (and looking) like a beached whale, again, and couldn’t wait to meet my baby.
I checked into the hospital at around 10 am and by mid-afternoon I was in active labor. The pain was manageable thanks to a timely epidural and I was dilating fast, contrary to the first time. I was eating ice chips, smiling and talking to the nurses and the next thing I knew, it was time to push.
I must’ve pushed once or twice and she was out. I remember thinking Wait, that’s it? It was such a different experience than the first time. Joyous, fluid and gratifying. The way Idreamed of. The first time I was engulfed by raw emotions; this time I was embraced by a quiet calm and gratitude.
I held my second daughter, who was smaller and more wrinkly than her older sister, smiled and welcomed her into the world.
Second Time Around
Everything felt so much easier the second time around. By now I was a professional diaper changer, breast-feeder and baby caretaker. I can do these things with my eyes closed. The biggest challenge was deciding whether to breastfeed exclusively or mix in formula. I knew I had to return to work and did not want to go through the stress of weaning again.
I returned home on the same day, popped a prescribed vicodin to control the post-delivery pain in my womb, and began cleaning my bedroom like a madwoman. Looking back, this was not normal behavior as I was overwhelmed with a surge of energy and pleasure. Why wasn’t I tired? Instead, I moved around like the energizer bunny when I should’ve been resting. My so-called recovery was so fast. Too fast. I should’ve known better than to begin down the second time mommy road at full speed.
(To this day, no one has an explanation for this. I think it has to do something with pregnancy hormones, but then again, I’m not a doctor.)
My family looked upon me approvingly and no one questioned my erratic behavior. They thought I had everything under control. I thought I had everything under control. Friends commented on how fast my recovery was. From the moment I returned from the delivery room, I began taking care of the new baby all by myself, waking up every two to three hours, feeding, changing, bathing and rocking her to sleep. I felt no lethargy or weepiness.
Soon, my body began working mechanically like a clock.