Thursday, May 30, 2013

Easy for You to Say

I have been waiting for Elena to talk for so long…remember her alien voice? I thought for sure back then she’d be “talking” so soon…now here we are & she’s not talking how I expected she would be at this age…

This is a list of her vocabulary that we’ve been able to interpret:

Momma – Mami – Ma

Da-dee or Dada = Grandma – yes, she calls my Mom “Daddy”!

Gaw-cor = Doctor

Geesh = Cookie plus uses a very similar sound for cheese, cheek…& light, go figure

Boowa = Bubble & very similar sound for balloon

Boo = boots – both the Dora character & the foot wear

Eesh = teeth

Do-or = Dora

Do-or while shaking her head = she wants to watch Toopy & Binoo

Bwu = Blue

Bwu while shaking her head = any other colour other than blue

Buppy = up, which is strange since we never say “uppy”!

Nayna = Raina, my aunt

Na-nee = catch all sound that can mean many different thinks

Bwa – another catch all sound that can mean different things

Meh = can mean “what’s that” but is also a catch all sound with a myriad of meanings

For animals, she’ll often make the animal sound rather than attempt the name…and the rest of her communication is made up of grunts, gestures & jibberish. I’m not sure if she’s stringing words together, likely she is but I only understand a word or two. She will say a word while shaking her head meaning “not that” & she'll get frustrated if you’ve missed the head shake & give her the thing she didn’t want. She is trying to sing which is absolutely precious but loves most when we sing songs with actions like Wheels on the Bus, Zoom Zoom, Itsy Bitsy Spider, etc to which she participates animatedly. I’ve even been spared the dreaded toddler habit (so far) of “NO!” If you recall, she use to say, “Nien!” then, “Niet” but for the most part she’ll just shake her head. What breaks my heart is when she’ll hold my face in her hands, looking at me pleadingly as she repeats the same sound that obviously means something to her but I just don’t understand. Often we get by with me asking her to show me what she means but sometimes what she’s saying isn’t showable & she gets so frustrated…but worse than that, sometimes she gets this look of abject guts me!

And that’s the thing! She is SO expressive, even with her lack of language. I can only imagine what it’ll be like when she adds words to all that expression! Her preschool teacher said it perfectly, her emotions are written all over her face!

I know in my heart that Elena will come around to talking but there was that part of me that wondered, “what if?” What if there is some issue? What if I’m hindering her in any way?

We have a wonderful program in my province, Early Words…at Elena’s age, I was able to self refer & have Elena assessed by a Speech Pathologist, all covered under our healthcare.

We were sent a package of assessment forms to fill out prior to our meeting with the Speech Pathologist. The form had a number of lists of words & we needed to mark if Elena understood them or understood & spoke them…seeing it all out on paper like that was interesting…she understood pretty much every word on each list…& the ones she didn’t had more to do with not being exposed to that item than not knowing it, words like babysitter’s name, playpen, coffee…or words we just don’t use, like bad (I’ve avoided using that term feeling it is too negative) & owie/boo boo, we just say hurt, cut, bump, etc…

The first thing the SP mentioned was how surprised she was to see how expressive Elena was. Based on the paperwork, she expected a child that would be a lot more reserved & quiet…& the longer we were there, the more Elena became comfortable & opened up. The SP was impressed with how well Elena had adapted to express her wants, needs & opinions while lacking the language skills to do so.

The SP got right down on the floor to play & interact with Elena & observed that she didn’t try to mimic in any way which generally kids do a great deal. She also found it interesting that instead of pointing at things & labeling them, she brings them to me & has me identify them…basically Elena would make little to no effort to venture out of the small cluster of sounds & words she knows to try new & different ones…but she wants to know, Elena definitely has a thirst for knowledge.

Basically the SP diagnosed that it was entirely fault, I was hindering her! Oh, it’s not as bad as that sounds, lol! You see, I had decided that I would never talk baby talk to Elena…I would always use proper words & language, plus, until very recently, Elena was rarely with children her own age. She was left with nothing to emulate & mimic. My language was too difficult & she just didn’t have the ability to form the sounds needed to speak like me…

The SP explained that I (& my Mom) needed to speak more simply to Elena. She’s not suggesting using baby talk in any way, instead just simplifying how we speak. For example, when Elena would bring me something, like a ball, asking what’s this (Elena knows what a ball is, this is just an example) I would respond with a full sentence, “That’s a ball” & that is too many sounds for Elena to try to mimic so she just doesn’t. Instead I just need to say, “Ball” pause & say it again, “Ball” & pause again then say it a third time…there’s no need to ask her, “Can you say Ball?” or tell her, “Say Ball”…the pause is when she can try & she will in her own time.

Another example is when we play, I would have a running dialogue going…"Okay, let’s go play bubbles! This is so much fun! Look at them all! Pop them! There you go! Now you blow! Wow, great blowing…” Elena of course would understand all of this & participate excitedly…but it left her no room to try to learn the words! The SP suggested that I dial it way back…say, “Bubbles! Pop! Blow!” leaving lots of pauses & chances for Elena to mimic me.

In the week since our appointment, I have become hyper aware of how I speak to Elena & really realize that I talk to her like I would anyone else…& I’m now making a concerted effort to speak more simply. Already I’ve noticed a difference!! She is trying to mimic me more & her sound repertoire seems to be expanding quickly!

Having her in preschool in September will make a world of difference too, I am sure. She has been going to the school Fridays with my Mom for a drop in group. I had last Friday off so got to take her & see her interact with her friend, who talks quite a bit. It was amazing seeing Elena attempting the words this little girl was saying!
I really just can't wait to hear what Elena has got to say! I swear, I will never complain that she is talking too much! If I do, you have my permission to slap me!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Baby Wearing

So I'd always wished I'd explored baby wearing more when Elena was born. I think it would have been good for us.

It looks like she's way ahead of me, lol!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Jealousy Sucks

Out of the 8 moms at Elena’s gymnastics class, 5 of them are pregnant…I thought I was past being jealous of pregnant women but no, it seems it’s been replaced by jealousy of women who get to have 2…or 3…or 5…it’s bad enough that I don’t relate to these women at all, being that they’re all at least 10 years younger than me…& married…now I have to smile politely while they discuss their pregnancies…of the other 2 moms that aren’t pregnant, 1 has started trying again (I suspect, based on her comments, that she might be pregnant but just not saying anything yet) & the other has 4 kids & is not having more children…then there’s me.

While they discuss & moan & giggle, I hug Elena close, so grateful to have her…& wallow in jealousy.

I don’t like feeling this way…it brings up other feelings I don’t like to feel…like guilt…I feel guilty for being jealous of not having more children, guilty that this implies that Elena isn’t enough…because Elena IS enough, her little life fills mine to overflowing with joy & contentedness.

I also feel sad…I don’t want to feel sad because it conflicts with that joy & contentedness. I have never in my whole life been happier than I am these days…so you understand why an undercurrent of sadness would annoy me. I’m sad Elena won’t have siblings…oh sure, she could decide to look for half siblings…but I’m sad that she won’t have any brothers or sisters to grow up with…and I’m sad that I don’t get to be pregnant again, breastfeed again...

This leads to feeling frustrated with myself because I really have come to terms with not having more children & knowing that decision is what is best for Elena & I. Knowing it’s the right decision isn’t the same as accepting it, I guess. I get frustrated because my mind wanders to “if only”…if only I’d become a SMC when I was younger, if only I had more time (biologically speaking), more money…

And those “if onlys” make me angry because, like I said, I have never been happier in my entire life. The only thing that could make me happier would be to be a SAHM…which, by the way, is another thing I’m jealous of: moms who get to stay home with their children. Elena is at such a fun age, despite the tantrums & obstinacy…& I hate having to be at work for most of her waking hours!!

Lastly, it’s the feeling of shame I get for being jealous…I have so much…I have what so many women want & don’t get...I’m ashamed for having it & wanting more.

Jealousy, guilt, sadness, anger, frustration, shame…I don’t want to feel this way…it’s a little grey cloud hanging over my otherwise happy & fulfilling life…I’d really rather just have the joy & contentedness.