What Communication?

I was always very aware during my pregnancy with Poppy that she may not be born healthy. This wasn’t anything to do with my pregnancy but I just knew it was smart to not expect her to be born and have no issues. I had seven weeks of being her mum before the mum I had started to become changed forever. Now if this is the first post you have read on this blog it might be an idea to go to my about me section linked below to learn a little more about Poppy, she’s a complex little lady.

Waiting for Poppy’s first surgery we were taken into the “family” room, I write that in quotations because in fact it was simply the only private space on the ward and it was where all the bad news was given. We spoke with a neurologist who felt it necessary to speak with about Poppy’s future or potential lack of. We were told she may never walk or talk. That even if she did walk there was a possibility she’d walk with a limp or have weakness down her left side. At that point I had no expectation of Poppy, I just wanted her to be better.

Months passed and a lot of other complications with Poppy and my second pregnancy came along with that. But not like we were told she lifted her head up, rolled over, crawled, stood up and walked. All with no issues, some things took her a little longer but at the age of one, she was walking. We were relieved, it was less painful watching her grow up than I prepared myself for. Unfortunately, not long after her first birthday, things didn’t progress. Poppy never spoke or laughed, it wasn’t until now that she started to babble as an eight-month-old baby does. I was floored, but hopeful.

Aren’t people just wonderful? I got hit with all the words of encouragement. But people in a state of awkwardness fill space with their pointless words. Here’s just a few I’ve heard a few times:

  • “You’re only given what you can handle” – like there is some system where people get given the babies with more complicated futures? This comment instantly takes away all the struggle and pain I go through. I still can’t comprehend at what point any parent decides this is what I could handle. If you have a child and they get sick, you find that strength. God knows where it comes from but at that moment you run on adrenaline and you find that fight to care and look after them. It’s our job, it’s what we agreed we would do when we decided to have them. But I was not given this because I could handle it, I just have to.
  • “My child had speech and language therapy and they’re fine!” – I’m really glad, I’m glad your child is fine. But what you’ve been through with your child isn’t what I’m going through with mine. Now that isn’t because our situation is more important it’s just different. It isn’t comparable. If that’s how things worked we would be measuring our children by impossible standards. Now the reality of it is, Poppy had a stroke. Just like an adult who has a stroke some struggle to speak again, some don’t at all. That is our reality but Poppy never had the chance to build the connections to know how to speak in the first place, we have no foundation to work off we are having to build it ourselves.

Holly my youngest daughter is nearly one and for the past few months has been copying words and noises and can understand me to a point. It was only then that I realised the enormity of the task we have ahead with Poppy and how far she has come. It was hard not hearing her laugh, and now we do.

It’s funny because talking is something that just happens for children just like with Holly. But there is a minority of children who can’t speak naturally. So if you have a child who isn’t talking yet look back on how far they’ve come and most importantly celebrate small achievements. And for those whos child speaks and you are sick of them asking you the same question one hundred times a day, be thankful. Be thankful that mammoth task came naturally to them, I envy you and hope one day my daughter will not only just laugh but tell me what she thinks is funny.

Danielle Swan x