Check out this mom's experience with guilt while going through the evaluation process.
BEING A PARENT IS AMAZING
When you become a parent, whether it’s the 1st, 2nd, or even 3rd time, you feel joy. You look into your baby’s eyes and see perfection. I know for me, I often found myself asking how I got so lucky. How was I the lucky one chosen to be the mom to 4, beautiful babies? You never anticipate anything less than a perfect road. It’s hard to admit when things do, in fact, get bumpy.
As we were trying to complete our family with a 3rd child, we were blessed with twins. It was never something we anticipated, but here we were with this beautiful baby boy and girl to complete our family. And honestly, I know I may hear it for this remark, but it was pretty easy. They settled into our family a lot easier than I thought. They were sleeping through the night at 4 months old. They ate well, and they were super tolerant of our busy schedule with two older kids.
MOM GUILT SETTING IN
At around 15 months old I noticed that both twins didn’t seem to be developing their speech. My boy was very quiet and would just sort of sit by himself watching everyone. My girl began to scream and cry, a lot, and just seemed confused about her day. She didn’t know how to play with toys in the same way her twin brother did. I began the process of early intervention evaluations. My boy qualified right away for speech and by about 20 months old was a completely different kid that is on the verge of graduating from speech. But my girl, she didn’t qualify for anything at the time. She wasn’t quite delayed enough. I started feeling mom guilt that I was upset she didn’t qualify. But, like so many other families, she thrives being one-on-one. For her to sit with a therapist for an evaluation, she was a Rockstar. She did everything she was asked and it left me asking, “what am I doing so wrong?”
Another year passed and things weren’t getting any better. She was now getting older and more explosive. It was then I asked for a new evaluation where they did qualify her for speech, OT, PT, and social work. I remember so vividly sitting in that room and we all agreed we felt that if we could develop her language, her frustrations would go away because she would have words to use rather than just screaming. Now she is nearly 4. Her speech and language is measuring more at the 4.5 year old age. You know what happened? She just had more words to scream at us. Her frustrations and intensity seems to be growing as she ages. So again, I sit with mom guilt asking where I am going wrong? Why can’t I calm her down? In a year where we have been virtually stuck at home, you can imagine how hard days have been when there are no breaks.
TIME FOR AN EVALUATION
In my heart, I know something isn’t quite right. I know what we see at home, versus the child they see at school and in the evaluations. I know this isn’t typical 3-year-old behavior. I decided to fill out the paperwork to get a developmental pediatrician evaluation. When I spoke with the office, I knew it would be several months before she would be seen. I was then told they had a cancellation, and she could be seen in 2 weeks. I was thrilled! We would know more in 2 weeks!
It was the week of the evaluation and I couldn’t sleep. My thoughts were spiraling. I wasn’t afraid of hearing a diagnosis. I was afraid they would look at me and tell me nothing is wrong making me, again, feel I was doing something wrong in raising her. This thought then made me have mom guilt, again, that I was hoping for a diagnosis. For them to see the explosiveness we see. I felt awful that I was wishing this for my child.
We got to evaluation day. As expected, she was amazing for the therapists. She sat and strung every bead. Cut every piece of paper. Had perfect eye contact. Laughed with the therapists. She was everything I wished I would see on a daily basis. Sitting there I, yet again, had guilt. I couldn’t help but think, ‘why do they get to see the best parts of her?’ They began asking me for my input. I felt like I was fighting to plead my case. Telling every single example I could think up to warrant why we were there in the first place. As we sat in the room alone while the therapists and doctor spoke, my little girl who was amazing in her evaluations, began to get agitated and was directing it at me. I was fighting tears and just feeling so lost because I felt they were going to walk in and say nothing is wrong, it’s your parenting. This was the spiral I was allowing myself to be on even though I still knew in my heart, this is not right.
HELP IS ON THE WAY
The doctor walked in to speak further. What I didn’t know was the medical team was just in the next room discussing and they could hear what was going on through the wall. They could hear her screaming at me, and me remaining calm to try and hold it together while comforting her. While they didn’t see it with their eyes, they knew what was happening.
We left that day with an action plan. A plan that would help to correct her behaviors at this crucial, young age, and put her on a better path. I left there feeling relieved and with a newfound energy. I left there feeling confident for the first time in nearly 2 years that my mama heart was right, again.
YOU GOT THIS
Moms, dads, caregivers…whoever needs to read this…don’t ever give up. It’s so hard not to feel guilt, and let yourself spiral when you are doing everything you can to help your child. There are days you will feel defeated. There are days you will feel so joyful when there is progress made. But as our amazing social worker has told me, you are the PERFEFCT person for your child. Don’t ever forget that. Grant yourself grace. Be kind to yourself. Do the workout. Get the pedicure. Make sure your self-care doesn't take a back seat because if you aren't healthy, it's hard to be an advocate for a child who needs your voice. Trust me on this...I speak from experience. All of my self-care has been non-existent until recently and let me tell you...it's amazing and changes your whole approach to a tough day.