His speech delays have been there from the get go, but we had gotten to a place where he was "talking like crazy." Sure, he still had a bunch of issues in terms of pronunciation, but he was talking in full sentences and the actual content of what was coming out of his mouth was very advanced and honestly, quite hysterical. I didn't mind following him around on occasion and translating to the people who were meeting him for the first time. Those that ran in his inner circle knew what he was saying and even those who didn't were able to make out most of what he was trying to get across. He was singing songs and repeating very mature, adult phrases and generally just amusing me daily with the things that made their way from his brain out his mouth. I was able to really enjoy my child. I was telling anyone who would listen that "this is such a great age. Three is just great..." And none of that has changed. Three IS great, and he is at a completely magnificent stage in life where honestly, I enjoy him every single minute of every single day.
You knew there was a but, right? Something has happened to his speech very recently. It started about three weeks ago with him repeating the first word of the sentence he was saying. An example, "You, you, you, you like spiders Mommy?" Most of the time it was only while using the word "you" and then the rest would come out fine. Then he started saying, "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, it bath time?" So it happened a couple of times with other words as well. But still the majority of his speech wasn't effected and I just assumed he was having a little brain hiccup or something. Of course, my son gets speech therapy twice a week by two different therapists. So we asked them (my mom takes him to one therapy and I take him to another). The lady from the school district where my mom takes him said to ignore it and that it was probably coinciding with a language "explosion" and the words in his head were taking a bit longer to get out of his mouth and that it would resolve itself in a little while. She analyzed him during her session and didn't see anything to be worried about.
I asked the private speech therapist about it when I saw her. She told me that as long as he was getting stuck on the entire word, that was fine, but if he started getting stuck on the consonant instead of the whole word, then that was something to worry about. Example: "You, you, you, you like spiders" is fine. "y-y-y-y-y-ou like spiders" is not. Get it? She also listened to him during her session and wasn't overly concerned. I went home and analyzed every time he did it and deemed it to be the entire word that was making him stumble, so I stopped freaking out about it.
Then literally in the space of one week, everything changed. He went from being a normal little chatty boy to someone who even I could not understand. Now, I have always been able to understand him. Always. And now I can't. His "stuttering" stopped focusing on just words and shifted into the consonants and not only that, but it started happening several times during a sentence (it used to just be at the beginning of the sentence). In the span of one week it went from just a little blip to it sometimes taking him an entire minute to get his sentence out, and 4 out of 7 words in that sentence were being butchered to the point of being unrecognizable. At Easter last weekend, almost everyone who encountered him asked me what was going on with his speech. His cousin who is 5 asked me why he was talking like that. She also asked him. [Insert Mommy's heart breaking at his face when he stuttered an answer to her that she couldn't understand...] Even The Ex said "what's with the stuttering?" when she saw him last week (isn't she charming?) If I am being totally honest, it has gotten really bad.
This week (from the 13th through the 17th) was his Spring Break at school. My mom and I had both commented on the fact that we were glad he wasn't in school this week because for sure his little friends would be making fun of him if they heard him. And then of course I would have to kill them, and then I would have to have my baby in prison...which isn't a pleasant outcome for anyone concerned... But I digress... Since it is Spring Break, he didn't have his speech therapy with the school district this week. But we did have private therapy. In order to not have this conversation with his therapist with him listening (he hears EVERYTHING and the last thing I want is for him to think I think he is less than perfect in any way...), I typed up a bullet pointed list of what was going on and what had changed in the last week and handed it to her when we walked in. She read it immediately and sat down and instead of pulling out his word cards or something she asked him to tell her about a scene in his favorite movie. (The goal was to get him to use conversational speech as opposed to one word isolated sounds like they usually work on). He stuttered his way through a sentence and immediately she frowned and looked at me and I knew she "got it." She said it was a HUGE difference from the week before. I agreed, all teary eyed and we began to talk about how best to approach this.
Many things have changed in The Boy's world in the last couple of months. And most of them make me feel horrifically guilty because they are a result of my pregnancy and bed rest. But there are a TON more people in his house than there used to be. Things are moving at a different pace. His normal routines have been taken over by people besides me and while those people are magnificent, they tend to "play" more with him and make things into a game. In doing this, they are essentially speeding up the process and making things move faster than they usually do. Some examples:
Whereas it used to just be The Boy and I eating at our table, it is now myself, The Boy, my mom, my step dad, and sometimes my cousin. Everyone talks and has different conversations at one time. The Boy likes to try and keep the center of attention on him but he has to move much quicker and talk much faster to "fit in" with the situation. There is a whole hell of a lot more going on during dinner than there usually is.
Pre-bed rest drama our bedtime routine went like this: Around 7:30ish we would put on jammies, read a book, then watch "Fish" and have half a cup of Pediasure. At 7:55pm we would go back into my bathroom and brush our teeth and then climb into bed. He would take a book to bed with him, we would sing "Sunshine" once, big hugs and then Mommy out. I haven't physically been able to do this anymore recently. [Insert more Mommy guilt here...] So lovingly, my mom has taken over. She is a grandmother and is therefore allowed to not adhere to such strict protocols. So the jammies happens sometime after dinner. The milk and fish tend to stretch out a little longer while The Boy jumps on her and runs around crazy (he sits with me quietly on our big, comfy chair or else he doesn't get to watch. Purpose is to quiet him down). The teeth brushing is more of a sing-song game that apparently involves putting toothpaste on the toothbrush several times throughout the process. And the actual bedtime consists of him singing Sunshine to her once, she singing it to him a couple of times, and full on conversations on what is going to happen the next day. Lot of hugs and "one more" kiss, and then "four more kisses" and well, it takes quite a while.
Let me insert that I truly have NO issue with this whatsoever. My mother is ALLOWED to be a grandmother. She has already done the parenting thing with me and my brother. And I feel so often that she is forced into a parenting role with my child that I try very hard to allow her the "fun" of being a grandparent and NOT a parent. So I sit on the couch and smile and just say to her, "Damn, that process sure does take a lot longer when YOU do it..." but I am not angry about that. I am blessed that she is around to give him that when I [sob] can't.
I could give more examples, but this post is already FAR too long. But the moral of the story is that things have changed in The Boy's routines and his life. His Mommy is pregnant and on bed rest. He has a TON more people "living" in his house than he used to. Things are different and more fun and move faster. Plus there is stress. Is Mommy going to have the baby TODAY? Did we pass or fail tests? Did we get cleared by the doctor? Please don't jump on Mommy honey, you can't jump on her tummy. Mommy needs to rest... He hears ALL of these things. Oh, and we took away his Binky. There have been a lot of changes. And my heart breaks because even though he is as happy as ever, life around him is clearly affecting him.
I have no way to tie up the end of this post. The situation isn't fixed. It is as bad as ever. And I am checking into the hospital and away from him in 2 days. Our speech therapist gave us some techniques to try and ways to cope and deal (don't worry, I won't make this post any longer by talking about them) and we are "on it." If I need to move him up to private therapy twice a week to try and "nip this in the bud," then I will. Financially it will kill me, but I will do it if he needs it. But what I think he needs is for our life to get back to some sort of routine. This chaos is making it worse. And I would love to say that is going to happen very, very soon. But I am going to have a baby in two days. Realistically it will be at least a month before we get into any sort of consistent routine. I just hope that The Boy won't be too negatively affected by the events that are coming.
One last thing to add. I want it known that The Boy does not seem at all unhappy. He seems thrilled by all the extra people who are here to play with him. He loves all the extra attention he is getting. He is thrilled by the idea of his sister and that he gets to meet her in a couple of days. He is happier and healthier than I have seen him in a long time. He is having a blast. The only place that I see any of this affecting him is in his speech. Other than that, he thinks life is just grand right now.