[WARNING: CHILD MENTIONED AND DISCUSSED]
I have felt for a few months that AJ's speech is not where it should be. He has been saying the same three words ("Mama," "Dada", and "Mum-Mum") since around 14 or 15 months, and unlike MJ--who has had an explosion of speech over the past couple of months and now says at least twenty words and parrots many of the things we say to him--he has not added any new words to his vocabulary. So I have been planning for a while to bring this up with his pediatrician at his 18-month well-check which, because of scheduling, was today, even though the boys are now nearly 19 months old.
Our pediatrician agreed that it sounds like AJ has an expressive speech delay and that it makes sense to have him evaluated by a speech and language pathologist. I made an appointment for him this morning and then proceeded to begin filling out a lengthy questionnaire that needs to be completed in advance of his appointment.
This process is when I began to feel like an awful mother. Because I realized I didn't know the answers to questions like. . .
What does your child do when he needs help? (I think he cries or whines. . . but is that always the case?)
What happens if you can't figure out what your child is asking for? What does he do?
Does your child ever seem to be frustrated when communicating?
I realized that I could *guess* at the answers to these questions (and others), but that I did not feel confident that I truly *know* the answers to all the questions on this form. And that realization made me feel sad. How can I not know these things about my own child?
Is it because I don't spend enough time with him? Or because I don't pay enough attention to him when I *am* with him? Or because I don't notice the things he does or his attempts to communicate with me?
And these thoughts made me think that maybe part of the reason AJ doesn't talk the way he should at his age is because of things I should be doing for him, and with him, that I'm not doing. It's a terrible feeling to think that I am in any way responsible for a problem or delay that one of my children has. As their mother, I want to do everything I can to help AJ and MJ get the best possible start in life.
I feel like maybe part of the reason that AJ is struggling in this area is because I have been so caught up in my own struggles of just trying to get through each day that I haven't given him the attention and the interaction he needs. And that makes me feel like an awful mother.