Noah has a speech referral. His appointment is on the first of March, in time for him to start nursery in April. As in, so maybe I can decide which way this is all going to go, and if we're going to need to look at "special measures" when he starts school.

This morning kind of took a really sad turn. Lately Noah is very keen to get my attention, but he does it the most obvious way for him, which is to simply ask, "Mummy?"

So what's so bad about that? What's to complain about? That's great!! He can call me!! AWESOME!!!

Whenever I hear that "Mummy?" I'm filled with dread, because I know I won't understand what is going to follow. I know that he'll say it many more times, until he gets my attention, as he almost always does because he asks for it so politely. And then when he does get my attention, it's followed by one of the following.

1. A sign that we have either learnt together, or one that he has made up himself to convey what he means. The latter is dangerous, if I haven't figured out what he is referring to.

2. A word that he knows clear as day, more often than not, "Daddy", "Gah-gag" (Isaac) or "Nenen" (Nana). There is little to no follow up to this. He will either repeat for fun, repeat until I say what he just said (corrected), or he will go off and play.

3. A word that sounds like the majority of vocabulary, "UH" or "EH". This he will usually repeat until I either guess correctly, or distract him with something else.

Now. I can not, just CAN NOT begin to describe what sort of levels of frustration we're dealing with here. Because usually, most of the above will end in tears of frustration or confusion. I don't understand what he wants. I have no clue what he is trying to tell me. And by trying, I mean pretty much driving himself batshit with determination.

All too many times, he's been doing something, and then randomly burst into tears. Not just, gentle whimpering, I mean full on wailing, omg the world is about to end WHY OH GOD WHYYYYYYYY.

I appreciate toddlers are over dramatic. I know they're not easy. I know that they live in as much confusion as most teenagers, I get that. But tell me. What the hell am I supposed to do, exactly? When he's babbling and mumbling and none of it is making the tiniest bit of sense? When he looks at me, stares at me, like why the hell can't I figure out what he's saying and Mummy? Mummy? Mummy? Mummy? Mummy?

I defy you to imagine what it's like to dread hearing that word. No, wait, let me check that. I love to hear it. I love that he can say it. And Daddy, too. With the same questioning inflection, querying, questioning; it's awesome.

But it fills me with dread. Because I don't know what's coming next. I don't know if within a few minutes, we're both going to be reduced to tears because he's trying to tell me something, wants me to do something, that I just do not understand. He hasn't got time to waste, waiting for me to guess a thousand different things, trying to work out what he's saying. He has amazing patience with me at times, I'll grant him that. I don't understand that. But at the same time, in that moment of urgency, when something is so exciting to him and he wants to share it with me, and I can't because I have no clue what's going on that world of his, it breaks me horribly so, that I cannot be there with him, but can only offer excited nodding and big smiles and saying "Yes of course Noah! Yes yes! Look!!", and all the while, not being able to genuinely share in his excitement.

This morning hit a particular low point. He was sat eating his porridge, like a dream. Given his crazy eating habits (whereby I have decided he would sooner do anything, anything than sit and eat), I was over the moon. He got to the bottom of the bowl, and where there was still a bit left. Then he started crying. Hysterically. I have no. Idea. Why.

Because his cereal was almost finished? Because he couldn't scrape the last bit up? Because it was Thomas in the bottom of the bowl and not Lightening McQueen or Peppa Pig?

And then came that stupid annoying thought, the one that wins every time in destroying me and making me feel pathetic.

This is my fault.

It's because of me why he can't say what he wants to say.

I didn't try hard enough.

I didn't help him enough.

So when your kid, who you want so much to just be happy, who you want to help as much as possible...and then the doubt...the self doubt...the criticism...what do you do?

Why can I not help him? Why am I not "finely attuned" to his needs? Why can he not yet string two words together? And why did I not help him towards stringing two words together even sooner? I felt something was up long before I posted anything here. And now here we are, several months later, with words that barely make sense to me, to anyone, and we're all none the wiser.

I hope to god, every day, that at this appointment? They turn to me and say that he's fine and doing ok for development.

Because right now? The kid sobbing in my face saying my name over and over again is not convincing me.
28 Responses
  1. Oh boy that is just heartbreaking.
    I cannot imagine what you must go through with this as there is nothing worse than hearing your baby sob with frustration and there is nothing you can do about it.
    The self doubt and self criticism is part and parcel of being a mum, but the very fact that you're here writing about it and questioning it speaks volumes as to the sort of mother you are.
    Big big hugs to you and your beautiful little boy. x

  2. Just found you through Tara's RT .... and I agree with every word she has written. I hope, really hope that this sorts itself out soon as... as this post is heartbreaking xxx

  3. Anonymous Says:

    None of it is your fault; there will be a reason for this communication difficulty but you mustn't blame yourself. Frustration is all part of being a toddler.

    My daughter still gets frustrated with communication problems and it leads to all kinds of tantrums. She's ten now so it isn't as bad, but we went through it terribly in the early days.

    Another hug from me, please don't blame yourself.

    CJ xx

  4. Thank you Tara. There's so much frustration at the mo, it's exhausting. But I'll fight as much as I can, until know he's gonna be ok. I think maybe that's what I do best.

  5. Just dropping by with a ((hug)).

    I really hope that the referral helps Noah.

    You're a fab Mum, don't go blaming yourself. These little people are all different, have their own quirks and idiosyncrasies and your lovely Noah will get there.


  6. @The Bump Wear Project
    Thank you so much, I really appreciate your support. Like we've all said, I'm sure it'll be fine, but until I know for sure, or as much as possible there'll always be that doubt.
    Thanks again.

  7. Please don't blame yourself. You sound like a brilliant mum that's doing everything you can in this situation. I hope the appointment goes well for you and you get the answers you want.x

  8. @Crystal Jigsaw Thank you. Silly thing is? I KNOW it's not my fault, but still somehow, it's my fault, like I failed him somehow. I know things don't get much easier in general as they grow older (I can't even imagine getting to 10 years...!) so I can only hope that making a fuss now means things are a TINY bit easier in the long run...you know?

    Thanks again xxx

  9. Chic Mama Says:

    Awww, really feel for you. How old is he?
    My toddler went through a phase of repeating what he was saying over and over again until I had repeated what he'd said correctly. He wouldn't stop and we'd both end up getting frustrated. His speech has suddenly come on in leaps. My second son said nothing until he was three.
    And of course it is nothing you have done/or haven't. They're all different, don't beat yourself up about it. I hope it all sorts itself out.

  10. @Insomniac Mummy Thanks so much. These Smalls do try us, don't they??!? I will of course keep you all updated with any news, good or bad.

  11. @Mommy Outnumbered Thank you so much. I'm trying my very best, as much as I can! :) I just hope we can get some sort of help, info or advice that means we can move forward, in whatever direction that may be.
    Thanks again

  12. @Chic Mama Noah is 25 months tomorrow! I know there's still time...but that gut instinct won't leave me alone, you know? Whatever happens, I'm sure it'll be ok, somehow, in the end.
    Thanks so much xxx

  13. Aly Says:

    How can it be your fault? Can you turn to your health visitor for support? You sound very lonely and in need of a shoulder to cry on.I've added you to my reader.Big hug x

  14. Man, that's a tough one. I used to blame the parents of kids who couldn't communicate, assuming the parents just didn't try hard enough to teach them. I've learned that for some its harder than others and I feel terrible about my prior judgmental attitude.

    One tip that I've tried with kids I've know with speech disorders is to exaggerate the pronunciation of words with my mouth and have the kids try to imitate those mouth movements. It takes real patience and as an aid in classrooms for kids with special needs, sometimes I wanted to run screaming.

    I'm sure you're doing the best you can with what you have, and its super easy to blame yourself. But parents learn as much as they teach and even if there was a handbook, it all be trial by fire.

    Keep your head up. I'm sure you're an awesome mommy and your little one will get through this struggle. (((hugs)))

  15. @Aly I have no idea, but somehow, it seems to be. He's my responsibility, right? He's around me the most, so I should teach him as much as I can, right? *sigh* For some reason that's the way my mind works. I'm a fighter, and when something goes wrong, the first person I look to is myself.
    I really do appreciate your support, thank you so much.

  16. @KymleeIsAwesom There's the irony; I'm trying everything I can with him; I sometimes have him hold his hand to my lips while I speak the words, I read dozens of books to him all the while, he watches speech and sign programmes and films, speaking everything to him directly face to face...and yet, here we still are. I would hate to think for one second that I slackened in helping him. Until his appointment, time will tell.
    Thank you so much xxx

  17. Anonymous Says:

    See You are doing everything you can, you are a fantastic Mum. I cannot imagine how gut wrenching that must be for you - I was in tears reading about it. I know bits of this as my boy developed his own language, few words english, but I was lucky, he had a sister who magically understood and would translate for us, and we learnt it. But the frustration when he was talking to his grandparents, or anyone else was horrible - they would guess and guess and guesss and he would be so hurt and it was so so sad to watch - my parents were determined to do it 'on their own' so I wasn't allowed to help :(
    It turned out he skipped a whole set of sounds - still says 's'his own special way, but with speech therapy and i think just exposure to other kids and life has learnt understandable speech.
    You are doing all the right things, and the fact that you care so much speaks volumes about you as a Mum, if he does have any problems, you will be there and you will help so so so much and all will be well, I am sure.*hugs*

  18. Anonymous Says:

    Oh my darling girl, how awful it must be for you all. Of course it's not your fault, but of course you feel that it must be. I wish I could offer words of advice, but I truly have none. All I can offer is my support across the internet, and my virtual shoulder for you to cry on. Oh, and a virtual glass of wine if that would help...

  19. I really feel for you. I think you commented on my post about my daughter's struggles to walk but she got there in the end. I thought it was my fault too. It wasn't. Noe is it yours. She had speech problems too, it took a rong time for her to get her words out. I found that Makaton helped. It was hugely frustrating. Past tense, because it does get better. I know, to an extent, what you are going through. Hang in there honey.

  20. Josie Says:

    Just catching up.

    I hear you honey, ok? I HEAR YOU. I know how much it hurts and I know how living with that kind of frustration day in day out can pull you apart.

    Love you lots and lots and here with you every day riding this out. Always, always here my mama partner in crime. Don't you dare have a bad day on your own.

    Thinking of you so much and so glad I have found you xxxxxx

  21. Jordan Says:

    This is the first time i have read your blog, and all i can do is send you lots of hugs.

    That was a really heartbreaking post & i am sorry you are going through this.

    I hope you & your son get through it & you get the news you want at that meeting.

    Be strong. J, x

  22. Amy Says:

    My 2year old has just been refered for speech therapy too so i know exactly what you're going through. I felt totaly to blame too but i know that i've done everything i can do to help her. She's recently been having hearing tests to rule out any sort of hearing problems and we found out that she has trouble hearing quiet sounds. could you ask to check his hearing to rule anything like that out too?

    I hope things get better and i'm sure they will, i'm clinging on to that hope too so you're not alone. thinking of you love amy xxxxx

  23. jayne Says:

    I've just found your blog post through Tara's Twitter RT.
    What you have described is so moving and I can only imagine your frustration and anger.
    None of this is your fault, you are doing a fantastic job. Your are clearly a very caring mother who wants the best for her son.
    I really hope that once you get on the intervention ladder, you begin to see an improvement in his communication.
    In the meantime, hugs, hugs, hugs to you and Noah.
    You're not alone.

  24. @lifeslightlyused - I often wonder how Isaac (9 months) will do in terms of language development, and how the two will interact. It's so awesome that your two understood each other, I hope my two are so lucky. I'm also pleased your little boy was able to learn to speak. Thank you for your words

    @More than Just a Mother - sometimes words of advice aren't needed; support is more than enough for me. And I'll never say no to virtual wine! ;o)

    @Rosie Scribble We're using very basic signing with Noah, and it IS frustrating, but I'm reassured knowing it does get better. It's all too easy to blame ourselves; maybe with some answers I can redirect my frustration. Thank you so much (and also for the RT) xxx

    @Josie I know babe. It's almost wrong that we both understand it all too well; we shouldn't have to have an understanding of it, you know? Thanks so much. We really need to chat again soon. xxxxxx

    @Jordan Thank you so very much, I really appreciate your support. I'll update as soon as there is any news, whatever it may be.

    @Amy Lot's of people have queried his hearing, and even though it seems fine, it's something I'm looking into. Our HV sucks A LOT. I'll track you down to email, ok? Thanks so much.

    @jayne I almost want to say don't even try to imagine!! I wouldn't wish this on anybody. And yes, I want nothing but the best I can give for my boys. That's what we do...right? Thanks so much

  25. MuddynoSugar Says:

    You are doing everything you can, your little boy loves you. I haven't the words, but don't blame yourself.

  26. @MuddynoSugar Your support and kindness is more than enough. Thank you. xxx

  27. Anonymous Says:

    You're his Mummy & he knows that. You love him & he knows that. That's all that matters isn't it? You can cope with whatever together.

  28. @whiskeyforaftershave That's some of what matters to us both. Am I to ignore the screams of frustration from him? Do they not matter? And here's the irony; how do you tell a frustrated toddler that it will be ok, when he doesn't even understand? *sigh*