The brief, wondrous birth of Archibald Kevin

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I didn’t mean to give up blogging completely during my cuarentena (literally, quarantine, and also the 40 day postpartum period). I know most of my readers have been introduced to Archie through my social media, but I had to write a birth story.

I loved going back to read Xavi’s birth story as those moments got lost in the day to day of raising an infant who transformed into a busy toddler. I also enjoyed hearing from other moms about how their experiences differed from their first child to second, third, etc. So, I had to record my own experience.

***

Six weeks ago, Archibald Kevin was born. We checked in to the hospital around 2. Archie arrived  at 5:13 pm. He was smallish at 6 pounds, 5 ounces, 19 inches long. Just like his big brother, he had a full head of hair.

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Now, for the unabridged version.

I woke up on Monday, August 29th with contractions. It was about 5:30 am, a bit earlier than I typically wake up. The contractions weren’t too painful just yet. In fact, if I wasn’t 5 days past my due date, I’d think it was false labort. I tried to sleep through them, but was unsuccessful.

When Sean woke up, I told him I was having mild contractions. We went through the normal routine of breakfast and taking Xavi to daycare. Instead of going in to work, Sean returned to stay with me. Throughout the morning we timed the contractions, did a few loads of laundry, packed my hospital bag and watched a few episodes of Fresh Off the Boat. By late morning there was still no discernible pattern to the contractions and the pain was still mild.

I had a 12:30 midwife appointment. Since I was pretty sure I was in early labor, I called ahead and asked if I should keep it or just go to the hospital once contractions got closer. The nurse said I should go in to the clinic as they’d be able to tell me about how much longer I should labor at home before going to the hospital.

When I went in, the midwife confirmed that I was in early labor and 5-6 cm dilated and almost fully effaced. This surprised me given that I wasn’t in that much pain yet and the contractions weren’t even following a pattern.

“Do you have plans afterward?” she asked.

We were a little confused by the question.

“No, we have my hospital bag in the car,” I told her.

She suggested we make our way to the hospital and not delay too much given that this was my second child and I could progress quickly. She called the hospital and told them we’d be checking in shortly.

We went home, ate a little and called our parents to update them. Sean and I arrived at the hospital shortly before 2 pm.

I tried to go through the check-in desk quickly and was led over to a labor and delivery room. 

Once checked in, the midwife on duty and student midwife shadowing her came to check on me. They confirme that I was at 7 cm and  worked out a plan. I’d get the epidural, then they would break my water and hopefully things would advance fine from there.

By this point the contractions were definitely painful. I asked our nurse for an exercise ball to labor on while I waited for pain management. Sean put on some music (Mexrrissey and Juan Gabriel) to take my mind off the pain.

The anesthesiologist came in shortly after. While he did his work, he made small talk that fell flat.

“Where are you from?”

“Huh, what do you mean?”

“Yeah, are you from Ithaca?”

“No, I moved here from California last year.”

“Ah, California. The cereal state.”

“Huh?”

“Yeah, it’s full of fruits, flakes, and nuts.”

I was a bit confused and annoyed, but it was probably because he was about to take a giant needle and stick it in my spinal column. I knew the whole procedure would be very uncomfortable even if worth the pain relief. I didn’t need him making dumb jokes.

I asked Sean to turn off the music, because I couldn’t focus on what the anesthesiologist was saying with “El Noa Noa” in the background.

I wish I could say the epidural worked like magic as it had with Xavi. Nope, there was no way I’d be able to nap or read a magazine this time.

Technically, the epidural did work and my legs felt tingly. But, I still felt a lot of pain from the contractions. It also didn’t help that I was required to be in the worst position for laboring and managing pain, on my back and then my side so I would continue to progress.

Sean told the nurse that I was still in pain, it didn’t seem like the epidural was effective. After confirming that it was working, the anesthesiologist said he didn’t want to make it stronger as it might interfere with effectively pushing. I wanted to argue and say that I couldn’t feel anything with Xavi and was able to push him just fine, but the idea of sitting still for him to redo it seemed even more painful. He and the nurse suggested pushing the button to get a boost of the medicine every 15 minutes and that helped manage the pain.

Soon, the midwife and student midwife were back. I was a bit nervous when I was told that with my consent, the student midwife would break my water. I know medical professionals need to learn but wasn’t excited about being part of someone’s teachable moment. Luckily, with her teacher guiding her she did fine and I continued to progress. They told me that soon I’d feel the need to push and should let the nurse know so they could come back for delivery.

I was a little nervous I wouldn’t feel the pressure and need to push. With Xavi, I never felt this urge. My midwife just informed me that it was time after I awoke from a nap. Despite my fear, I had no need to worry. Less than half an hour after the midwives left, I was calling them back. They confirmed that it was time and prepped the room/bed.

Sean stood by my side. It was all happening much quicker and soon we would be meeting our child.

I did as instructed and pushed. They offered words of encouragement and told me I was doing well as they could see the baby coming. I pushed for six minutes and the baby was out.

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They put a quiet baby on my chest, there were no immediate wails. Nor was there an announcement from the midwives announcing the baby’s sex as you see in the movies. I quickly checked as the baby was handed to me.

A boy! Sean’s intuition was right all along.

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I cuddled him and was overcome with emotion and love. I felt a rush of adrenaline and accomplishment. I did it. He was here.

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I felt like Xavi’s birth happened in a dream, but with Archie I was fully present. I felt everything despite the epidural. I felt more supported and encouraged by the midwives and nurses attending to me. I relied on Sean more too, especially as the pain got more difficult and I needed to hold his hands or for him to advocate for me.

***

A few hours after Archie was born and we announced to our immediate families, Sean went to pick up Xavi. They returned and a very excited Xavi came in to meet his little brother. I’d never seen him smile like this.

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It was wonderful and I’m so glad Sean caught the moment on video.

All photos by Sean.

Forty plus one

I wrote these thoughts yesterday morning. I now realize there’s a few similarities between what I wrote on Xavi’s due date and what I feel on Bubble’s due date.

I seem to have skipped the nesting phase. I didn’t have it big with Xavi either, but there was definitely more prep in readying our home.

I’m glad baby didn’t come over the weekend. Xavi’s babysitter was out of town. She’s our plan for when I go in to labor. We don’t have a backup. Unless, of course, baby comes once my parents arrive.

My mom and dad will be here in a week!

I went on maternity leave just as the fall semester was starting. The transition from summer university life to fall has always rankled me and I’m not sad to skip it.

Despite being on leave I’m still doing work from home. A busy summer meant getting work done but not planning as much as I needed to for leave.

I have a prenatal massage today. I double checked with the spa to make sure that I wouldn’t be charged for canceling late if I do go in to labor.

Currently reading A House of My Own: Stories from My Life by Sandra Cisneros and it’s amazing. I’ve already cried about three times. She feels like my wise tía and such a poet in the sense that she writes what others feel.

Part of what bummed me out about Xavi being a week late was waiting through important days. I thought it would be SO cool if he was born on Papá Chepe’s birthday. As the patriarch of a big family he had no birthday twins and it was time for at least one.

Added today

Lots of people ask me if Xavi is excited about becoming a big brother. Before a few days ago, I’d say I didn’t really know. And if he was excited, it wasn’t expressed the way he typically shows (jumping, eyes lighting up in that “oh, boy, oh boy!” sense).

But I think the efforts we’ve been making have helped. He has books about becoming a big brother and having a baby in the home. He’s seen the apartment start to be populated with baby things. On Saturday, he attended a “siblings are special” class at the hospital. We pushed it by scheduling the class just a few days before my due date, but the previous date didn’t work for me due to work. Xavi got to tour the labor and delivery ward again (he went with us the first time we toured), saw a real newborn in the nursery, made a birthday poster for baby, and got to practice helping change a baby’s diaper.

40 weeks

During his recent speech therapy appointment his therapist brought a baby doll. She told Sean that Xavi did really well feeding the baby, brushing hair, hugging and singing baby songs. He was very sweet and gentle.

He’s also started doing a baby act. He does a “wah waaah” cry if we mention a baby and wants to be held in a cradle position. I ask him what baby needs. Diaper change? Feeding? Cuddles? A nap? And he just laughs.

And at a recent baby shower, he gave a 2 month old baby a gentle hug unprompted.

Yesterday, Sean and Xavi went to pick me up at the spa. Xavi asked Sean if they were going to the hospital to get me and baby.

He still doesn’t say, “yes” if you ask if he’s excited. But I think he is.

As for how I’m feeling? No signs of labor starting — that’s what people really want to know. And okay, but uncomfortable as one would expect a woman to feel late in pregnancy. I took long walks while waiting for Xavi but won’t be doing that because it’s hot and humid. Plus, I’m just not that comfortable.

Enough: On reaching milestones

When he first smiled as a tiny baby, I remember thinking, this is amazing. It was enough. And then he laughed and I wondered, how did I ever know how beautiful life could be before I heard his laugh? And then he clapped and showed his approval when I sang and my heart felt like it was going to burst. It was the best compliment I’d ever received and I wondered how I even knew he liked the songs before he clapped and smiled approvingly.

Each of these little milestones floored me at the time. They were all enough in the sense that I didn’t think, “I can’t wait until he’s doing X.” In that moment, they were exactly what I needed and wanted as a new mom. My son was happy and healthy and, like the nursery song goes, he was showing it with his clapping and smiling. And yet, when he added something — words, songs, dances, expressions, his own jokes — it became even better.

How does it just keep getting better? This is the way it’s designed to be, right?

One day I’m singing the lullaby and then the next he’s singing along. One moment I’m leading bedtime prayers for his grandparents and other family members. The next he chimes in that he wants to pray for his iPad and Grandma Eula’s iPad. While Sean suppresses giggles, I call him a joker. Xavi doubles down with the banana, banana, banana, orange knock-knock joke. But it’s only the orange part, his favorite. When he clamors for songs from his favorite musical, Hamilton, I object because cabinet battles get him too riled up, not something conducive to bedtime. So I go with the lullaby, “Dear Theodosia.”

As I sing “and you’ll blow us all away, some day, some day” he joins in. It’s harmonious and perfect. He’s a good little singer. He gets it from his grandpa, my dad.

And I thought, this is amazing. He’s no longer a baby, but it’s still the best feeling. I know from just three years and a week into this that there will be many more of these moments (si Dios quiere), but they’ll catch me off guard. My response will likely be the same. I’ll be awed, amazed and bursting with love and pride.

I don’t yet know what it will be, but it will be enough. It always is.

Xavi is three

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Xavi has been in speech therapy in Ithaca for less than a year. However, Sean and I have already met with a number of professionals in early intervention who consistently ask us to describe our son. The last time we did it was in a meeting with school district officials as Xavi’s impending third birthday meant he would age out of early intervention services through the county health department and his speech therapy would be handled by the local school district.

“Tell us about your son. What are his strengths? What does he like doing? What does he need to work on?”

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Despite having to answer this question in some way, a number of times, the inclusion of “strengths” threw me off. I suspect Sean felt the same as he was silent longer than me. I read and write evaluations all the time at work, but didn’t want to feel like I was doing the same for my son.

Still, I answered.

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I told them that at five days shy of his third birthday, Xavi was still enamored by all things related to trains (“toot toots”). He’s expanded his fandom to other forms of transportation. He loves anything that moves. Cars are fun to play with, he loves to ride the bus and gets excited when he sees the diggers at the construction sites around town. He asks to go to the airport too.

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I told the two women who work with the school district, our current coordinator of services with the county and Xavi’s new speech therapist (his first one in Ithaca moved away a month ago), that Xavi likes books and puzzles. Since his exponential word growth began in March – same time he began going to a small group home daycare full-time – he’s added in singing. He sings “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” stealing my job as we go through the bedtime routine.

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He’s very affectionate and loving, he gives the best hugs and sloppy kisses. He’s friendly and very good at remembering all the people in his life who love him tremendously. He’s taken more to pretend play with his toys. He loves bubbles, running and jumping on the bed, in puddles or on dad. Sean added that he’s great with directions and can probably lead you to any train table in Ithaca as well as Dunkin Donuts.

Xavi the Hamiltot

I forgot to brag that he knows his alphabet, can count to ten, knows his shapes and that he’s a Hamiltot, a toddler who has joined the Hamilton fandom (“Hamilwin” to him). [Look at my son! Pride is not the word I’m searching for, there is so much more inside me now!]

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I noted that even though he is WAY more verbal than he was at this time last year, he can improve on his pronunciation. For example, he says “pip” rather than “chip” despite having no problem with “cheese.” The speech therapist called this fronting and stopping. Although Sean and I understand him about 75% of the time, he’s intelligible to those who don’t know him about half the time. When he talks to himself during play time he’s even less intelligible.

When we finished, one of the school district representatives, “Wow, you really know your son. He’s lucky to have such involved parents.”

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Really, I feel lucky to be Xavi’s mom, to get to see him grow and change – while still being just as cuddly as ever – in everything from hair to speech to having a little brother or sister.

***

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Today is Xavi’s third birthday. We celebrated over the weekend in Long Island. My mother-in-law invited family, neighbors and friends from church. When it was time for the cake, Xavi was so excited. He even sang “Happy Birthday” along with his guests.

The only downside was that we were rained out, but I don’t think Xavi minded because there were balloons, new toys and cake.

Happy birthday, Xavi!

Most photos by Sean [Flickr]. See his favorites from the past year on his blog.

This time around

I say/write “this time around” a lot these days when talking/writing about my pregnancy. I can’t think about what’s happening now without my reference point of 2012/13.

It’s all feels so different and that amazes and baffles me. How could it have been so easy just a few years ago? Why am I still feeling morning sickness/nausea at the end of the 2nd trimester?

The big — and most important — things are still the same. Once again I’m experiencing an uncomplicated rather “easy” pregnancy and all signs point to carrying a health baby. I can’t complain.

But I still think I should write something, just so I have it for reference to look back on. If these kids ever want to know what they were like in utero, I can go to my archives and say, “Xavi, we called you Meatball and you didn’t kick me until 23 weeks! I was totally freaking out. And ______, we didn’t find out if you were a boy or a girl. Your nickname was Bubble and you began kicking/punching around 18 weeks.”

Bump and Xavi photobomb

What’s the same:
Relatively uncomplicated
Carrying “small.” I haven’t gained much weight, but ditched my pre-pregnancy pants around 20 weeks.

Different:
Seemingly everything.

Health care
Since we moved states and I have a new employer, I have different health insurance and new healthcare providers. In LA I had Kaiser Permanente, a large HMO. I was assigned an OB/Gyn after my first same-day appointment at about 5 weeks just to confirm I was pregnant with a blood test. My doctor was pretty awesome and my prenatal care was truly “covered.” I never had a co-pay for any visits or anything diagnostic such as a test or ultrasound. In fact, the only thing I paid for was parking until delivery/hospital stay which was a reasonable co-pay of $250. We did pay for optional labor and newborn prep course. All labs, ultrasounds — which I had every single visit — and breastfeeding support was covered. I never even saw a bill from Kaiser.

This time I’ve found a local practice that has both midwives and ob/gyns. I’ve opted to only see the midwives as I’m comfortable with that. Instead of seeing the same provider every four weeks, I see whoever is available when I schedule. So far, I’m happy with my care but grumbling about co-pays, co-insurance and prenatal care that isn’t 100% covered as I thought when I chose my benefits plan. I was pretty confused when I got my first bill for the first trimester blood draw to test things like my iron level. I know I’m fortunate to have insurance and we can afford the costs, but it’s still much different. As for quality of care, gone are the days of seeing my baby at every appointment. I took that for granted with Xavi, but was so excited for the 20-week anatomy scan because I’d get to see baby again! The baby’s profile looked so much like Xavi and I can’t wait to see what he/she looks like. I do have competent, kind and respectful caregivers. They don’t treat me like I’m ancient just because I’m 35 years old or push extra tests on me.

Xavi and Bubble

Symptoms
I had it pretty easy with Xavi. I tell people that on the same day I went in to labor at 41 weeks I took a long midday walk hoping it would help get labor started since I was scheduled for an induction the next morning. The walk was more of a hike since the 5-mile route is pretty hilly. I didn’t run, but I did stay active through walking and generally felt okay. I had my weird dizzy spells, but was able to get through them okay and never actually fainted. As for nausea/morning sickness, it was fairly mild.

Bubble is kicking my butt. My morning sickness in the first trimester was much worse than with Xavi. I was happy on the days I kept all my meals down. Once the fatigue and nausea let up in the second trimester then the constant colds started. This coincided with Xavi starting daycare. I got whatever he got, but worse and for a longer period. The congestion made my symptoms worse. All the sickness has probably contributed to slower weight gain. I also have more aches and pains. It’s probably a combination of second pregnancy, age and being heavier than I was in 2012/13. I’m also feeling the effects of being less active. I get tired walking short distances or being on my feet a lot. I know with the Ithaca heat and humidity I’ll feel more uncomfortable.

Baby
I didn’t feel Xavi move until nearly 23 weeks. It stressed me out. When he did move, I never felt it was uncomfortable, no sharp kicks or jabs. It was most amusing when he had hiccups. I’ve felt Bubble move since 18 weeks and he/she is pretty active. It’s nice to be in the middle of work and be distracted by Bubble dancing around in there, but sometimes it just feels weird. 

We also don’t know the sex. I liked knowing with Xavi. Since we were preparing a nursery and my family was planning a big baby shower, it gave some guidance on how we wanted to decorate or what gifts family/friends might want to buy. I know that’s not necessary, but gender neutral clothes is harder to find than it should be. Once we found out baby was a boy, it made things more concrete and helped us move forward on the name.

With Bubble we are not setting up a new nursery and already have all the key baby equipment. If the baby is a boy, then he’ll have tons of hand me downs. If a girl, she can wear Xavi’s clothes too and I know her grandmothers will go nuts buying her new stuff.

Names
With Xavi we had a shortlist for boy and girl names midway through. We had a front-runner by 6 months.

I’m not sure we even have a shortlist yet. (Update: Sean disagrees and is lobbying for his first choice boy name. He’s also convinced we are having a boy.)

B&W party pre-pic

Emotions, excitement and stuff
I’ve read about other women not connecting as much to a second pregnancy. I can relate. It’s not that I’m not excited, but a lot of the preparation we did for Xavi isn’t happening this time around for space/logistics reasons.

Being away from our families and almost all our close friends adds another layer. In LA, my mom and sister would be oohing and aahing over my bump and friends would ask the standard questions, “Do you know what you’re having? Any names?”

Here, few people actually know I’m expecting and if they do they’re not asking questions which I think is a factor of age. From my previous experience, I knew that college/grad students aren’t that excited about babies. In LA it seems like everyone is pregnant. Four of my cousins have had babies this year or are expecting and a few close friends have also had babies.

I did feel some of the excitement when I was in LA recently for Adrian and Alexis’ wedding. It seemed like all my tías and cousins had an opinion on the baby’s sex based on how I was carrying (low vs high) or if Xavi was clingy/jealous. I also got to meet/see some of the new babies in the family/friend group. Xavi even held his newest baby cousin, 2.5 month old Zack, and it was adorable.

I definitely feel Bubble and think about him/her, but I have a lot less time to just sit around and contemplate this baby and think about how our lives are going to change. I already know what labor and birth is like, though I know better to expect the same. This goes for newborn life too. When I get home, I’m not reading my baby book or pregnancy blogs. I’m playing with Xavi, doing the dishes with him, reading to him or trying to get ahead on work for the next day. And I’m thinking of how to prepare Xavi too.

The womb where it happens

This is how I wanted to announce my second pregnancy. Because small Hamilton obsession.  (Nope, still haven’t seen it.)

 

Sean didn’t even like me joking about waiting a month to tell him just so I could use the line from That Would be Enough. I didn’t. He found out right away, not that I could’ve kept it a secret. Yay first trimester nausea and vomiting (worse this time around). Now it doesn’t make sense because I’ve known since before Christmas. 

 
I have to admit that Sean’s pregnancy/pop culture mashup announcement is better. It features big-brother-to-be, Xavi, required when announcing a second pregnancy via social media.  And Star Wars may be a bit more recognizable than Hamilton. 

Enjoy the video

Oh! I’m due mid/late August, currently 20 weeks. We don’t know the baby’s sex despite being able to know rather early due to a blood test for chromosomal abnormalities. Since they look at chromosomes they can tell the sex with 99% certainty. No need to wait until the anatomy scan or for baby to be in a showy mood. I took the test at 14 weeks, but didn’t look at my results. The midwife just gave me info about the relevant results for baby’s development and health. We will likely wait until birth, much to the chagrin of the grandmothers. They don’t like that they’ll have to Wait for It.

Tips on preparing Xavi for his transition to big brother status are welcomed! 

Apologies to Lin-Manuel Miranda for bastardizing his song title. 

Introducing Xavi Be Like

I met Sean in 2002 but I didn’t get to know him until many years later. Enter our blogs. I read his blog, he read mine and we discovered we had a lot in common when it came to music, TV shows and the like. We’ve both been blogging so long that sometimes it feels like we’ve run out of topics, at least the ones we’re interested in sharing on a public blog. Parenting isn’t one of those topics.

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As the child of two long time bloggers, it was only a matter of time before Xavi had his own blog (sorta).

Xavi Be Like is a collection of animated GIFs about toddler life and all the emotions it induces. Xavi’s an awesome kid, but he’s also a toddler who is, well, a toddler. There’s a reason “terrible twos” is a common — phrase not that it applies to our little angel. Nope.

Use your words: Starting over and a review of ‘Late-Talking Children’

Use your words, part I

Before we moved from LA I requested my medical records and did the same for Xavi. It was pretty much all review except for the results of Xavi’s initial assessment with the speech language pathologist. I remember looking through PDF and seeing the raw score, the age equivalent and percentile ranking and feeling like I’d been sucker punched. I wanted to cry.

What I heard from the SLP was “Xavi should get one hour of speech therapy. He also qualifies for early intervention pre-school. Let’s set up the former and you can look into the latter.”

It was something like that. On paper the situation seemed more dire.

Xavi started speech therapy for an hour a week and attended for about six weeks before we moved. The location was close and convenient and Xavi liked playing with new-to-him toys and running around the indoor gym/playground. He was also starting to make some improvements.

In the midst of starting a new job, getting acclimated, and moving I dropped the ball when it came to continuity for Xavi’s speech therapy. I finally called the county early intervention office after his second birthday. I shouldn’t have waited so long. I assumed that with our medical records and Xavi’s initial assessment in April he’d be able to start therapy soon. Nope.

Since we’re in New York, we had to restart the process. I wanted to kick myself. I should’ve called as soon as my new insurance kicked in on my first day at the new job. As expected, it’s taken several weeks to get Xavi in speech therapy once again. In the mean time he’s taken to communicating through lots of pointing, pulling us along, nodding his head, signing and using a few words. I’d love to hear him say “‘Bye, mamá” when I leave for work, but right now a big hug, waving goodbye are enough to give me warm fuzzies.

Below is our timeline:

  • August 3ish: Initial referral, I called the early intervention office
  • August 8: Receive the early intervention parent handbook
  • August 24: Intake session with coordinator
  • September 14: Assessment with speech and occupational therapists; immediately get results which confirm that Xavi has a speech delay and qualifies for services. Devise a plan with the intake coordinator.
  • Currently: Waiting for Xavi’s first appointment with his speech therapist in a week

Aside from waiting, the process has been pretty painless. After reading Late-Talking Children: A Symptom or a Stage? by Stephen Camarata I was worried that we’d have someone who would be pushing a diagnosis that didn’t fit or advocated something that could be harmful.

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I started reading Late-Talking Children in the spring. I saw it a bookstore on campus and was intrigued enough to request it from the LA Public Library. I slacked on it and only got through the first couple of chapters. I bought the e-book and finished the second two-thirds a few weeks ago.

Late-Talking Children was exactly what I was looking for. It’s easy to go online and read some parenting magazine’s short post/article about speech delay or another parent’s experience, but I wanted evidenced-based info that was also accessible. Camarata lays out the current research and what is known about late-talking children while also including anecdotes seen through his clinic at Vanderbilt University.

Pointing

While Late-Talking Children is very useful and reassuring, it also left me a bit worried and stressed. The first few chapters made me think that Xavi’s speech delay was a stage he’d grow out of rather than a symptom of something else typically linked to speech delay, particularly autism. This was probably why I got lazy and stopped reading initially. Plus, by that time Xavi was already in speech therapy and we were happy with the services he was receiving.

As I started reading more I got worried. Camarata writes about several cases where parents and their children didn’t receive the treatment they needed or clinicians/educators insisted on a certain diagnosis. He acknowledges that these instances are not the norm, but it’s still enough to make you think you’re going to need to go to battle every time you speak to a pediatrician, teacher, speech therapist or other professional who works with early intervention programs. Plus, I couldn’t help wondering about the socioeconomic aspect. I imagine it can be intimidating to argue about an IEP with teachers or clinicians if you’re not fluent in English or they talk down to you because you don’t have multiple degrees from fancy colleges or universities, not that this means everything will be easy as seen through Camarata’s personal experience. He and his wife, an experienced speech pathologist, faced challenges trying to get their late-talking son in a mainstream classroom. While they were both experts in this area, they still faced push back from the teachers and clinicians who were supposed to have his son’s best interest at heart. Yikes.

Thus far, I haven’t felt like I’m doing battle. It’s been the opposite as the only challenge has been waiting a pretty normal amount of time from referral to beginning speech therapy. The handbook we received from NY early intervention office clearly outlines parents’ rights such asking for a second evaluation or declining services. For instance, if the occupational therapist found that Xavi had issues with fine or gross motor skills and recommended occupational therapy, I could have declined this without affecting his right to have speech therapy.

Interesting thing to note: Camarata never mentions bilingualism as a possible cause for late-talking in his section on characteristics of late-talking children.

Overall, I recommend reading Late-Talking Children if you want to be better prepared to advocate for your child if he/she needs early intervention services.

Late summer

Xavi’s review: I like this book because there’s a train on the cover. [Seriously, I had to hide the hardcover book when I had it because Xavi would take it away from me. He loves his trains and instantly likes a book more if it includes a picture of a train.]

Xavi gets baptized

Godparents and parents

Sean and I have a lot to do in before we leave LA. One of the things that seemed most urgent was getting Xavi baptized.

It was never a question that he would be baptized. Sean and I promised it a few times in preparation for a Catholic marriage. It’s customary to baptize children as infants. I was baptized before I was a month old. Mexicans throw big parties to celebrate this with food and “bolo.” The godparents throw out coins and there’s a mad scramble to pick them up. It’s like the piñata candy melee but more people join in because who doesn’t need some quarters to do laundry or to add to the piggy bank?

Proud grandparents

My mom kept bugging me about it and I shrugged off her exhortations because we hadn’t decided on godparents. It’s not an easy decision. Being a godparent means a lot of things, but I didn’t want it just to be an honorific. I wanted Xavi’s padrino and madrina to accept the responsibility to be co-guides of Xavi’s faith journey.

So, while I was helping a group of 17 teens prepare to be fully initiated Catholics – that’s when you’ve been baptized, and done the sacraments of Reconciliation, First Holy Communion and Confirmation – I was delaying the first step of that process for my own child. Oh, irony.

When leaving LA became a reality in early May we needed to make a decision.

Baptism style

Sean and I picked Danny and Lori to be Xavi’s padrinos. Xavi asked them on Mother’s Day with little notes saying, “will you be my padrino/madrina?” Of course they said yes, and almost cried. They’re both ecstatic just being uncle and aunt to their first nephew, now they get to do a little more.

We rushed through the process of selecting a church, picking a date and taking the preparation class. We were able to get in last minute at St. John Vianney in their parent and godparent preparation class. Sean and I go to mass at SJV about once a month and it still feels like home when I see lots of familiar faces. That happened during the class too. Two of the four couples leading small groups were friends’ parents.

Last Wednesday we took the course and I was reminded why I chose Danny and Lori and what I want Xavi to learn from them.

Trío Mosqueda Campbell

I was pretty shy as a kid but Danny was the opposite. He took on the trailblazer big brother role with gusto and I was grateful for it. I joined all the activities he did up through high school. I even chose trombone because Danny played trombone. Having him there made everything easier and less daunting, even if I was mainly known as Danny’s Little Sister. My big brother’s willingness to get involved extended to church activities like altar serving, choir and youth group (yup, did all three). He also made all the church ladies love him. So, from Padrino Danny I want Xavi to be willing to get involved and share his talents. I want him to get that first born sense of responsibility of being an example to your younger sibling(s) or cousins.

Madrina Lori and Padrino Danny

Xavi has three uncles, but only one tía, Lori. I know she relishes that role. As my only sister, we have a very close relationship and complement each other. Lori has a beautiful singing voice and we harmonize quite well together. We join dad and Danny in our small family choir at funerals for friends and family. Aside from offering up her voice, she also reminds me that prayer can take many forms. On her trail runs she prays for those who cannot run and reflects on the beauty in our surrounding environment. I want Xavi to learn from his Madrina Lori that it’s important to share your voice and other talents. Also, prayer can take many forms.

Xavi gets baptized

As for the actual baptism, Xavi didn’t behave as well as he usually does in church. He was squirmy, “talked” a lot (he says ma-ma now!), sat on the floor and cried at different parts. We’ve heard kids scream “nooooo!” in the middle of being baptized, so at least it wasn’t that bad considering he was teething and we cut his nap short.

Not up for picture time

He was definitely the loudest (and oldest) of the six babies being baptized. He also had the most hair and was the only one who didn’t do the traditional baptismal gown. Do they even make those in 2T?

Proud grandparents

Adrian and Alexis

We kept the celebration small since the day before my parents had already hosted a party. My cousin Angelina threw a party with a King Taco truck and mariachi to celebrate her daughter Star’s confirmation and son David’s First Holy Communion.

Kisses for Xavi

We’re thankful Xavi so many strong examples, hopefully that shines through in Skype and FaceTime.

Use your words: Dealing with speech delay

Earlier this month I was sitting down to lunch with some people I had just met. One asked, “So, what do you do for fun?”

I waited to answer. Not only because I was in the middle of chewing, because a number of the things I do for fun, I no longer, well, do. I ran. I went to movies. I went to Dodger games and lots of concerts at awesome venues. I spend time with family.

Playground

I don’t do most of that stuff anymore because I’m engrossed in figuring out my new role, being a mom to Xavi. And yes, that is often fun.

So, I said, “Well I like spending time with my family. And I have a toddler so a lot of my ‘fun’ is playing with him.”

I was immediately asked follow-up questions.

“How old is he?”

“Twenty months.”

“Oh, that’s such a great age. The next couple of years are going to be so much fun,” said the second guy who I later learned is the father of toddler twins.

Sprinkler fun

“Is he a talker?” asked the first guy.

I paused (chewed) again.

“No. He actually doesn’t have many (well, any) words. We’re going to get him evaluated soon…”

Both told me about family members who had hearing issues or did not speak until five years of age. They assured me that everything worked itself out.

Easter Sunday

Xavi will be 21 months in a few days and his language is not where the it’s supposed to be. He doesn’t have the 5-10 words [or whatever it is, too lazy to look up something that’s going to turn up BabyCenter or WebMD — I’ve already seen those sites] considered normal for a toddler his age.

He babbles a ton. He says “dada”, but not to refer to Sean. He says “dis” (this) and points. He used to say “trash” as we would go to the diaper pail to throw out his dirty diapers. My mom and his former babysitter insisted that the “tinti” he said was actually Cindy. And he imitated me as I said his babysitter’s name. He doesn’t say mama.

When Xavi was 18 months old, we brought up our concerns with our pediatrician, Dr. H. First he asked where the concerns were coming from. Are you comparing him with other kids? Are your families or friends bringing this up? Nope. It was all me and Sean. Then he asked some basic questions and concluded that given that Xavi has hit other development milestones and has been very healthy thus far, he saw no reason to be concerned. He said Xavi was “certainly not advanced with speech development, not that there is anything wrong with that.” He’d be concerned if Xavi was 30 months old and used so few words, but at 18 months he didn’t see cause for alarm. Dr. H assuaged our worries more by offering to refer us for an evaluation at the speech and language therapy department if we chose. “Just email me and I’ll send it.”

That made me feel better.

Wedding swag

Sean and I decided to take a wait and see approach. In the mean time we read about other parents’ experiences with speech delay and speech therapy.

Six weeks passed and nothing changed. Xavi stopped repeating me when I said we were taking his diaper to the trash and going to his babysitter’s house. I started to feel like I needed to do something. What if he really needs help? I’d read about the referral process and knew that it could be a couple months before he ever saw a speech therapist.

The evening after my lunch meeting I told Sean that I asked Dr. H for a referral. Dr. H complied and within a few hours the referral was in our HMO’s system. Sean made an appointment the next day. Within two weeks we were seeing the speech language pathologist for an evaluation. The sessions with the SLP lasted about 30 minutes and she asked a series of questions regarding Xavi’s expressive and receptive language. She confirmed that he is speech delayed and qualifies for speech therapy and another early intervention preschool/daycare program.

Grandpa made Xavi a desk

The evaluation was affirming. It’s hard to think that there might be something “wrong” with Xavi or that I could have done more to help him develop speech. I know that speech delay is very normal and that there is nothing actually wrong. I know that we are lucky to have access to resources to give Xavi a little nudge.

I felt so much better after leaving our session with the SLP. Hearing that he did qualify for services was nice, but it also made me realize a few things. Xavi does know a lot of words, even if he isn’t saying “mama, agua”. During the evaluation, the SLP pointed to pictures in a book and asked Xavi, “Where is the ball? Where is the bird?” I figured Xavi knew “ball” since we frequently throw various balls around the apartment, but was surprised when he correctly identified the bird. She also gave him a two-step instruction (e.g., get the train, take it to mommy) that he partially followed. When she saw our faces look a little bummed that he stopped partly through the direction, she said, “It’s okay. This is more advanced than his age.”

Second, simply watching the SLP’s interaction with Xavi made me realize there was more I could be doing to help him learn words. Sean and I both read to him daily and point to objects when we’re at home or out on a walk. I don’t put those together and realize I should be pointing more to the objects in his books. The SLP also advised us to draw attention to our mouths as we name objects. I’m sure I’ll learn more once Xavi has first session with the speech therapist.

First cornrows

For now, I know that his expressions and actions say more than I can understand. While Xavi learns words, I need to learn to better pick up on his non-verbal cues.