I feel sick to my stomach, and I have felt this way since last night. Yesterday, I finally broke down and bought Addie another car seat, complete with five point harness and all, to keep her contained in the car. Needless to say, she hated it in the store and hated it even more once I wrestled her into it. I was already feeling so drained, as I always do when I have to handle Addie like this, but then we came home to no hot water. I called my landlord, tried to troubleshoot it myself, and then she and her son-in-law came over to tinker with my water heater for about an hour. As they are doing this, Addie is undressing and tearing all the clothes out of her drawers, Lorelei will not stop singing no matter what I threaten her with, and Anya, who ingested more candy than Halloween in her two hours at a Girl Scout event, proceeded to throw up both in and outside the toilet. Luckily, they were able to fix the water, Anya felt much better after her sickness, and the girls went to bed. I stayed up to finish homework, catch up with my mom, and to lay awake nervous for today.
What was today? We went in this morning to have an initial evaluation of Addie. After months of desperation, crying, anger, frustration, and overall pain for everyone, we were finally going to get some advice or help from someone else, someone more qualified than I. I laid awake wondering what would happen, if Addie would even cooperate, and if I would get good news or bad news. We went to the appointment this morning, bright and early. Addie behaved better than she usually does with me, but even then, she still showed her naughty side and her lack of focus on anything. I have suspected that her speech is delayed, which was confirmed today. The clinic would like to do a hearing screening as well as get her set up with a speech pathologist. After my own tears and some time trying to work with her, the specialist recommended a full evaluation and then more from there, depending on how it goes. It is a long process, especially with a young child, but I am glad we are having it done.
What was hard was the feeling I got while there. I felt so inadequate, although I know that was not the intent of the specialist or of the appointment. This woman was trying to engage with Addie, much like I do, but to no avail. She was able to get Addie to give toys back to Lorelei and to get her to stop from being mean to Lorelei, all things I fail at constantly. I felt like she was disappointed that I cannot stop it, even as I explained that I am exhausted and have tried so hard and in so many ways to work with my child. It is one thing to suspect certain difficulties about your child; it is another to have them confirmed. I feel like it is my fault – am I not doing enough with her? Have I not engaged her enough, taught her enough, encouraged her enough, disciplined her enough? I felt horrible, ashamed, and as I said, just plain inadequate.
Words like “special needs” and “behavioral delays” were given, and it scares me. There is nothing wrong with a child who has special needs, and I have worked with and loved children who are in need of extra attention and accommodation. I also know how challenging it is for the child and for the parents, and I am fearful. I know I should not worry yet – we have not had the full evaluation yet, and I could be getting extremely worked up. I am a mother though, and the thing we do best is worry about our children. Fortunately, if Addie needs special help, there are so many resources here. The specialist talked about a speech therapist, behavioral therapy, and even a special needs preschool catered for kids her age. I am lucky to have the resources and without having to work too hard to get them, if Addie should need them.
Beyond my own feelings and worries, I just want to help Addie. Andy and I love her very much, but we also are struggling with what to do and how best to raise her. We are also at the end of our rope (and our sanity) and could use the help. Perhaps getting her help will also help this entire family. Even as I tell myself these optimistic things, I still cannot shake the pit in my stomach. We asked for an appointment, and today we took the first of many steps to learning more about Addie and how best to aid her. There is a light at the end of the tunnel – it is a flicker right now, but I’m positive that it will get brighter.