Searching For Words…

Shortly after Willow was born… one of the NICU doctors shared a story about his uncle who has Down syndrome. For 54 years the man barely spoke. When he did… it wasn’t more than 2 words at a time. Then one day… his siblings… who were also his caretakers… joked that maybe all he needed was a good cup of coffee. So they gave him one. Wouldn’t you know… they were right! A simple cup of joe was all it took for him to find his voice. From that day forward… the doctor’s uncle could not be silenced… unless you took his coffee away. Do you know how many times I replay that conversation in my head?

I drink between 2-3 cups of coffee a day. Not only does it give me the energy I need to keep up with my 3 kiddos… I’ve talked myself into believing that it’s somehow stimulating Willow’s brain.  I drink coffee… she drinks my milk… Voila! To think… my coffee consumption could somehow get her to talk sooner and more often. Isn’t that crazy????? Don’t answer. I know it’s nuts. But that’s how my mind works. I am willing to do ANYTHING to help my kids succeed in life. And right now… Willow’s silence weighs heavy on my heart.

Almost everyone who meets Willow comments on her quiet nature. It’s true… she’s laid back.. and often silent. While I love that part of her… it’s also a bit concerning. Anyone who knows my family knows we have the gift of gab. We like to talk. Correction… love to talk. It kills me to think Willow might struggle to keep up. I visualize these words trapped in her head with no way to get out. How do I release them? How??

Ok… I know she’s only 7 1/2 months old… but it’s something I need to think about. Willow has had a speech therapist working with her since she was 2 weeks old. 2 weeks!!! Obviously there is a reason for that. A few weeks ago Willow’s Early Intervention Team brought up the idea of teaching Willow some sign language. While Willow can be VERY vocal at times… her sounds are just that… sounds. She’s not doing the typical “da da da” or “ga ga ga.” I know every baby develops at a different rate… but since my baby has Down syndrome things are different. We know Willow will eventually learn to talk… but we’re not sure when “eventually” is. And when “eventually” comes… we’re not sure how well those words will come out. Remember that vision of words trapped in Willow’s head?

So… I’ve started teaching Willow some signs. I’m starting simple. Hungry… all done… mommy… daddy… According to her Early Intervention Team…. these signs will hopefully make it easier for Willow to communicate. They’ll allow her to release the words trapped in her head… to express herself when her mouth fails her. God… I wish they could do the same for me. I’m struggling to find the words to explain how this whole thing makes me feel. Scared? Sad? I don’t think those are the right words. I told my husband last night that this whole sign language thing almost feels like I’m giving in. Like I’ve given up on the dream that Willow might talk “on schedule.” I’m told that I’m doing what’s best for Willow… but I don’t feel like it. Isn’t God able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine? I’m asking that Willow not need these signs! I’m begging. I want her to be like my other kids. You know.. the ones who started saying words a few weeks after I had plunked down the money for a Baby Einstein video teaching sign language. That dvd is upstairs… in my closet… collecting dust. I never used it. I suppose I’ll have to dig it out now….

I’m not sure how to end this post. I feel like the whole thing is just a bunch of random thoughts and words. How fitting eh? Maybe I’ll end with a prayer…

Dear God… please help me to be the best mommy for Willow… the best mommy for Laken… the best mommy for Bella… Please help me to put aside my hopes… my dreams… my plans… and follow yours… always trusting You. Thank you for your Son… who died on this very Friday so many many years ago. Because without his death and resurrection… my selfish thoughts and desires would be the death of me. Thank you for loving me… for loving my kids… for loving my husband… Thank you. In Jesus’ name.

Happy Easter!
Happy Easter!

4 thoughts on “Searching For Words…

  1. You, I believe are doing the right thing for Willow with sign language. Who’s to say that signing is a lesser form of communication? It’s harder to learn sign language than it is to learn speech, so in my opinion, when you use sign language, you are taxing your brain more making you wiser. I could tell Willow was a wise young child.

  2. Willow has needs to communicate; and she also needs to relate to the world. Sign language will provide her the best tool now to know and be known. Speech will come. In the meantime she can interact with the world.

  3. My grandchildren (ages 6yr & 9yr) learned simple sign language before they learned to talk. My mother (their great grandmother) gave the baby signing books as a gift. The idea was that babies are happier when they can communicate their wants & needs. Verbal skills take longer to develop. It really worked well for them. They both are talkers now. I hope it works for you as well.

    Of course, you are the parents. You need to decide what is best for Willow.

  4. If you ever have speech questions, I can try to help. I’m not as savvy with my child knowledge since I’ve worked exclusively with adults, but 2 of my very early kiddos on my practicum had Down’s. I also just did Beckman Oral Motor training (not a therapy for language), & they use it a lot for Down’s.

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