The Vocal Point

The SLP Mom

This blog is personal for me and not typically something I’d speak about. I figured I’d share this because I’m pretty sure I’m not the only mom (specifically SLP mom) who has mom guilt regarding having a child with a speech delay.

My oldest son was born on the cusp of 37 weeks because I had pre-clampsia and gestational hypertension. My labor was induced and I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. Fortunately enough, his weight was fine and he did not require a NICU stay. As a first time mom, sometimes it’s hard to tease out ALL the advice you are receiving and sometimes I feel I might’ve missed some things with my new baby. My son had a very hard time latching and I was unable to breastfeed him. He also struggled with certain bottle nips and required faster flow rate nipples and I think it’s because he was small. My Speech Pathologist lens went out the window and I was only on mom mode when I saw my son struggling to feed. Because he was gaining weight, his doctor was not concerned.

My son is a simultaneous bilingual and is pretty much equally exposed to English and Spanish. As an SLP, I know the importance of reading and modeling language to babies and made it a point to read with my son everyday. I also know the benefits of Bilingualism along with preserving our culture. I modeled language for him and narrated our days. I also started exposing him to sign language, which he picked up very quickly. I was pretty confident I was doing all the right things to promote his language.

During one of his doctor’s appointments, his pediatrician asked me how many words was my son saying. I instantly panicked because I realized he did not have enough words for his age in either language (including ASL). The pediatrician told me not to panic but how could I not? As an SLP I knew exactly what was happening and couldn’t sit back and wait. With help from my very good friend, I was able to get my son evaluated through Early Intervention. The Speech Pathologist that evaluated him endorsed what I was already thinking-my son has an expressive language delay. I immediately felt overwhelmed with guilt. When did it start and how did I miss it? Was there something more I could’ve been doing to promote his language? Does this mean his brother will have the same thing? My brain was flooded with questions and I teared up as the SLP went on to tell me what she was noticing with my son. I told her as an SLP myself, this was hard pill to swallow. But she made me realized there is nothing wrong with my son and nothing that I did nothing wrong either. She expressed how important it was to get him evaluated early and get him the help he needs NOW!

To all my parents out there, SLPs or not, I want to tell you- go with YOUR gut! This is literally the most cliche saying in the book but the most accurate. As a first time mom, I’ve learned a lot of things on my own (through trial and error) and when my husband and I felt like something was a little off with our son, we knew it was time to get help despite what other medical professionals were saying. Whether your baby has a speech delay, a physical delay or any other diagnosis, your baby is special in their own way. Embrace their differences and enjoy the journey-even if it wasn’t the original one you planned.

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