So, Ava arrived about 15 and a half months after her brother. My pregnancy with her was also completely normal and full term. Her birth was also natural and uncomplicated. My mother, who was in the delivery room, said that she felt that Ava spent a little more time than normal before getting her shoulders out. I pay attention to this only because my mom was a practicing ob/gyn nurse 30 years or so ago. However, when I mentioned that to my ob later, he said that he thought everything was fine. She was a healthy 8 lb, 12 oz. baby. She also had severe newborn jaundice which was treated well and cleared up in under a week. She wasn’t an easy baby, but she was easier than her brother. She had reflux for which she was medicated for the first year of her life or so, but that’s the only medical history of note. She was more interactive. She made some vocalizations. I don’t remember what exactly, but I remember that it was “more than Michael did at her age, and look how he turned out – she’s fine.” She didn’t have any of the unusual staring at lights or fascination with screws type behaviors. Her eye contact and turn taking were more appropriate as well. I was just so relieved to not have a repeat of Michael’s first 15 months that I didn’t really take her red flags seriously enough. Because in retrospect, they were there. If you remove the lens of “this is better than Michael, so it’s all going to be ok”, there was plenty to be concerned about on her own merit.
Yes, she had more vocalizations than Michael, but they weren’t enough, at the right age, or of the right types. She had a few vowels, but almost no consonants. No sense of vocal play. No reduplicated syllables. She didn’t imitate at all. Even though I’m a speech-pathologist, I’ve never raised a baby with typical speech development. Therefore, I didn’t really appreciate how behind her babbling was. She had a few “words” at her 18 month pediatrician visit. We thought she had an approximation for Michael and one for kitty. I don’t remember the rest. They pretty much all disappeared. By the time I called First Steps at 21 months of age the only words she used regularly were “yeah”, “da” (that), and “mo” (more). We’d also occasionally hear “uh oh” and “ha” (hot).
At the 18 month pediatrician visit, she seemed to be trying, and I was still entrenched in the she’s almost where Michael was at this age and he turned out fine mentality. Three months later she had lost what little she had and the lack of progress at a time when she should have been starting to talk more and more triggered enough concern that I couldn’t keep my head in the sand any more. And I started to make phone calls.
If it hadn’t been for our experience with Michael, I’m pretty sure I would have had Ava evaluated months earlier. So be it. We all do the best we can.