In retrospect, it is so clear that even as infants my children were not developing typical early communication milestones. The first smiles and laughs were not on schedule. We never really had cooing at all. Babbling was both very late and extremely reduced. This is for both children, not just Ava. In fact, all of those delays were even more extreme and exaggerated for Michael than for Ava.
Now Michael's speech started to kick in around the age of 15 months. It was odd. His first consonants were ones like /k/. He was using clicks in place of consonant sounds which was even more strange. I was so very worried.
In fact, I can remember having a conversation the night of Ava's birth with a fellow SLP about how concerned I was about Michael's speech. He was 15 and 1/2 months old that night. I know that it sounds strange that I just happened to be talking to a SLP on the night of my daughter's birth. However, that SLP was a close friend and former coworker who also happened to be a doula. She was my doula and with me for the birth of both of my children and so it was natural for us to be discussing Michael. She was there for his birth and she was a fellow SLP.
At 15 months all Michael had was a couple of vowels, a /k/, and a lot of clicks. However, by 24 months he was talking in 5 word sentences, had an age appropriate sound repertoire, and was intelligible enough that his speech was constantly commented on positively by strangers. It was such a relief. Over the course of those nine months, the worry I had carried in my heart for the first year and a half of his life faded and I was so grateful to let it go.
That history of Michael's delay followed by a remarkable recovery to above average was a huge part of why I delayed so long before acknowledging that Ava's speech was delayed. Then we fast-forward to the present day.
Now, at the age of 4, it is apparent that Michael does have some speech errors that are going to need intervention. He has a distorted interdental production of /s/, /f/, /v/, and /th/ that results in all of those sounds being produced in an identical fashion that is visually distracting and impacts his intelligibility on words that include those sounds. And so I worry.
I spend a lot of time worrying about speech. I worry about Ava's speech. I worry about Michael's speech. But sometimes, a speech error is completely normal - even adorable. Michael is completely convinced that one of his favorite foods is "grabioli" rather than "ravioli". I smile a little every time I hear him say that because it is such a normal speech error. I smile, and gently correct him. It is nice to occasionally engage in a correction that is without stress or subtext. Because sometimes it really is just normal.