The Force is Strong in This One

So, we went to the hospital last week to see Harry’s Paediatrician. Either our much-HFF-respected Dr was having an off-day… or I need to extract my head from where it has got stuck up my bum. I’m still not sure which.

I told him that Harry had dropped off the height centile chart, and he cast an appraising glance at how high Hubby and I came up the wall. Hubby is a squarely-built 5ft 7. I am an even squarer 5ft 4. Paediatrician is 6ft 3 minimum, so I knew already that diminutive stature wasn’t a problem he was going to immediately empathise with. He told me that Harry looks absolutely fine, and that I should get him measured properly at clinic where they will stretch him out properly (that sounds bad, however I think it), rather than measure him at home. I told him that a Health Visitor had firstly wanted to measure him standing (which loses several cm somehow… but where?!) and then managed to measure his wriggling form at 2cm shorter than our most pessimistic home attempt – but it didn’t slow him down. Harry is officially fine apparently, teeny-tiny 4ft-11-aspirational cousin or not. He did nod when I told him I was aware that some IUGR children experience permanent growth restriction, but nevertheless his overall take was “I’m surprised you’ve brought it up”.

Oh. OK. Lets talk about his feeding issues then. Cue waffle from me about feeding strikes and tongue ulcers. Brisk enquiries regarding Harry’s recent average intake. Gentle prodding of the slightly-bulging Harry-tum. (Squeee! I love chub on little people!) Yep. He’s fine. Next question.

Ok. Umm. Fluster fluster. What the hell else is wrong with the child? Think. Oh yes! Toe-walking! Up until a month ago (since when, admittedly, the problem has diminished hugely) Harry was persistently turned-inward-tippy-toe-walking, and he’s never been left in a bouncer. I told him this, and said that taken in conjunction with the fits/brain damage scare when Harry was born, I had been quite concerned about… and I gulped… perhaps… a mild touch of cerebral palsy?

Now, Harry’s paediatrician is a enormous towering black dude (not too many of those in Warwickshire) with an engaging smile (sadly, ditto) and a cool accent that took John and I a little while last year to tune into properly. His body language is quite unlike that of any western Europeans I have seen, but distinctly African and hence fairly unfamiliar to me. (I used to sell things to people. I’m afraid I look for stuff like that automatically now.) But whaddaya know! Eyebrows climbing into your hairline, and shaking your head whilst exclaiming NoNoNoNoNO! as your chair wheelspins backwards is a reaction that knows no borderlines.

Seems he doesn’t think Harry has cerebral palsy. I am apparently worrying too much. Fair enough. Then, just as I was attempting to re-adjust my ideas and draw the threadbare tatters of my maternal credibility around me, my dear, darling spouse felt the need to make his first verbal contribution. It came bursting out, Tourette’s-fashion.

“She looks on the internet!”

Great. Just… great.

Comprehension visibly dawned in Towering Paediatrican Dude’s eyes. (Delivered mildly didactic one-wayer on having too much information and letting it worry you.) I sank into my chair, a mixture of complete mortification and inarticulate fury at Hubby’s blatant betrayal.

TPD never even saw Harry walk, but impressed upon me gravely that Harry is really only 14 months old. He is doing, apparently, Very Well. Thou Shalt Not Compare Thy Child To Other Children! Wobbliness is Allowed. I nodded meekly, and whilst TPD scribbled in his notes (‘Paranoid mother with internet connection. Disregard her every word in future’) murmured with ever-decreasing-vocal-volume something about it being difficult to forget about someone telling you your child might have suffered brain damage, mutter mutter, and taken all in all with the wobbliness and the fact that he’s not talking yet, I thought I’d just mention

Incisively through my sussuration of embarrassed self-justification: “He hasn’t spoken yet? No clear words?”

“Um, not really. Friends have told us twice they’ve discerned words, but we’ve not picked up a thing.’

He enquired about possible hearing difficulties, but Harry can hear a packet of Wotsits being opened (don’t hate me) three counties away: no messing. I explained that if I hear John’s car and ask “Where’s Daddy?”, then Harry will toddle off to look expectantly at the back door – and I heard him muttering ‘follows instructions…’ to himself whilst his pen went zooming across the page. And when the zooming ceased, Harry had scored himself a big fat referral to Speech and Language.

I only really mentioned the speech thing inadvertently, as Harry is a conversational baby who is highly fluent in gibberish – and both Hubby and I were late talkers. I did ask John in mild frustration yesterday: when the hell will Harry think the time is right to actually, you know, bloody well say something – and he replied that Harry appears to think that he is talking just fine, thanks very much, and if we can’t understand him, that’s our problem. A rigid pointy arm and slow-motion graspy-fist sign, coupled with an intent stare (with optional insistent/indignant shriek) tends to work wonders for all the things he can’t reach – although, when the object in question is verboten, it does leave him looking rather like a very tiny Jedi master who is having problems using the Force. 

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(Yeah. right, so there should be a comparison photo here of Harry in order to illustrate, you know, the Funny. But it’s gone 1 in the morning, the main PC with the photos on is turned off, the camera memory cards are in the car outside, and I can’t be arsed. Trust me, they look hauntingly similar.)

So, after all that, the only problem I didn’t highlight is the only one TPD thinks is worth focussing on.  Go me!

Apparently TPD didn’t hear Harry’s VSD– but he didn’t seem to remember about its existence, either, until I asked him about it at the end. It’s a quiet VSD and he only had a quickish listen, compared with previous episodes of lengthy minutes of listening (before summoning the ubiquitous medical student to have a go, without mentioning any heart issues first. After an initial blunder, we have learnt not to give that particular game away.) so I can’t really reassure myself yet that it’s really gone. That would be too good a thing for me to believe in without some harder proof.

Anyhoo, I am looking forward to our copy of the clinic report letter to our GP. It should be an absolute doozy this time around.

My fingers are beginning to drop off: I’ll make it quick for any loyal soul still with me. Hubby had Harry for the entire day. First time ever. He coped. Hurrah!

Today I spent £258 on gym membership, despite being broke. I have registered Harry at the creche – rather a dismal, lightless room, but it has fun stuff in and the staff seem nice enough. It will be his first time alone, ever, with someone who is not a parent, grandparent, or medical professional. I suspect he’ll be fine – and I will only be 50 yards away – but I am still a little fluttery about leaving him for those virgin 90 minutes.

 I have a week to work myself up nicely about it.

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