Time For Backup!

IMG_5316

Today I want to share something with you that many families might not feel comfortable sharing or want to put out there publicly, but I feel that it is important to share for many different reasons.

I know that I've told you in the past about Big Sister and her larger-than-life personality and spirit.

Big sister has always been that busy, persistent, intense kiddo. Even when she was a baby it always felt like she'd go from 0 to 60, happy to a wreck, in just a few seconds. As an infant, I joked that she gave me 3.5 seconds to “whip it out" before she started wailing as if she was starving. She always made her needs known VERY loudly. She absolutely downright refused to take a bottle no matter what we tried. We could never figure out if it was simply something that she just didn't want or if drinking from a bottle was hard for her. Thank the Lord, breast-feeding was not difficult for her at all. She wanted to be held constantly. She has always been very, very attached to Daddy O and I. Leaving her at a friend’s house (and our day care for several years) was always a challenge, because it took her a very long time before she would go there without crying, even though by that point she was very familiar with the friend. This has made taking time away for Daddy O and I very difficult.

When Sister Roo came along, Big Sister was 22 months. That was a huge challenge. She didn't understand that she couldn't go pick her up and she was VERY quick. She didn't understand that she couldn't throw something at her. She didn't understand why all of a sudden I didn't have as much time or energy to devote to her explaining things and helping her work through challenges. To top that off it was right during harvest, so even though Daddy O wanted to be present, he couldn't.

As Big Sister began to talk she did so at the right time with the right amount of words etc. but as those words and sentences became longer we began to struggle with understanding her. Daddy O would say "she sounds like she has a lisp almost" and Grandparents had great difficulty understanding her over the phone. There were times that we had to ask her to repeat things over and over before we could figure out what she was saying. Thankfully she was willing to repeat things until we got what she was saying, but I knew there would come a time where she wouldn't want to have to repeat herself to be understood and her frustration would increase. I didn't want that for her.

Sleep has been always an issue. I can remember, when she was 6 months old, standing over her bed trying to help her calm down enough to sleep and repeating over and over "close your eyes, take a deep breath, and relax your muscles". I knew that at six months old, she didn't know what any of that meant. But I knew in my gut that she would need to have those skills to be able to fall asleep, when she was older. I knew that the repetitive statements stated in a calm manner would be something that she could cling to as a consistent part of her nightly routine. We used that strategy for a very long time. Even now, at 4, the nights that she does sleep through the night are rare and cause for celebration! We have tried essential oils, taking her back to bed and helping her go back to sleep, white noise, different types or music, and vibration. Some things helped for a while and then lost their effectiveness. Other things we still use in the hopes to create consistency and security for her.

Big Sister has always been a kiddo that thrived with consistency and a schedule. We’ve implemented strategies such as using a visual schedule, sticker charts, and language like "first you eat two more bites then you can have a cookie".

Our busiest farming time, usually between seeding and harvest, has always been the most challenging time for Big Sister. There have been melt downs that felt like they lasted a lifetime, anxiety over leaving the house, more difficulty with sleep, and obsessing over preferred toys/animals/etc. to name a few.  I've always thought that it was the inconsistency of our schedule, not having Daddy O around as much, and not knowing a clear schedule for when daddy will be present versus working. That's the nature of the farming beast. It's our life. It's not going to change. But that doesn't mean that we can't take steps to help our daughter handle the challenges that our lifestyle creates.

Because of my training as a Pediatric Occupational Therapist, we’ve done pretty well getting through the rough patches and “maintaining”. But this fall, we finally crossed over the line of “we’re maintaining” to “we have exceeded Momma’s area of expertise and we need help and support”. Time for backup!

When you get to the point of requesting help, you’d be surprised the programs and opportunities that are out there!

Big Sister is over 3 years old and so according to the law, the school is required to provide “stand alone” services, such as Speech Therapy for children that meet the criteria or need for them. So, we saw the Speech Therapist from our little local school and Big Sister does qualify. Turns out, she has a significant “tongue thrust”, which is where her tongue wants to push or come forward all the time, which impacts that intelligibility of her speech. Also, come to find out that I have an Uncle that had the same thing as a child and he speaks very well now! The Speech Therapist will work with Big Sister and I, practicing sounds and will send “homework” home so that we can continue working on this at home too! What a relief!

Big Sister is under 6 years old, so she can be seen and supported by Early Intervention services, as required by Montana State Law. I have a friend who is an Early Intervention Specialist and so she was able to come out, visit with us and determine that Big Sister qualified for that as well. She won’t qualify for long, but just long enough for us to receive some support and assistance in trying different strategies that might help her adapt to times of change as it comes. Huge relief.

Last but not least, our Family Doctor listened to all my concerns and validated that I wasn’t over thinking it all, wasn’t “a bad mom”, and had understandable concerns. As a parent it is so easy to go to the place of “maybe it was something I did or didn’t do”, when in fact the struggles a child might face are simply the way they came “wired”. Our doctor will be working with us on future referrals if necessary, helping Big Sister get better sleep, and finding the best strategies to help her deal with times away from us and times of change. We need to continue to provide her with strategies and support just like we’ve been doing all along. She’s the same awesome kiddo with support as she was before. Now, we have the supports we need to help her flourish! Humongous relief!

When it comes to our kiddos, its hard to admit when we need help. Its easy to feel guilty, like we haven't done enough or didn't try hard enough. I think those feelings show that you are a good caring parent, but shouldn't keep you from seeking support!

Where do you start? Who do you talk to?

The first place to start might simply be sharing your struggles with a trusted fellow parent! Someone you can bounce ideas off of and go to simply for emotional support.

The next person to contact is your child's doctor. They often are familiar with all the different resources available to families in their area and will be able to help determine if your struggles and/or concerns are age appropriate for your child or not.

Another important resource is to contact the program in your area that provides Early Intervention services. They can provide a wealth of knowledge and resources.

Have you had a time as a parent where you needed support? Do you have a spirited child too? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

As always, please feel free to share this post if it has touched your heart!

Love to you and yours,

Elizabeth

If you'd like to read the follow up post to this one, click here!