Watching and Waiting

James didn’t come into this world screaming; he came into it blue, breathless and almost lifeless following a complete placental abruption. Five days later we found out that his little brain had been spared damage from the loss of oxygen, but that the MRI showed multiple ischemic infarctions — strokes — from the abruption. The largest was in the left parietal lobe and we were warned he could have difficulties using his right hand, could walk with a limp, could have language or learning disabilities, and could develop seizures.

Knowing all of this was both a blessing and a curse, as we watched him obsessively to see which odds he would beat and what other surprises might be lurking. When James was 4 months old, we stopped watching and started therapy: PT, osteopathy, massage, early intervention. It was still too early to know what it all meant, but we were seeing those red flags they warned us of: holding his hand in a fist, mixed tone, not reaching against gravity with the right hand, turning his head more to one side.

We have been extremely fortunate that by the time was a a little over a year, all of those warning signs had disappeared. Now, at 21 months, James is on track for gross and fine motor skills. But the journey is not over. For several months we’ve been back to watching obsessively, waiting for James to start talking. At almost 20 months we learned he did indeed have a delay in expressive language and now we move on to speech therapy, again unsure what the future holds. Will he catch up quickly? Slowly? At all? In the meantime, we know two things for sure: 1) the brain is capable of amazing things, and 2) so is James.

Written by James’ mom.