of babies, books and balls


I do believe that Kajsa’s finally conquered her
bilabials. What, you might ask is a
bilabial? Well, labia means lip and bi
means two. So bilabial, broken down,
simply means two lipped. And no, I’m not
talking about last month’s inguinal hernia surgery. Although that’s healing well, thanks for

No, what I am, in my usual round about way, getting to is
that Kajsa is now on her way to a more normal way of speaking.

You see, up until now, Kajsa has had a very difficult time
with m, b, and p sounds. Even v’s and
f’s sometimes foul her up. You’re
probably thinking that this is a strange sort of speech impediment. Most children have trouble with s sounds or
possible r’s, but p, m and b? How

Well, I’m glad you asked…

You see, when Kajsa was 6 months old, we went over to a
friend’s house for the big Christmas party. There were tons of babies, kids and, of course, friends of ours – who
were just dying to hold and kiss all over the baby. In my naiveté, I let them. I mean isn’t Christmas for sharing love?

Kajsa woke up a couple of days later
grunting. Believe me; you never want to
hear your infant grunting. We took her
to the pediatrician’s office where we were seen for a few minutes by his
primary nurse, Meaghan. She brought in
the pulse oxometer and her eyes began to grow larger. Meaghan left. Doctor Oriel bustled in with Meaghan in tow. “Kajsa’s blood oxygen level is
extremely low. We have called an
ambulance and are transferring her to MaryBridge
(Children’s Hospital) right away. Which
of you will be riding with her?”

I never could have guessed during that ride how much time I
would spend getting over this one. Upon
arrival in the ambulance bay, we were quickly shuffled into the Emergency room
so that the team could attend to her. I vaguely
remember the paramedic telling them that I was “an excellent historian”, before
it all got really blurry.

At one point a
wonderful nurse, Kelly, was standing right next to my shoulder as I held
Kajsa’s hand. She was calmly murmuring
everything that was going on. I will
never in my entire life forget this woman. Her presence made all the difference in the world to me at that
moment. After a few moments, she told me
that they were going to need for me to step out for a minute while they intubated
Kajsa, and did I know what that meant. “Yes, I watch E.R.”

So I was sitting there outside the little curtained room
with my Styrofoam cup of cold water when Chris arrived. I brought him up to speed and we both hoped
that she’d be O.K. to fly the next day. Um, in hind sight I now know that no one who’s intubated has an ice
cubes chance of flying the next day.

She wouldn’t be ready that week. She wouldn’t be ready that month. We spent two and a half weeks in the
Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), followed by several weeks in and out of
the hospital itself as Kajsa recovered from Parainfluenza,
pneumonia, a collapsed right lung and then a lovely (and persistent) case of
hospital acquired Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).

Oh, did I go on another tangent? Well phooey.

Anyway, during all of this lovely hospital, unconscious, tubes hanging
from everywhere time; Kajsa was supposed to be picking up on some fundamental
vocalizations…namely, the bilabials. This is the stage where you generally hear a baby babbling to herself
for most of the day. “Bababababbababababaabaaththp! Eeeeeeeeee!!!” Ironically, babies often say mama for the
first time around now. It might not mean
anything to baby, but it means the world to that mom. (Oh, don’t feel bad, she now screams it at
the top of her lungs repeatedly throughout the day.)

The funny thing, I’ve since learned, about speech
development is this. If you miss a step,
you don’t pick up where you left off. You simply skip it. End of
story. So Kajsa went on to pursue more
complicated oral acrobatics. She has
noteworthy N’s, terrific T’s, and her S’s are simply sublime. But frustratingly the bilabials were
noticeably missing.

Until now. It is
almost as though a window has opened and her brain looked out saying, “Now why
wasn’t that there before?” Kajsa’s young
mind is now frolicking through a field of consonants…creating lovely sound
bouquets, in the form of words.

The formerly indecipherable gaw, has now transformed itself
to ball. Gook now sounds remarkably like
book. And we were even pleased to hear a
plaintive wail of “MINE!” yesterday. Shocked and wary, but pleased.

As Kajsa continues to recover from many of the early insults
of her life, she repeatedly leaves me in a state of awe. Awe over her ability to adapt, grow and learn
– Awe over life’s innate determination in the face of disease, trauma, and all
other assaults. I truly believe that we
are on this earth to learn lessons. I’m
beginning to think that mine may simply be humility, as time and time again, I
find myself small, wondering and hopeful.



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