The Speech Therapist Who Saved My Life

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speech therapistIt was December 2015. Our family moved from Florida to Grand Rapids, Michigan in the Spring. In mid-November, I gave birth to my second son, right before Thanksgiving and our first true snowfall. On this particular morning, he was rocking away in his swing—that was the only way he napped, and while I was perhaps forming bad habits, I was allowing my sanity to take precedence. My oldest son recently turned two, and we were waiting for his brand-new speech therapist to arrive.

A couple of months before, our new pediatrician referred us for a speech evaluation. Our son had a huge vocabulary and plenty to say, but most of his consonants sounded like vague, generic “h” sounds. As his mom, who spent every day at his side, I always understood him—but I was the only one. I’ll never forget that evaluation because when he was supposed to identify a picture and say “car,” he said, “sedan,” …but it sounded like “huh-ban.” There was such a massive gap between his articulation and everything he wanted to communicate to the world. 

When 10 a.m. rolled around, I opened the front door to a woman with freckled cheeks and a warm presence. When she spoke, her smile lit up her whole face. Ian took to her so quickly, but how could you not? She looked over at my newborn in the swing and said, “Oh my gosh, you’re really in it. Well, whatever you need to do while I’m here!” Her name was Miss Megan, and I think she saved my life.

It was a hard season. We had moved away from all our friends and family, and we were facing our first midwestern winter. My husband was working extremely long days, and I was floundering as I tried to care for a spicy two-year-old and a newborn. I missed my previous job and my community. I didn’t know it then, but postpartum depression was sinking in. And in the middle of all that hard—the mundane, repetitious slog that early motherhood can become—I began to thoroughly look forward to those weekly speech therapy sessions.

During that time, I knew I would get a break from being the primary caregiver for my toddler. I knew I had a compassionate, knowledgeable expert on my team. I knew someone was coming over with fresh toys, fresh ideas, and a desire to see my kid thrive. More than once, I sat on the living room floor while Ian and Megan worked through an activity, and I would mostly cringe as I saw how badly I needed to vacuum. But Megan always put me at ease. I knew that within those 45 minutes, I’d probably finish a hot cup of coffee and I’d probably smile and laugh. At 10 a.m. on a weekday morning, with two children two and under, that was no small feat. 

Eventually, Ian aged out of in-home services, and we transitioned to walking over to the neighborhood elementary school for speech. But lo and behold, one day, Megan and I showed up for the same Moms Demand Action meeting. We became Facebook friends, and eventually, I joined a book club she was starting. (See? My instincts about her being a good person were correct.) Eventually, we moved away and our connection is limited to social media, but I’m grateful for the time our paths crossed.

 

When I think about my kids and speech therapy, I have nothing but warm and fuzzy feelings. In this first decade of parenting, all three of my kids have been supported by the most amazing group of speech therapists who were (and are!) compassionate and competent: Miss Megan, Mrs. Whitehouse, Miss Lindsay, Mrs. Gooder, and Ms. Brown. 

I’m grateful for all these women, but I have a special place in my heart for Megan. She started us off on our speech therapy journey, and she gave me a lifeline when I was drowning as a young mom. Her weekly visits were a bright spot when every day felt the same. I know that in-home child specialists don’t have an easy job and that they often walk into home environments or family circumstances that are less than ideal. But I hope they know how deeply needed and valued they are. While I know she was there for my son, somehow, I felt so deeply cared for. Megan’s weekly presence in our lives brought me company when I was lonely, fun when I was bored, and expertise when I needed it. Maybe I’m being dramatic, but I look back so fondly on that season. 

When I was drowning as a young mom, she was the speech therapist who saved my life.

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