This morning when I told KayTar we were heading to the doctor and she was instantly excited to see our pediatrician, babbling on about things she was going to tell her, but when I explained we were seeing her eye doctor her demeanor changed. She said, "But I don't WANT the eye drops. I don't like to lay on you and have drops in my eyes. Makes me feel SAD. No eye doctor. No drops!" Initially, I was struck by her memory. Although it has only been 3 months since her last appointment, I have never been able to accurately gauge how much she remembers because communicating those memories are a very, very new skill for her. Then, as her words washed over me, I realized that not only had she communicated a detailed memory, she had expressed her displeasure, fear, and sadness. I couldn't immediately do anything about it, because I wasn't sure what our exam would entail, but once we arrived I was able to talk to the nurse and reassure her that there would be no drops today. I was able to fix it for her, to banish her fears with just a handful of common words.
I think about the months and months of poking and prodding and testing and sobbing and fighting and fears, the silent painful merry-go-round we spent our days on for so long, and I wonder what it would have been like if she had this skill then...if she could have told us that the adhesive was making her skin burn, or that she liked to be held a certain way when having a blood draw, or that laying down to have her height taken made her feel like she was going to be strapped down and needled again. We muddled through those days somehow, but I wonder how much easier it would have been for her if she hadn't been locked away with her fears, muted with worry and wordlessly pleading for help. I remember her screams, all the screams, and I wonder what she would have said, what she was trying to tell me. It is easy to assume that if a infant or child can't communicate, tears and wailing simply signifies displeasure, and it does...but the possibilities within the realm of displeasure are vast and varied, how are you to guess which possibility it might be? How do you choose the right words to fight a fear you can't understand? I'd stroke her hair and tell her it would be over soon, tell her I was sorry, so sorry that she had to do this again and again, but I don't know if she could understand me or even recognize the emotion in my voice, if those words meant anything once they passed my lips. We muddled through it, she and I, neither of us truly able to understand the other, but I'm so relieved that today we are finally, finally, speaking the same language.