Single Mother’s Day

Tomorrow is my third Mother’s Day as a mother and I already know it will be my favourite. 


In the past, Mother’s Day presents I’ve received have included Chanel sunglasses, Vivienne Westwood jewellery and expensive perfume. This year I will receive a £3.99 succulent plant bought by me, for me. Because I know my babies would if they could. 

The expensive presents were purchased begrudgingly by my soon to be ex-husband. Bought out of guilt, or maybe just to throw in my face at some future point in time when he needed a way to prove to me that I was the terrible person and he was the good person. The joy of the lovely present would soon become tainted and I knew that the minute I opened it. 

The past three Mother’s Days have been tense affairs. Any celebration or ‘event’ was always a tense affair. Each and every single time, without fail, my husband would start an argument with me to ruin the day. Mother’s Day was no exception. 

I can’t remember how any of the arguments started but I remember how they all ended. With me in tears, feeling desperate, alone and like I had no way out. I would sit there as he bellowed at me for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, maybe an hour. As his voice was booming in my ears I would be fantasising about ways I could break out of the hell I was living. But at that time I wasn’t strong enough and it was just a fantasy to think I could get away. I was deep under his control. 

There was no point trying to leave, he would follow me. If I tried to defend myself I was ‘making it worse’ and if I ignored his screamed questions I was ‘disrespecting’ him. I absolutely could not win. 

The expensive presents meant nothing. Actually it was worse than that; they meant I was still under his control. They meant I would spend the day walking on eggshells waiting for his inevitable explosion into a fit of rage. They reminded me that he could control my day with his moods and arguments and I couldn’t do a thing about it. 

Until I did. Until I threw him out. Until I found the strength for myself and my children and I threw him out. 

So tomorrow there will be no expensive presents. There will be no fit of rage. Not in this house anyway. There will be no tension, no anxiety, no sense of foreboding, no crying. 

There will just be me and my boys. Loving each other and spending the day feeling happy and lucky and grateful for our succulent plant. 

Saying Nothing Says A Lot 

I get it. Talking about learning difficulties is awkward and uncool. People don’t know what to say so they just skip past it, as if I haven’t even spoken. I do get it. 

But I still get pissed off. It still pisses me off that my thoughts and feelings aren’t acknowledged. Not because I’m important and deserve to be heard, but because I’m seemingly being ignored while parents of typical children are eagerly chatting away to each other. 

Remember that scene in ‘The Beach’ (the Leo movie with the All Saints song) where a man with a manky leg is taken to the opposite side of the island to fester and die alone because his presence is ruining the enjoyment of the idyllic beach for the other non-manky legged inhabitants? Well I’m the man with the manky leg. Me talking about the struggles I have with my child with learning disabilities pricks the parenting bubble of the ‘normal’ mums and they just want to enjoy that god damn beach without me ruining it for them. 


I commented on a well know blogger/vlogger’s Instagram post the other day. It was World Book Day and she’d posted some corny shit about how children are made readers in their parents’ laps. Then some other earnest parent smugly commented ‘a child who reads is an adult who thinks’,  as if she’d imparted some massive and important pearl of wisdom. [Insert eye roll emoji here.]

My comment wasn’t bitchy or self pitying, I just wrote that my child had no interest in books due to his learning difficulties and I wished he would sit on my lap to read. I guess I was trying to make the point that it isn’t always down to the parent if the child isn’t into books. And it doesn’t mean that my child will not think as an adult because he didn’t read ‘That’s Not My Train’ as a 2 year old. 

Straight underneath my comment an online children’s store account wrote ‘reading on laps is the best!’ and then went on to try to flog the blogger a book that was conveniently stocked in their shop. They totally ignored my comment.  Insensitive. But it’s okay, they had a book to flog. 

What pissed me off though, was that this blogger then replied to the childrens store account but ignored my comment completely. Just totally ignored it. Like it wasn’t even there. And she’d seen it because it was directly above the one she was gushing over. 

If this face doesn’t say ‘pissed off’ I don’t know what does

Okay, she doesn’t have a duty to reply; okay she might have been busy; okay she might have overlooked my comment and not seen it. But I doubt it. I think it was too awkward and she didn’t know what to say. So she ignored it. It happens a lot. 

Some of my own friends ignore the issue. Just never mention it, like it isn’t happening. And if I start to talk about it they close down; don’t reply; change the subject. One even told me she wasn’t being rude, she just didn’t know what she was supposed to say and it made her feel uncomfortable. Jeez. Sorr-y. 

Other friends try to help. Send me links to articles about how one boy ‘beat his autism’ when his mum cut out gluten from his diet. Or tell me how a friend of a friend had a son who didn’t start to talk until he was 5 and now he wouldn’t shut up. Or tag me in posts on Facebook about how great dogs are for children on the spectrum. 

Some friends tell me what they think I want to hear. Try to convince me that there isn’t actually a problem, he’s ‘just a typical boy’, he will ‘grow out of it and be fine’. I actually feel for these friends because I too can be guilty of telling people what I think they want to hear. People pleasing. It’s an affliction. 

A few friends just listen. Even fewer actually ask me how my boy’s doing. How I’m doing. Ask me how I’m feeling, if I’m getting enough sleep, if I’m getting enough help. They tell me they admire my strength but if I’m not feeling strong it’s okay to lean on them. They’re there for me. They don’t have the answers but they’re there for me. These friends are few but they’re invaluable. 


If you have a friend like me I implore you to be amongst the latter group of people. Don’t profess to know how they feel, just ask them and listen. Just be there and let them know you care about them and care about what they’re going through. I never expect anyone to give me a solution but sometimes I just need to be able to talk and put my worries out there. Without fear of upsetting someone with my sadness or making them feel uncomfortable. 

And if you don’t have a friend like me but if someone happens to mention their child’s disabilities to you, for the love of God don’t ignore it. Respond to whatever they’ve said in some way. Being a special needs parent is hard enough as it is without feeling we’re being ignored. 

We’re not looking for solutions and answers, we just need to talk things through and let out our worries/fears/emotions sometimes. Or in my case with the blogger, give another perspective; speak out on behalf of those who are different. Remind people that not everyone is going down the same path with their children and we matter too. 

Will You Be Happy?

Late at night, when I’m trying to drift off to sleep, long after you and your little brother have gone to sleep, I have questions whirring around in my head. And they’re mostly about you. 

Will you understand your birthday this year? Will you tell me what you’d like for a gift? Will you say thank you when people give you presents? Will you understand how old you are? Will you learn to count to ten? Will you know the alphabet?

Will you go to the local school? Will you enjoy it? Will you make friends? Be good at sports? Will you join a football team? Have a best friend and go to his house for tea? Invite your friends over for sleepovers and eat pizza and make too much noise and stay up all night?


Will you write your name? Will you read a book? Tell a joke? Will you like music? Be a good dancer? Join a band? Go to gigs? Learn to drive? Get a car? 

Will you have a job? Move out? Live alone or maybe with a housemate?

Will you have friends? Will you meet someone special? Will you get married? Will you know what it is to be in love? Will you share your life with someone you are in love with? Will you have children?

Will you be happy? Will you be content? Will you enjoy your life? 

Will you be happy?

Above all else. 

Will you be happy?

The only question that really matters is this one and I hope and I pray that the answer is yes. 

I keep telling myself, none of the rest really matters. You just need to be happy. 

And I promise you I will do everything I can to make sure you’re happy. I will always do everything I can. 

He Said Mummy!

Yep. My boy said mummy. Today he just decided was the day and he said ‘hello mummy’ and then he kept saying mummy alllllll day. And it was beautiful. 


He’s 3 years 1 month and 24 days old. I’ve waited a loooong time to hear the word ‘mummy’ come out of his gorgeous chubby little mouth. It was worth the wait. 

When I first found out for sure that Omar had a speech delay I blogged about how worried I was that he wasn’t talking and how desperate I was to have little chats with him. It’s hard to convey to people how much a ‘speech delay’ affects almost everything. It doesn’t sound serious but in reality it is. It’s not just that Omar is a late talker, his understanding is delayed too. There have been times that I’ve despaired that he would never talk, never understand, never say mummy. And while he’s still very delayed I can see that he has made progress and he’s trying and that’s all I ask of him. 


I will confess something I’m not proud of – I’ve been scared that Zaki would say mummy before Omar. I’ve been hoping it wouldn’t happen. I can’t lie, it would hurt to see his younger brother by 2 years ‘overtake’ him. But now Omar has said it I can happily work on Zaki saying it too. 


There have been some really dark days over the past 12 months as I’ve come to terms with Omar’s problems but today has been a great day. Whatever happens, however much he talks or doesn’t talk, he’s my gorgeous, beautiful, happy boy and I wouldn’t change him for all the world. 


To any other parents going through the struggle of having a speech delayed child I promise you this – it does get better. 

The Hardest Days

The hardest days often start out normal. Even good. I was up early today, way before the kids. I had a coffee in peace, I vacuumed the living room. I got dressed and slapped on my make up ready to face the day. I felt good. 

The boys woke up and had breakfast, played for a bit and then I washed and dressed them and we left the house. We walked in the warm, comforting sunshine with our holiday tans looking lovely against our summer clothes. 

As we approached Omar’s pre school he started to quietly say ‘no no no’. As it dawned on him that he was definitely going inside the no’s became louder until they were full on screams. Then he threw himself on the floor and wouldn’t move as tears streamed down his face. The other mums who had already dropped their little darlings off were having to step over him as he blocked the gate with his tantrum. They gave me the look. You know the one. Half pity, half she-can’t-cope-with-her-brat-of-a-child. 

Omar doesn’t usually do this when I drop him off at pre school and he’s never tantrummed this badly before. He loves pre school, he usually skips straight in. Maybe it’s because we’d just spent an entire week together in the sunshine doing fun things, or maybe he just didn’t fancy pre school today, who knows. I don’t know because he can’t tell me. Because he can’t talk. 

Maybe Omar had post holiday blues. Can’t really blame him.

Anyway, with the help of his key worker I got him through the door. He was clinging onto me. I’d been carrying him on my hip and I totally let go but he clung on for dear life. His key worker prized him off me and assured me I could go and he would be ok. That she would call me in half an hour to let me know he was ok. I didn’t really want to go but I had to. I had his portage worker coming to the house at 9.30 to hand over a report on him following a 3 week assessment she had done. 

So the day had turned a bit shitty but it was salvageable. Omar would settle down and he’d have a good day. He loved pre school and he’d be ok after a few minutes. It was ok.

The portage worker arrived and handed me the assessment folder and her report. 18-24 months. That’s the only bit I saw. My boy, my 3 year old boy has the language skills of a child half his age. My heart broke. Again. It wasn’t a total surprise to me, his speech therapist had told us he is operating around a year behind his actual age. But it’s never any easier to be told again. My heart doesn’t ache any less each time. 

As I was trying to read through the report, holding back tears, my phone rang. The pre school. Omar hadn’t settled, he was still screaming. I could hear him in the background. He’d bitten his lip during his tantrum and it was bleeding. I told them I’d be there as soon as I could and rushed through the questionnaire the portage worker needed me to fill in. I was about to leave to collect distraught Omar when I got another call. He was ok now, he’d calmed down. Leave him there. 

Well that was something at least. 

I sat down again with the portage assessment to read it properly. All I could see were the things he couldn’t do. Things that most 2 year olds can do. Things like ask for a drink, tell me what he’d like to eat, ask to use the potty, make the sounds for different animals. Things that would make his life (and mine) so much easier. 


Some days I focus on the positives. I try to do that most days. He is happy, he is physically healthy, he is safe, secure and loved. And he knows it. It’s much easier to get through the day when I focus on the positives. 

But today, as I was handed in black and white a list of things my child is severely delayed with and unable to do, was not one of those days. 

Today I was overwhelmed with feelings of helplessness because I can’t fix this; sadness because I can’t bear the fact that he will struggle in life and fear because I don’t know what his future holds. 

These are the hardest days.  

Holidaying Abroad With Tots

Although I might be speaking too soon I think this holiday is going quite well. It’s exceeding my expectations anyway, although admittedly, my expectations were that the whole week would be a stressful nightmare. Happily, that is not the case!

I’m in Mallorca with Omar (3), Zaki (11 months) and my mum (she doesn’t want you knowing her age, sorry). We opted for a 4* all inclusive package holiday. I know, I know. It’s a soulless choice and I’m a slave to the capitalist machine. Really sorry for not chucking both my kids in a sling and backpacking around the Far East but quite frankly after the hellish last 12 months I’ve had I needed an easy option and this holiday, so far, has been pretty easy. 

The living room in our spacious apartment. Omar is mesmerised by Scooby Doo in German.
We’re staying in an apartment, so we have facilities to make Zaki’s bottles and a cuppa when we need one, but I don’t have to cook because we’re all inclusive, win! The restaurant is a buffet style one so I can always find something the kids will eat and there’s loads and loads of fruit for dessert, so I don’t feel too bad when they turn their nose up at all the veg I heap onto their plates and have chips. 

The occassional bowl of ice cream is obviously a holiday essential.


We’ve spent most of our days around the pool and both boys LOVE it in the kid
paddling pool. Obviously I have to supervise them in there but it’s no hardship. I actually like being in there, it stops me from melting from the heat.

I bought Zaki a baby swim support seat and I’d definitely recommend one, it was about €8 and would be worth every cent if it was triple that. 


Omar loves wearing a swimming ring and arm bands for some reason (weird kid) but he doesn’t actually need them in the little pool, I don’t think there’s much cope for drowning in a metre of water. 

We went to the beach for a day but to be honest, I can’t stand getting sand everywhere and Omar wasn’t keen on the sea, so as lovely as it was, I don’t think we’ll go back. 

There are lots of potential days out we could have; Alcudia Old Town and Porta Pollensa look beautiful, but this holiday is all about the kids and they just wouldn’t appreciate a day of walking around looking at ruins or eating in upmarket fish restaurants at the marina, so pool days work just fine for us.  

Out for an evening stroll and its still boiling at 7pm.

In the evening we sometimes go for a walk after dinner or have a coffee in the hotel bar but often it’s just bath and bed for the kids and then me and mum read or watch a bit of TV before we go to sleep. There is hotel entertainment on each night but Omar and Zaki are always too tired to stay awake for the cheesy tribute acts and magicians, which is no skin off my nose.

Overall I think we’re all having a great time, just being in the sunshine makes people feel better, don’t you think? If you’re considering going abroad for a sunny holiday with young kids, do it! It’s not as difficult or stressful as you might think, the kids will love it and if nothing else, at least you get to feel the sun on your skin and a break from the washing up. Win. 


If you’ve been on a successful package holiday to somewhere sunny please let me know where in the comments. I’m already thinking about where we’ll go next year. I quite fancy Turkey. 

My Child’s Age Ain’t Nuthin’ But A Number

‘Two. He’s only two.’ Was my reply to the mother who loudly asked ‘how old is he?!’ with disbelief in her voice when I told her that I didn’t need the toilet cubicle thank you, because I was waiting to change my child’s nappy on the changing table.

It’s wasn’t a lie, he was two. But he was a week off his 3rd birthday.  I omitted that information when the mother exclaimed that he was extremely tall for his age. (He is tall for his age anyway, as it goes. He wears 4-5 year clothes, mostly.)

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So anyway. My son has just turned 3 but in terms of some aspects of development he is more like 2. The main delay is with speech and language; he’s not yet talking and he doesn’t understand as much as he should. And so he’s not yet toilet trained because we just can’t communicate with each other enough for him to grasp the concept. I’ve tried 3 times but he just isn’t ready.

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I’ve gotten over the grief of finding out my boy has learning disabilities and now I plough my energy into trying to help him and encourage him wherever I can. So it really pisses me off that I still cringe when strangers ask me how old he is. I shouldn’t care. I should just give them the honest answer without feeling the need to justify his behaviour/silence/nappy to them. But I don’t. I don’t want them to judge him as a child or me as a mother.

The difficulty is, if I say ‘oh he’s just turned 3 but has learning disabilities so is actually more like just turned 2’ the poor strangers don’t know where to put themselves. And if I just tell them his age with no explanation of his delays they assume he’s a brat and I’m a rubbish mother. It’s a tough one.

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Now he is actually 3 I know I’m going to find it even harder. When he was 2 (or ‘only 2′ as I always found myself saying) there were some 2 year olds that were at the same stage as him developmentally. Albeit they had just turned 2 and he was almost 3. But 2’s 2. Now he’s 3 people expect so much more from him.

At the doctors surgery yesterday I was struggling to keep him sat next to me, gripping onto him for dear life if I’m honest. Two old ladies told me to just let him have a wander. ‘Oh I can’t’, I told them. ‘He’d be out of those doors and into the carpark.’ They looked at him. ‘You won’t will you? Tell mummy you’re a big boy and you’ll be good.’ They meant well but they had no idea. If I’d have been able to tell them he was ‘only 2′ their expectations would have lowered instantly.

My son’s age really doesn’t matter. If I tell people he’s 2 they won’t question his behaviour and abilities, although they’ll probably have him pegged as a giant. They’ll tell me he’s going through the ‘terrible two’s’ with a sympathetic look on their faces and assure me that he’ll grow out of it soon. But I refuse to lie. His age in terms of the how many years it’s been since he was born means nothing to him, or to me really. I’m more concerned with the age his brain is operating at. 

He’s 3. My boy is 3. And it ain’t nuthin’ but a number.

It’s Been A Long Time, I Shouldn’t Have Left You…

… I sincerely hope you had a dope beat to step to. (If you don’t get it, never mind.)

Hello! I’ve been gone for too long, I know. I lost the will to blog to be honest. Lots has happened and I’ve been busy and stressed and feeling like I should be doing more productive things with my time rather than writing my self-indulgent little blog. But I do love my self indulgent little blog, so here’s a quick update on my life:

What I’ve Been Doing

DIY! Of sorts. I finally finished Zaki’s bedroom and I love it! I’m pretty proud because I did it all myself, from the painting to hanging the wallpaper, to putting up the shelves. No doubt I’ll go off it within a year but for now it’s my fave room in the house.

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What I’ve Been Buying

Too much stuff for my kids, that’s what! We go on holiday to Spain next month and my kids have about 6 outfits for each day we’re there. I, however, will be wearing the same ASOS dress I bought in 2014 day in, day out if I don’t get my act together soon. Always the way. Anyway, one of the best things I’ve bought is this t shirt for Omar. I love it!

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What I’ve been watching

Peaky Blinders, Peaky Blinders, Peaky Blinders. I am OBSESSED.

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I am totally obsessed. In true me fashion. And that means I now know all there is to know about Cillian Murphy, who is just so bloody beautiful. Heart eyes for days I tell you! Anyway, I came late to the party and recently discovered Peaky  Blinders on NetFlix. It was so bingeable it didn’t take me long to catch up and I watched the season 3 finale on Thursday night with every other sane person in Britain. Ahhh Thomas Shelby, how I love thee.

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If you haven’t seen Peaky Blinders you NEED to. I’m serious, stop what you’re doing and go and watch it right now. I never watch stuff people enthusiastically tell me I need to watch (probably part of my insulant nature) but don’t be like me. This is the best thing I’ve seen in years, you’ll love it!

Omar Update

He turned 3! My boy is 3 whole years old. I can’t get my head around it. We didn’t have a party this year because quite frankly he didn’t really get involved at his last two so I avoided the stress. I had planned on having a mini tea party but illness struck our house and it had to be postponed. I will still do that for him but with no pressure on him to play party games that he has no desire to play. We had some lovely days out to celebrate anyway. We went to a huge farm and Omar loved the outdoor play areas but the cows made him boke. To be fair, they did whiff a bit haha. 

 

He is still progressing with his words and communication, just very slowly. He says about 30-40 words now but still not mama! When will he say mama?! I really can’t wait for that day.

Zaki Update

Zaki is still doing well but he’s had a sickness bug that stuck around for ages and caused him to lose 4lbs so I’m trying to fatten him up again now. He has a cardiac check up tomorrow, keeping everything crossed that his echo scan shows all is ok. Zaki will be 1 next month, which is ridiculous quite frankly! He was only born 5 minutes ago. He cruises the furniture really well now and can manoeuvre himself off the sofa. He’s desperate to be able to walk and chase after Omar but his little legs aren’t quite strong enough yet. 

So that’s about it really. Or more accurately that’s all I really want to share on my blog. Sorry if you’ve found this post a bit dull, I felt I needed to kind of catch the regular readers up (if there even are any!) and thought this would be a quick way of doing that.

Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy 

Once again I need to start by apologising for neglecting my poor little blog. Life has been quite hectic and I just haven’t found the time but I’m back now. 

So, since my last post on Omar, (Finding Out Your Child Has Learning Disabilities) which was about a month ago, there have been some developments. The main one being: we have some more words!!! For such a long time he would only say  two words (oh no and ball) but over the past 4 or so weeks this has increased to 20 words! (Not that I’m counting or anything.) His receptive language (understanding) also seems to have improved a lot and he generally just seems to be engaging more. The little toad still hasn’t said mama though, I’m so desperate for that word to come!

  
I’m not sure whether these steps forward he has taken can be put down to the brilliant speech therapist we have started to see; an online video program we started called Gemiini; or whether it was just time for him to start talking more. But I’m just so glad he’s moving in the right direction and we’re going to keep doing what we’ve been doing and hope it continues. 

With each new word he says I get ridiculously excited and it lifts me for the whole day. The first new word he said spontaneously was cat. We were walking down the street and he pointed to a cat and said ‘cat’. I wasn’t quite sure I’d heard it right and didn’t dare believe it. But then later that day he also said cake and balloon. I was so overjoyed but didn’t dare revel in it too much in case it was a fluke and he’d be stuck on those words for months and months and months, the same way he was with ‘oh no’ and ‘ball’.

But his words continued to increase and I’m so proud of him. I make him work hard with the tasks the speech therapist has given us but we make it fun too and so far so good. 

  
He also had an appointment with a paediatrician a few weeks ago. She was great and spent over an hour with us. She saw Omar in action; he was in a whirlwind mood and kept filling toy pans up in the doctor’s hand washing basin and then trying to soak her with them (I know it shouldn’t have been funny but it so was). He also managed to hit her on the head twice with a ball, clapping and cheering afterwards both times (which leads me to believe her head was the target). Anyway, she didn’t really tell me anything I didn’t already know in terms of his development. He is delayed. We knew that. But she did say ‘he doesn’t have autism’. She actually said it like that. Not that she doesn’t think/believe/suspect he has autism. Just that he hasn’t got it. I don’t know whether she’s able to know that just from one hour with him; I thought a team of people would need to be involved to make that kind of decision. But anyway, that particular paediatrician doesn’t think Omar’s on the spectrum and neither does his speech therapist. Honestly, I don’t think he is either. I’m not ruling it out though. Just in case. His behaviour definitely isn’t typical but it doesn’t seem to fit with autism either. I’m stumped to be honest. 

 

First day of his new pre school
 
Omar has started at a new pre school recently too and the staff there are so supportive. He’s only been 6 times so far but I’ve got high hopes about the place. I’m especially hoping they can help with his challenging behaviour. They seem firmer with him than his last nursery and are working on boundaries, which can only be a good thing because he has no concept of them at the moment. 

So at 2 years 10 months Omar says 20 words spontaneously and copies around another 5. I know this is waaaay behind typical kids his age but he is talking and at one point I genuinely feared that he never would. His 25 words bring me joy. 

On the way home from pre school, when he points to a tree and says ‘tree’ I’m so so thrilled. I’m ecstatic! I’m walking on air! Until behind us, I hear a child younger than him taking in full sentences, telling their parents what they did that day. 

Then it hits me again how delayed Omar is and the grief comes creeping back in. 

So I have to block all other children out at the moment. Because comparison is the thief of joy and I won’t let anything steal this joy. For now, other children are irrelevant. Even yours. Sorry. I will still be pleased for you when they reach a milestone or make you proud. I will like your Facebook posts and leave kind comments on your Instagram photos. And I’m not being fake, I am genuinely celebrating that achievement with you. But I’m ignoring the age of your child and I’m oblivious to their stage of development. It’s the only way at the moment. I need to preserve my joy. 

I hope you understand. 

Finding Out Your Child Has Learning Disabilities

Things keep happening to me that only happen to other people. I’ve already blogged about my second baby being born with a congenital heart defect and having open heart surgery when he was 2 days old. That happened in July last year. When the doctor first told me, hours after Zaki had been born, I thought to myself ‘this can’t be happening because I’ve read about this sort of thing but it only happens to other people‘. Well it did happen and we got through it. But I’ll admit that I got through it by the skin of my teeth and almost lost the plot more than once.

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I took Zaki home and genuinely believed that once we were all settled my little family would be in for an easy ride for a while. At least a little while. If not forever. I mean, after something as terrifying and traumatic as that how could the universe possibly heap any more shit on us?

Unfortunately we didn’t qualify for the easy ride and more shit was on its way.

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Within days of being home I started to realise things weren’t quite right with my oldest boy, who was 2 years 1 month old when Zaki was born. I wrote about some of my my concerns that he still wasn’t talking here. Well, he’s now 2 years 9 months and still not talking. He still hasn’t said mama or mummy…

If you read my blog regularly you’ll have realised I’ve been quiet lately. Not just here but on social media too. I’ve been trying to come to terms with the fact that my gorgeous boy, the kid that changed my life and taught me what true love really is, has learning disabilities.

Now I’m coming to terms with it, and I fully understand what it means, it’s actually not as scary as it sounds. But at first I was an absolute wreck. It was all I thought about and I spent every waking moment obsessing about it and what it meant. I cried and cried and cried. Then I cried a bit more. Mostly because I was scared. I had no idea what the future would hold for my sweet, precious, gorgeous, innocent boy. Well I still don’t. And I’m still scared and I still cry. But much, much less now.

He hasn’t had an official diagnosis yet but I’ve had enough dealings with doctors to recognise the warning shots that we’ve been given from them. And I’m switched on enough to realise that he definitely has learning disabilities.

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It all started to become clear when a paediatrician carried out a hearing test on Omar about 3 weeks ago. This was after 12 sessions of speech and language therapy hadn’t really had much effect. The paediatrician told me that Omar was delayed not only with speech and language but also with social and emotional development. That set me off on a crusade of Internet research, which although can be hit and miss, I have to say, did prepare me for what was to come. I read that a delay in 2 areas or more means Gloval Development Delay (GDD). And GDD means learning disability. I still hadn’t really accepted it though. But deep deep down, I knew.

I found an amazing group on Facebook, of parents dealing with similar situations and through that group I found a lovely, supportive beacon of light in the form of another blogger. She prepared me for the emotions I was about to go through. She gave me hope and positivity too. She has been nothing short of amazing. Even though we’ve only messaged online and I haven’t actually met her, I feel like I’ve known her for years. She’s called Janine and she’s great, check out her blog here – Unhinged Mummy.

I finally, properly, fully came to terms with reality a few days ago when a private speech pathologist told us that Omar is severely delayed and is operating at a level at least a year younger than his actual age. She predicts that he will talk but not for around another year. Although obviously she can’t guarantee it. I took comfort in that though and I’m praying she’s right.

She used the terms ‘learning disabilities’ and ‘special needs’ and it was hard to digest but once it had been spoken out loud by a professional there was no going back. It was out there and I had to take a deep breath and do what needed to be done to help my boy.

These years are so so important, if gains are to be made, they will mostly be made before a child is 5. I keep hearing that early intervention is the key. He needs as much support as possible as soon as possible. Great! Let’s put it in place. If only it were that easy…

Everything takes so long and services have been ruthlessly cut, meaning there just aren’t enough resources to go round. I’m already fighting and battling to get my son the help he needs and I’m only a few weeks into what it going to be a really long, hard journey. It’s actually so cruel, the way this Tory government is slashing funding for services. Services for the most vulnerable in society. It actually disgusts me, actually physically disgusts me. Anyway, I digress…

 

So back to how it feels when you find out your child has a learning disability. Grief. That’s the overwhelming feeling. Nobody has died but there is a sense of loss. Loss of the child you thought you were going to raise. That’s not to say I love my baby any less, or wish he was someone else. Of course I don’t. I wouldn’t change him for the world and that’s the truth. But I am so,so sad that his life won’t be as easy as I thought it would be. He will have to work so much harder to achieve every milestone and it just all seems so unfair.

Aside from the grief, I also feel a huge amount of pressure to do everything I can to help Omar to develop and also get him the professional support that he needs. I’ve already hounded his health visitor and early years co-ordinater. I’ve contacted pretty much every nursery and pre school in the area and been to look round a few, trying to figure out where he will get the best help. I’ve spoken to professionals who should only really get involved after a diagnosis, just by being pushy and pressing for help. I can almost hear their eyes rolling when they answer the phone and it’s me again, the pushy mum in the early stages of accepting her child has learning disabilities. But I don’t care. I’ll gladly be a pushy, embarrassing mum if it helps my boy.

It’s a lonely situation to be in at first. It feels like everyone else is going in one direction with their kids and I’m going in another direction with mine, to a place unknown. But slowly I have started to realise that Omar is still Omar. Nothing has actually changed, it’s just that now I’m more aware and now I know for sure he’s different to most other kids.

Maybe harder times are yet to come. We don’t yet know the cause of his delays or how much progress he’ll be able to make. Maybe I’ll be a wreck again once he has an official diagnosis, or if his speech doesn’t progress. But for now I’m trying to take each day as it comes and see the positives.

So here we are. One boy with learning disabilities and one boy with a congenital heart defect. It’s not the life I thought we’d have but it’s the only one we’ve got so we’ll live it together and just as before, I’ll be doing everything I can to make sure it’s a happy one for my beautiful boys.

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