Everything’s Okay in Ian’s World
Ian is twenty-seven months old. According to Ian, everything these days is “Okay!” In his vernacular, this can mean everything from “Please forgive me for dropping your soda on the carpet ON PURPOSE, Mommy,” to finding Bear after an extensive and harrowing pre-bed search throughout the house, at the conclusion of which Bear is found lounging in the dirty clothes hamper. After each of these Mommy-mindbending experiences, as Ian enthusiastically yells, “Okay!” I begin to understand that Ian was sent to show me, the queen of the OCD scene, that everything is indeed “Okay!”
Ian is a miracle. A fortieth birthday surprise to me, a woman told in her mid-thirties that scar tissue would likely preclude the possibility of ever having children, Ian was so eager to begin his journey through this world that he showed up three months early. When those mysterious gas pains the day after Thanksgiving began arriving ten minutes apart, I knew I was in trouble. When three days later Ian debuted at an astonishingly tiny two pounds, five ounces, I knew I was in for a wild ride. When he came finally came home from the neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU) after seven weeks and returned to pediatric surgery three weeks later for triple hernias, I wondered when I was going to be allowed to pull off at a rest stop.
As it turned out, those were just on-ramps; the tollbooths loomed ahead. The first time he slept seven hours straight, I wanted to take him to the emergency room. When he moved from his bassinet in our room to his own crib, I slept with the volume of his monitor turned full blast and got up to check on him three times a night. The first time I slept through the night I woke in a horrified panic and tripped over dust modules in my haste to get his room to reassure myself that he was fine. He was.
When we got Ian from NICU, we were lucky enough to take home what I termed a “wireless model,” meaning he was breathing fine on his own and his heart and pulse rates were strong. Many parents leave NICU with a heart monitor or oxygen machine for their preemie, and these issues can bring on terrifying complications for them. Ian came home with neither, and once over his surgery began to thrive.
It was time I returned to work full time; my husband stayed home. Although Ian’s weight gain and development were progressing well, we were warned not to become complacent about his health. Because Ian was born so underdeveloped, the risks of complications in the first eighteen months were exponentially higher for him than for a full-term baby. Day care, and the possibility of Ian’s resultant introduction to a miasma of illnesses, was out of the question.
Over the ensuing months, we were thrust into the normal world of babydom and an unbelievably tight budget. Ian was growing into a strong, healthy little peanut. He ate. He played. But he did not talk. Nor, by his first birthday, did he walk.
Because of his low birth weight, Ian automatically qualified for special services. He was walking by eighteen months, but he was not talking and his fine motor skills were unsteady. Afraid that I was overreacting, I decided to have him fully tested without an automatic waiver for services, and sure enough he tested into speech and occupational therapy services. I was not overreacting. He was delayed. By how much would remain to be seen.
That was nine months ago. Today we took him to a favorite restaurant. He talked a blue streak to every single person he saw. He took off through the tables running so fast a passerby actually had to catch him for me. During after-dinner playtime, he stubbornly informed me “red on blue, not on red!” when I tried to arrange his balls by their color-coordinated slots. Ian, apparently, had a more artistic arrangement in mind. And Mommy, apparently, still has some OCD issues to jettison.
Nonetheless, as Ian tapped his plastic hammer on each of the balls in its slot and said, “Okay, push!” and then, as the ball descended its see-through tunnel, “Okay, down!” I though to myself, “Yes, Ian. Okay.”
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