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The First Time I Heard The Word

By Jaime Ramos

Hot, sweaty, and out of breath in the middle of winter I sat in a full doctor’s office lobby. Due to construction, the area we were in held patients waiting for the pediatricians as well as those waiting for gynecologists.

It was packed.

My newly two-year-old son wouldn't hold still while we waited. I chased him around the room and brought him back to his chair over and over. The waiting area wasn’t enclosed and there were stairs nearby. Not ideal.

Names were being called one by one and each time my son would loudly repeat the name the nurse had just beckoned. This was something I did not expect and something that drew all eyes. Every single time. He didn’t giggle or smile after each one. He just echoed her.

I could feel as one older woman waiting a few chairs away watched us with a glare.

I felt her thoughts and her judgment. She wanted me to look at her. She wanted me to see that she didn’t approve. Like that’s going to change me, change the situation, change him.

Finally my husband arrived to help. I was so grateful, but somewhat ashamed.

Why couldn't I manage a little toddler on my own? Why did I need my husband to take time off of work to help me? I feel like a failure and also annoyed that he was late.

As he took over I crawled around and gathered all the toys, books and snacks scattered around our chairs, each thrown to the ground as they failed to do their job of occupying him.

I get exactly two seconds to breathe when the nurse finally calls out my son's name.

I grab the paperwork that I never finished filling out in the chaos, and walk to the nurses station.

I hate the stares. The looks of pity. The looks of judgment. I’m both grateful and annoyed by the man who says “you’ve got your arms full there don't cha?” on the way “Yep” I replied with a half smile and probably flared nostrils.

My husband helped the nurse try to get my son's weight and height. I apologized as the toddler doesn’t follow any of her instructions.

Then we enter the exam room to wait.

Great. More waiting.

I quickly fill out the paperwork. I have filled out milestone paperwork at every doctor’s visit for my son since his birth.

This paper looked a little different but I didn’t think much about it, because this was a new doctor for us.

You see a doctor a lot in those first two years. Ten times barring any illness. Only at the last appointment, 18 months, did I have any concerns. His speech had stopped progressing. He barely hit the minimum word count and was often quiet, but the doctor just said; “That happens sometimes especially with boys” “I’m not concerned.” “He has great gross motor skills.”

Who am I to question a doctor? If she’s not concerned, I'm not. He’ll be fine.

I left that last appointment reassured

It’s only been six months since then but it all seems like distant worries. I'm still confident it will all come.

We hear a knock and the new doctor enters the room. After a short introduction we began to chat. Height and weight look good, she says. As she talks she begins to flip through the paperwork I just filled out. She’s tallying something up.