Aside from the fact that she was larger at birth, IJ has always been the runt. She’s smaller than her sister and slower to reach milestones. Although I’m anxious to see her start moving more like Honor, I love the extra cuddles she gives while her sister is off exploring. Over the last few weeks, though, we’ve become concerned with Isaiah Jane’s eyes. They’re starting to cross more instead and more, even sticking for several seconds at a time on occasion. Her right eye is significantly worse than her left. She also bobs her head up and down slowly while looking at people, as if she’s trying to focus.
On Friday night, I returned home from work to a girl who couldn’t go two minutes without her sweet eyes crossing. I decided to call a pediatric opthalmologist first thing Monday morning. We already have a call out to the Early Intervention people (more on that later), but I figured we should start with an eye doctor. Thankfully, they had an appointment open Monday afternoon. Over the weekend, her eyes seemed to be getting worse by the hour.
When the time came, my mom came over to hold down the fort. Chris cut out of a meeting early to join me at the doctor’s office. He wore her in the Ergo most of the time. People kept smiling at the bundle on his chest, with little feet sticking out. This was the first time the girls have ever been separated. We felt this silly obligation to tell everyone, “She’s missing her other half…she’s a twin!”
There were several bright lights, a few eye drops, and a couple of long waits. She did an amazing job. She nursed a little bit, talked a little bit, and whimpered a little bit while she snuggled against my chest.
The prognosis? Both good and bad. Her eyesight is close to normal, meaning she’s not a candidate for glasses…yet. Her eye-crossing is intermittent instead of constant, meaning she’s not a candidate for surgery…yet. We were instructed to patch her good eye for her an hour each day and follow up in two months. She hinted that Isaiah Jane is probably going to be diagnosed with strabismus down the road. I also got the impression that if she’s going to need either of the two above-mentioned interventions, that there’s not much we can do to stop it.
This was discouraging to me, because I felt like I was being told to watch my daughter deteriorate and just keep an eye on her (pun absolutely intended). I know this isn’t life-threatening, and that there are families out there struggling with a lot worse. But I also know if you don’t use it, you lose it. It’s what I tell my patients every day. She will most likely lose her vision in one eye if things don’t improve. But because they’re not bad enough yet, I’m just supposed to wait?
We’ve got a few more consults to check off the list before I take a deep breath. Isaiah Jane performed her head bob very nicely for the opthalmologist, but I got a different reaction than I anticipated. She stopped talking and just stared at IJ, calling it “interesting” over and over. She said that it did not appear to be in any way related to Isaiah Jane’s eyes, and asked if we’d been referred to a neurologist. I said that we had not, but don’t you know I made an appointment with one on the way home. She’ll see someone this week. I guess it’s good to rule out the scary stuff first, and work backwards from there.
I’ve also recently been introduced to the idea of Vision Therapy. A friend talked me through her journey with her sweet daughter, and she gave me a few contacts in the area (I’m full of eye puns today). One of the local developmental optometrists offers free screenings on kids under 12 months, so I’m going to start there. Vision Therapy is very very very expensive and not covered by insurance, but we’ll see what the doctor recommends. I agree that interventions like surgery should be a last resort, and I’m interested to hear about the program.
Lastly, I’ve been toying with the idea of Early Intervention. Thanks to a lot of you, I’ve discovered the program and its benefits in the last few months. I’m not too keen on hearing about all of the delays my kids have, based on charts and statistics. I am, however, absolutely open to the idea of a free assessment and another opinion. I’m not going to put my head in the sand. I know my daughter should be showing greater muscle control and efforts with mobility than she is right now. I placed a call last week, and I expect hear from an intake specialist any day now.
In the meantime, we will do the patching and the praying and the waiting and the snuggling. They only had boy patches at the eye doctor’s, so IJ is rocking some sweet trains and bugs and who knows what else. She’s only fussed with it one time. For the most part, she seems to not even notice.
I’ve felt the worry creeping up for months now, and the other night I finally let it out and had a good cry. As a parent, I want the best for my children. As a parent, I feel the weight of the possibility that my kids’ lives may not turn out the way I anticipated. As a mother, that weight seems to take on the form of guilt.
There I was in the nursery, blubbering on about all the what-ifs. What if I had pushed harder with the PA last time we were there for a well visit? What if I’d seen a doctor instead of a PA? What if Isaiah Jane gets sick from all of these upcoming consults and appointments, after I’ve been trying to keep her healthy all winter? What if she has to fight for things her whole life, things the rest of us take for granted? All of those nagging thoughts that occasionally pop into my head seemed to just come pouring out of my mouth. It wasn’t just about IJ’s eyes. I ran down the list of all of the things that seem to be “wrong” with all of my kids.
And then my knight in shining armor stepped in. He grabbed my face, kissed it (probably to shut me up), and spoke truth to my heart. Our children are perfect, he told me. They were created exactly as they were supposed to be. If there is an eye issue or a size issue or any other issue – then it’s there for a reason. We will work through it. Our children are perfect. And that’s that.