It’s been almost a month now. Almost a month since I broke up with Jarvis’s physiotherapist.
I rang a few days before our scheduled appointment and said we had been sick and wouldn’t be able to make it. That I’d ring later in the week to make a new appointment. I gave all this information to the answering machine. The answering machine I knew would be manning the phones before they opened at 8.30am. Yes, as far as breakups go, it was right up there with the most cowardly.
I hung up on the machine and I felt my shoulders relax. I wasn’t going to be making that next appointment.
Getting to the point of breakup took a number of appointments. We started to see the physio after our GP referred J after his 18 month check up. Although he had just started walking, the doc thought his progress in that area was a bit on the slow side and he might need some exercises.
Quietly crestfallen, I followed the advice and made the appointment. I was just happy he was finally walking and kind of resented going to see yet another specialist. I naively hoped the physio would see him in action and admit that although his development was on the slow side, that he was getting there and here are a few exercises to help him along.
However, at that first appointment she seemed perplexed at his lack of ability to do some movements. She asked me questions about his milestones and noted his inability to lift his bum when lying on the floor.
‘Does he help you when you change his nappy?’ she enquired. I said no and she revealed that the ‘lift the bum’ reaction is something most babies do at 11 months. I internally wonder why I was never privy to this information before.
She notes he still walks with his toes curled, gripping the earth. Another no-no – a reflex ordinarily gone before twelve months. I look on helplessly as my boy, happy playing with newly discovered toys, is encouraged into positions that are foreign to him. Into a box he doesn’t fit.
She lists out ten exercises we are to do daily. If we stick to it we should see improvement. Come back in a month.
A month goes by, and although we attempt all the exercises I admit I am not doing them all daily. He is walking better though and is now ‘helping me’ at nappy change time by lifting his bottom.
At the next appointment, I am quietly ashamed I didn’t work harder at the exercises – some my boy just refuses to do. I should have persevered, tried harder. My internal beat up continues as the physio tries to get J to hold a squat, while he wiggles and struggles.
‘See, it isn’t that easy,’ I think to myself. Another appointment, another new set of exercises to add to the last.
My stress levels start to rise. I cry in the car on the way home, torn between doing my all to help my son and loving him and enjoying him just the way he is. Weak core strength and all.
I am forced to admit it’s not just the physio, it’s the more than 18 months of specialist visits. Of waiting rooms, of my boy being poked and prodded, of me being worried beyond all worry. All the time. And I’d had a enough.
It was time to end this. My internal dialogue battled the decision for awhile though – told me what a selfish and lazy mother I was. That I was doing this for myself and ignoring the needs of my son.
But finally I laid all the guilt aside. I have the exercises, I can still encourage him to improve, just without the monthly dose of inadequacy.
So, I made the cowardly phonecall to that answering machine. And my boy and I haven’t looked back.
He is still improving, still gripping the earth with those toes, but when I see him squatting by himself engrossed in driving a car along the carpet I know that he is going to be okay.
And I’m improving too, learning to always trust my instincts and the knowledge that noone knows this little boy better than his parents.
Have you got any specialist breakup stories to share? When has doing less meant doing more for your family?