24 years old and I'm supposed to know what to do? There isn't a handbook for this. There's no parenting class that prepares you for the reality of Early Intervention Services. (And I had NEVER heard of that before. Sure, there was a therapist that was coming to the house to help Riley before all this came into the picture - but it never occurred to me that there was a name for it.) And as wonderful as the military is - there isn't a specialist on staff anywhere that can help navigate through the path that was coming at me like a freight train.
Somehow through all the panic running through my head, I found the number to a woman that would become my saving grace. She was our "Family Resources Coordinator" for the county that we lived in. April truly became a lifesaver for me. I had met her when we originally moved to Washington State back in July of 2004. Before Maggie was born and before any of the "delays" became a reality. She had originally set us up with the in home therapist that signed a spot light on all of the girls delays. I hadn't talked with her since we set up the in home services for Riley. And when everything was going on with my pregnancy with Ella, it didn't occur to me that April might have been able to help. But I was so wrong!
After I called her, she came out to the house and set up evaluations for all of the girls to have. April was wonderful. She had a way of being very direct with the areas of concern without it coming across as though anything was "wrong". She gave me lots of websites to look at and made things seem manageable. And everytime she came, it felt like a friend was coming to visit. If something came up that I didn't know what to do with, she had the answer without it seeming as though I had missed the obvious. When things started to come into focus a bit, April broke the news to me that the situations with the girls may not be temporary. I didn't know what to do with that. April did.
She called the girls pediatrician and sent over all the records and test results. When the doctor called, for some reason, it just came crashing down. The doctor said that I needed to bring the girls to the army hospital to see the developmental pediatrician. I don't know why, because at the time I had no clue what a developmental peditrican was - but I was terrified. It all felt so official and out of my hands. I felt like I had no say in what was going to happen to my kids. I don't know if it was because it was suddenly "military" and not civilian. April didn't work with the military healthcare system. She worked for the county. April couldn't do anything for us when we were seeing the military providers. Of course she could still come to the house and help me navigate the homecare visits that the girls had - but she couldn't make the military doctors do anything or change anything.
I didn't understand why this suddenly went from my happy "April visits" where things were manageable - to the military world. The military world wasn't as friendly. It wasn't as kind and gentle. It was much harsher and black and white. There wasn't room for any indecision or questioning. I understood that we were at a point where the girls needed more than home care visits and developmental assessments. They needed more medical testing and possibly more than that. They needed more intervention than April could provide. It felt like my only ally in this was being taken away. April was the first "friend" I had made when we moved from North Carolina to Washington. She was the only person that I could talk to about the fears and worries I had for the girls. I did have other "friends" in my life that were there for me and that I knew loved the girls, but I didn't know how to talk to anyone but April about it all.
A few days after the appointments with Developmental Pediatrics were scheduled, I was thrown in to an entire new version of hell known as "paperwork". I truly believe that the amount of paperwork that is involved with developmental delays in children is meant as a diversion so that parents don't have the time to ask questions. With all 3 of the girls requiring mountains of paperwork, I think I need to take partial responsibility for the destruction of the rainforests. After roughly 8 hours of paperwork, records requests and releases and 6 weeks of waiting - I pushed a 2 seater stroller with Riley and Maggie in it, Ella in a baby sling and a diaper bag that was probably big enough to fit all 3 girls in it with room to spare into the developmental pediatric clinic.