by Megan C. Jones, Mecklenburg CDSA Service Coordinator
Yep, you read the title correctly. But before you think about it too much, let me give you some background inspiration.
I’m the proud first-time parent of a beautiful, incredibly sassy, and bright little 2-year-old girl. It was the perfect pregnancy–no complications outside of not being able to get French fries and salt and vinegar chips at random times of the day and night. Every ultrasound yielded a better picture of who she would look like and whose mannerisms she would inherit. We were super excited to meet her, and when she was born, she seemed to be excited to meet us because she opened her eyes almost immediately. She has amazed us every step of the way; meeting every milestone, some a lot sooner than expected. Come on, are you really surprised I was keeping a tab on EVERY SINGLE ONE?
Fast forward a few months before her 2nd birthday, my husband and I found out we were expecting again! With our fingers and toes crossed, we hoped for a little boy and at our 18 week appointment we got what we had hoped for. I cried of course, and my husband was excited as well. The ultrasound technician did her usual procedure to look at all of his organs and body parts but wasn’t able to see everything because he was positioned in an odd way. We were told he was being stubborn (not a surprise!) and that they would try again in a couple of weeks to see everything they needed. Nothing to worry about, right?
Fast forward again over the course of several months, countless squeezes of cold and warm ultrasound gel on my belly, trillions of questions by additional ultrasound technicians, a genetic counselor, and physicians, we had to come to accept a possible truth about this little guy we have yet to meet: a diagnosis of “unilateral renal agenesis”. It’s a lot of words to mean he has one kidney. The other has not been detectable since that 18-week ultrasound appointment; based on the ultrasounds, no blood flow is detected to go to the side where the left kidney should be. We’ve been told there is a possibility that it could be hanging down somewhere in his pelvis (ouch!) and that we will know for sure once he is actually here and he gets an ultrasound. So yes, my fellow early intervention professionals, he has an “established condition” which means that he is eligible for early intervention services without an evaluation.
WHOA…wait a minute. My son is eligible for the services that I provide and coordinate for families. Our family could get supports and services from an early intervention professional. But wait another minute…that’s my job! I do this every day, so I don’t need to reach out to anyone. I’ve got this…right?
While still trying to come to grips with this possible diagnosis, I still need to come to terms with the possibility of having to have someone besides me monitor him professionally if I accept the services. But will I really need to if I already know a lot about development? If I don’t enroll him, am I saying that I know what I’m doing and don’t need any help? Or if I do enroll him, am I acknowledging that I could use some help? I mean after all, he is growing extremely well (almost 2 weeks larger), has a perfect heart rate, and moves around like he has a black belt in karate. I think these are legitimate questions for me to ask, but it shouldn’t come from a place of feeling like I know it all just because I’m a service coordinator.
So let’s just say I’d like “service coordination” on a monthly basis. This title seems to be fairly straight forward and to the point, but we actually do a lot of good stuff! We are responsible for connecting families with resources, connecting them with providers who specialize in one or multiple areas, and establishing rapport with them to make sure they trust us to support their family. But most of all, we strive to empower families and acknowledge that they know their child best and that they can support their child’s development and learning. Sometimes helping a family build confidence in their own ability can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. With this being my role on an everyday basis, this puts me in kind of a personal bind, you know? But there are perks to this situation: I can rely on someone else to see him with objective eyes and notice things that I may overlook or excuse because he’s mine. I also don’t have to handle this all on my own.
Although we say to families constantly that these services are voluntary, it somehow feels different when the shoe is on the other foot. We’ve been reassured several times that there is nothing to worry about, but they didn’t know they were talking to the “Worry Queen”. (I worry about my phone’s function if the screen takes too long to light up.) But at the end of the day, if we seek early intervention services once this little guy arrives, I would hope that I’m in a place to receive the same awesome support this program offers to families like mine every day.