The Leatherneck Mom Story: Part 1


Follow the story of Becca: The Leatherneck Mom, a Marine wife and mom to a sweet little boy named Landon, as she figures out what to do with a speech delay and the ultimate cause behind it and it’s not what you would have thought…

Part 1

By Rebecca Davis

Landon’s story begins over three years ago on a snowy day in South Carolina. I held that 6 pound, 8 ounce little baby boy with dark hair and a perfect little button nose and I cried. Nine months of pregnancy is enough to make any woman cry, but holding your baby after all that? Perfection – and he was totally worth the wait.

But then the nursing problems started. Landon just couldn’t latch on, no matter what we tried. We met with a fabulous lactation consultant, but since a lot of babies have difficulties nursing, she didn’t think much of it and kept encouraging us to keep on keepin’ on. Those early days with Landon were some of the hardest simply because of the feeding difficulties. I remember both of us crying in the middle of the night because we were so frustrated! But I was determined, so we kept working through it, and eventually Landon became a good little nurser and I was able to nurse him until he was a year old (he tried self-weaning at nine months, but no way, little man, I fought for that!). Little did I know that the nursing problems were only the beginning. They were due to something called “low muscle tone” or if you want the technical term for it, hypotonia. Basically, when Landon was trying to figure out how to nurse, his muscles were having a hard time figuring out how to latch on and suck. He also has a high, narrow palate, which can make nursing very difficult, but no one ever noticed it.

Landon reached all his milestones on time except for walking; he was 15 months old when he finally walked independently. His low muscle tone is extremely mild, so not a single pediatrician ever noticed it (and we’ve been to see plenty of pediatricians with our military moves). My mom’s physical therapist was actually the first one to mention it when she observed him one afternoon. We ended up taking him to a podiatrist, who said he didn’t have low muscle tone but imbalance. Talk about confusing! We were getting a lot of differing opinions, and as a first time mom, I didn’t really know what to think.

We started to notice that Landon had a speech delay. He babbled from an early age, so there were no red flags in the beginning. He started saying Dada (with meaning) around nine months, and then added a few other words by the time he was 15 months. His pediatrician thought we should wait a few more months until he needed to be evaluated by a speech therapist – boys are often late talkers. When Landon was around 18 months old we still weren’t hearing more than a few additional word approximations. He was always babbling but nothing was very clear.

He started speech therapy for a few months, but we decided to take him out and give him some more time since there are plenty of kids with speech delays who finally catch up around two or two and a half years old. When he turned two and things still weren’t improving, I decided to put him back in therapy. We saw small improvements, particularly after getting tubes put in his ears, but nothing major. At two and a half, he said about six words clearly: hey, mama, daddy, baby, bye-bye, and bomb (don’t ask – we didn’t teach him that one). He had over a hundred word “approximations” (for example, “dur” for drink), but no one could understand them except for Randy and me, and usually that was only because of context and the fact that we were with him all day every day.

A pediatrician who had watched Landon in church nursery mentioned that he most likely needed to be in occupational and physical therapy for the low muscle tone, so we started those within the next few weeks. His fine and gross motor delays were not found to be major, but they needed to be addressed. I asked his physical therapist if she thought I should take him to the neurologist just to see if he would be able to find a cause of the low muscle tone. She said they may never be able to find a cause, but sure, why not.

Long before we made the appointment, I started researching (Google is my bad habit). When a kid has a speech delay, it’s not usually considered serious but combine that with low muscle tone, gross and fine motor delays, sensory issues, etc… I knew there was something more to it. I had no idea what it was, but I was reading things like “autism,” “ADHD,” “genetic disorder,” “PDD,” etc.

I was SO scared. I was nursing my second son at that time, and the stress and anxiety took such a hold on me that my body started reacting to the stress. My milk supply took a big hit and never fully recovered, I lost weight, and I was so sick I couldn’t eat. I remember sitting on the floor, phone in hand, shaking uncontrollably reading about all the things that could possibly be wrong. How could we just now be figuring it out when the boy was two and a half? He was happy, he was healthy – it just didn’t make sense.

It may not have made sense to me, but our sovereign God, who knows all things, was gently preparing my heart and guiding our steps in His way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: