Tonight, Brooklyn and I sat on the couch, reading her books. We read a Sesame Street book, and then an Arthur book. Then she brought me "Corduroy." I began reading the story to her. On each page, I would ask, "Where's the bear? Where's the bunny? Show Mommy the baby doll. Can you please show Mommy where the giraffe is?" My questions were met with blank stares at the pages, just the way it has been for more than a month now. My baby girl had started recognizing animals and items on the pages of her books, then one day she just suddenly stopped. I have felt my heart sink a little further each day that she doesn't talk, doesn't want to hear the names of everything she sees, doesn't seem to care about words anymore.
I sighed and let Brooklyn turn the page.
I am nothing if not persistent, though. Next page. "Where's the bear, Brooklyn?"
"Behhhh??", said a tiny voice.
I swear I had to catch my breath. Surely it was just a coincidental noise she was making. Maybe it was wishful thinking on my part.
"Oh my God! David! Is she saying bear?!"
Dave tested out the waters. "Hey Brooklyn....bear?"
My husband nodded excitedly. "Yeah! Yeah, she is!"
"Bear?????", I squealed.
"Behhhhhhhhhhhh???", said Brooklyn, bouncing on my lap with a big, proud smile.
"Oh, Baby Bear. Oh my gosh. You said bear! You talked! Oh, my smart little girl!!! Oh, thank you!!!" I drowned her in hugs and kisses.
And we said "bear" back and forth about 20 more times. My heart beat so fast in my chest with the excitement of it all. A flood of relief washed over me. I think I smiled for two hours straight. Oh. My. God. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
My little girl got tired of the "bear" game after a while, but she did humor us and say it a few more times throughout the evening.
As Dave was changing Brooklyn into her pajamas before bedtime, he was tickling her and saying, "Ohhhh....Baby Bear!" And then we heard, "Behhhhhh? Bee." Dave said, "I think she's trying to say Baby Bear!" So we repeated "Baby Bear!" over and over to Brooklyn, and over and over she said in her sweet little voice, "Behhhhh? Bee."
Before I laid my sweet girl down in her crib tonight, we cuddled together, listening to Iron & Wine. Brooklyn laid against my chest and snuggled her little body into mine. I laid my head against hers and cried softly, dampening her soft little curls with my tears. "Thank you, God," I whispered. "Thank you for letting my Baby Bear talk. Thank you. Please let her keep talking. Please let her other words come back. Please, please let her be okay. Thank you so much for her, God. Please let her be okay. Thank you, thank you for letting her talk again."
I could have held on to her forever tonight. And she seemed to feel the same. We stayed awake together later than usual, I held her and rocked her and talked to her. We were both so calm and peaceful. I told her how much I loved her and how proud I was of her. Every time I paused, she answered me with a little baby noise. "Mmmmm." To me, her sounds said, "I love you too."
I am filled with such love, such gratitude, such relief. It's as if the sound of her sweet little baby voice healed something inside of me that has been falling apart. I will not forget tonight. As I write this, I am still crying, yet I haven't felt this good in a while.
I know everything that has been going on with Brooklyn isn't suddenly fixed tonight. I know we still don't have all of the answers we need. But she took such a step in the right direction. It gives me hope and lets me believe that my little girl will be all right. Tonight, the feeling of fear that has been hanging all over me and weighing me down has been replaced with peace.
I think I will sleep soundly, for the first time in weeks.