The moment the Eminent Surgeon came into the ward and told us that Tom's second implant operation had gone to plan has entered the list of 'critical moments' that have accumulated over the past five months. Almost immediately, the painfully tight, knotted muscles across my neck and shoulders that have been the main physical manifestation of my stress began to ease.
The second implant had come to mean so much to Nik and I in our striving to secure the best possible treatment for Tom. Along with caring for our son, the language therapy and the business of earning enough money to keep a roof over our heads, little else has occupied our thoughts for the longest time. Now it doesn't so what happens next?
Well, in descending order of importance:
Tom is recovering well from the operation. The swelling is slightly further back on his head than last time and so there has been far less distortion to his face.
Tom's vocabulary continues to grow at a tremendous rate and he's made that leap into talking about past events; more specifically, going for rides on Thomas the Tank Engine and a bus last Sunday.
'Tom-Tom in Thomas!', 'Diesel', 'Tom-Tom sat down in the bus!'.
Nik's extended leave from work is coming under closer scrutiny and the pressure to return soon, at least to some extent, is building. This has forced us to confront a number of issues that had seemed far enough in the future as to be safely ignored; namely, how much money do we need to live, where will said money come from and how will work be fitted around the seemingly endless appointments?
Add to that the age-old (well, last twenty years or so) dilemma about how prepared we are to let some of Tom's care be in someone else's hands now? The normal, protective feelings have been heightened at the exact time when Tom needs to mix more with his peers and begin to develop those all-important social interactions. Will the childminder talk to Tom as much as we do and in the right way (therapy does that to you!)?
Reading these last two paragraphs back elicits a wry smile - all the issues are the exact same ones we and all parents deal with from the moment junior first appears. We may have a few more appointments than the average and Tom's needs language-wise are more acute than they were but some semblance of normality has descended.