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Chloe

Looking back, there were signs that something was not quite right with Chloe from the start, though I didn't realise their significance at the time. She was my first child, born after a relatively straightforward delivery, apart from emerging into the world with the cord wrapped round her neck. The midwife dealt with this very efficiently, however, and I saw no reason to be unduly concerned.

After the birth, while still in the hospital, I was somewhat disappointed to observe that Chloe didn't appear to recognise or respond to my voice, as my reading about babies beforehand had led me to expect. As a small baby, she seemed very unhappy. My recollection of her first two months of life is that if she was not sleeping or feeding, she was mostly crying. When she woke up, she would want feeding immediately, so that she was feeding every two and a half hours or so, which was quite exhausting. She was also extremely sensitive to sudden noises. Even quite innocuous sounds, such as a drawer being shut, would make her jump, almost literally. Her entire little body registered the shock.

Chloe

After the first couple of months or so, Chloe seemed much more settled though, and generally made good progress. By six months, she was babbling 'ma-mam-ma', and could sit up. I did notice, though, that trying to look at baby board books with her did not yield much of a response.

However, she sailed through her 8 month developmental check, and generally seemed to be doing well. She was quite an active baby who enjoyed crawling and walking round the furniture. I also noticed at this time that she liked feeling different textures - of clothing, paper, furniture etc. She would quite purposefully run her hands up and down things that attracted or interested her. She also developed a phobia of the vacuum cleaner for a while, which meant that I would have to try and do the vacuuming while she was asleep. Otherwise she would scream quite vehemently.

She walked unaided at 12 months and 1 week, and gave up crawling quite quickly after that. She babbled a lot at this time but there was no sign of recognisable words. Other mothers I knew reported realising that children began recognising and understanding some words around this age, but I could not see any sign of this. At about 14 months, she started saying 'tea' for mug. As she did not drink tea herself, this seemed odd, and I was not convinced then that it was a real word, though I now think that it probably was. The first word I was convinced was a 'real' word did not come until she was 17 months. At her 18 month developmental check, the health visitor expressed concern that her language development was behind, but as she seemed fine in every other respect, did not seem to think it was anything to worry about. In view of later events, I now feel that Chloe's language should have been monitored much more closely over the next few months, but of course it's easy to say with hindsight.

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