Miss Z doesn’t laugh. Maybe it’s because she doesn’t find my jokes funny, but more likely it is a developmental thing. Even as a baby she never laughed, and rarely smiled.
A few years ago, when she was seriously ill with chronic chest infections, Miss Z had a breakthrough day. She’d had a big course of IV antibiotics and suddenly she woke up one day and was much more alert and engaged than usual. I wrote about it here. It was wonderful. But it only lasted a day or two and then it was gone.
During her breakthrough day, she laughed with her sister. It was the first time I’d ever heard her laugh, and at first I wasn’t even sure it was a laugh. I got one video of her laughter from that day and it still makes me smile every time I watch it.
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/237032008″>IMG_6200</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user22250250″>SEMeyers</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
And then she stopped laughing and hasn’t done it since, until a few weeks ago. I’m not sure what changed or why, but she is laughing again. Not every day – it is still quite rare to hear her laugh – but she does it.
What breaks my heart is that I’m not sure if it is a “real” laugh or if it is a new type of seizure. There is a seizure type – “gelastic seizures” – which are characterised by uncontrollable laughter or crying. The first time she laughed, we were getting her ready to go to the hospital because she’d had two days of a “vacant episode” that I was concerned might be a prolonged absence seizure. QB and I were both a little stressed and getting her dressed for a night-time trip to the Emergency Department, when she burst out laughing. I didn’t know whether it was hilarious or horrifying. It was completely out of character and there wasn’t anything obvious that she was laughing at (apart from her stressed out parents). In my mind, I wrote it off as a seizure.
Since then, she’s had more giggling spells, and these seem to be more in context. She laughs at her sister – a lot. She giggles when she does something to get QB or I to come check on her after she’s gone to bed in the evening. She chuckles when you give her a kiss or blow a raspberry on her. And her eyes sparkle a little, making me think that it is a sincere laugh.
We all love it when she laughs. You can’t help but smile when you hear it. One of the most rewarding and fulfilling things about being a parent is seeing your child smile and laugh, and it has been difficult to always see Miss Z so solemn.
But still, I can’t help but wonder. Her laughing is rare, and occurs mostly around the time of her vacant spells (which we still haven’t gotten to the bottom of, but that’s an entirely different story). While I love it when she giggles, there is always a small part of me wondering if I’m smiling and laughing while Z has a seizure.
There really is no way to tell. At some point in the coming months, Miss Z will have a 24-hour EEG, so if she has a laugh during the test, the doctors might be able to tell. Otherwise, we will just have to go on guessing.
Click here to see a video of Z laughing that will definitely make you smile.
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/237662030″>Laughter</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user22250250″>SEMeyers</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>