When the couple opened the door to the nursery, they tentatively approached the wooden crib and stood on opposite sides of it. Simon and Angelique watched the little boy kick his legs and move his hands up to his face rubbing at his closed eyes.
The therapist couple differed in their expectations for how Jacob would react when he opened his eyes. While Simon thought that Jacob might get verbally abusive, Angelique speculated he would initially have an internalized emotional reaction. However, they were both certain that the 22-year-old inside of that toddler's body was going to be a force to be reckoned with the moment he realized the procedure had been successful.
But, neither of them could have predicted the events that unfolded next. To the astonishment of his caretakers, the toddler opened his eyes and let out a few whimpers before breaking out into a heart-stopping wail.
Without any hesitation, Angelique reached into the crib and took the little boy into her arms. She bounced him a few times hoping to calm him down, while Simon stood still, momentarily stunned into silence.
Watching Angelique try to soothe the crying child, Simon reflected on the little boy's response. He knew Jacob's reaction was not anything close to the behavior they were told to expect. Anxious, his immediate questions echoed in his mind. Is this a complication? What went wrong? Will he permanently remain this way?
The only thing he knew for certain is that they had to call Mr. Hammond right away as he would be the only one who could advise them on what to do next. Before he could finish gathering the thoughts and observations he'd need to describe to Mr. Hammond, Angelique tapped on his arm.
"Simon, did you hear me?"
He focused his eyes on her, taking in her attentive expression. "No, I didn't. I'm sorry. What did you say?"
She rocked the screaming child. "Could you get him a bottle from the fridge? I made one earlier. It should be in the door."
Seeing that her husband was a little dazed by the recent development, she added. "Don't forget to use the bottle warmer on the counter."
Angelique placed her free hand on the boy's head that was nestled into her shoulder. Swaying gently, she cooed softly to him, "It's okay."
After a few moments, his loud wails dwindled into quiet sobs. The veteran babysitter expected that his throat must have been rather parched since he hadn't drunk any liquids in days.
She saw Simon re-enter the nursery with the bottle in his hand and his cell phone pressed against his ear. He handed her the warmed bottle and immediately left the nursery to continue his phone call.
With the bottle in her hand, Angelique sat in the rocking chair and propped the little boy's head up against her arm. It took her a few tries to get the rubber teat into the boy's mouth, but once he got a taste of the milk, his instincts took over. For a short while, the only sound that could be heard in the nursery was the little boy eagerly suckling the milk from the bottle.
When Simon made it to the kitchen, he retrieved the bottle from the fridge and turned on the bottle warmer. He reached into his pocket for his cellphone and dialed the number for Mr. Hammond's office phone. The phone rang a few times before it was answered.
"Hello. This is Mr. Hammond speaking."
"Mr. Hammond, this is Simon from yesterday."
"Gotcha. Is everything alright?"
As soon as the light on the bottle warmer disappeared, he grabbed the bottle and made his way upstairs. "Well, we aren't sure. Jacob just woke up, but he...well, he isn't Jacob."
"I'm not sure what you mean."
Simon took a deep breath. "When he woke up, he whimpered and cried. His actions were closer to those of a true toddler rather than an adult. Angelique is upstairs right now trying to calm him down."
"Wow, did he speak at all?"
Simon quickly handed Angelique the bottle and walked out of the nursery.
"No, he's still crying. I'm not sure if you were able to hear him just now in the background."
"Yes, I did. That is odd, indeed." Mr. Hammond paused, and Simon could hear him flipping through some papers and typing on his computer in the background. "It is possible this could just be a response to the sedative, but we have not had this happen with any other patients before. Let's take the day to observe him. Hopefully, he will snap out of it in a few hours."
"Okay, we will do that. Thank you, Mr. Hammond."
"Not a problem, Simon. I'll let Dr. Kelly know about this development, and we will be in touch in the coming days."
"Alright. Thanks again. Bye."
Simon put his phone into his pocket and stepped back into the nursery. He noticed that Angelique was seated in the rocking chair with the little boy snuggling into her embrace. It seemed Jacob had already finished his milk, as his wife had placed the empty bottle on a nearby table.
Looking up at her husband, Angelique asked in a soft voice, "What did Mr. Hammond say?"
Simon leaned against the crib. "He said it is unusual behavior, but he advised us to simply observe for now and wait until tomorrow to come in. The hope is that he will snap out of this state."
"Okay. So, we just have to hope this isn't a serious complication?"
He nodded. "Yup."
They both heard Jacob let out a tiny yawn and watched him rub his eyes.
Simon put a finger on his chin. "I wonder if he will talk."
He crouched down to Jacob's eye level while the toddler was still seated in Angelique's lap. "Jacob?" he began in a gentle tone of voice.
The little boy curled into Angelique and hid his face in her blouse.
Simon looked up at his wife, and they both shared a smile. Angelique gently lifted Jacob to turn him around and re-seated him in her lap making him face her husband. She pat the little boy on the back, hoping to encourage him to interact with Simon.
The middle-aged man tried again. "Jacob, do you remember who I am?"
This time the little boy looked up at him with a curious expression, but he didn't respond.
Simon did have considerable training in child therapy, and he decided to try some of the engagement techniques that he reserved for his youngest clients. He stood up and went to the toy shelf on the other side of the room, grabbing a plush clownfish. But before he went back to the other side of the room, he wanted to make sure he checked that the child's hearing was okay.
"Honey, could you distract him for a second?"
"Sure." Angelique tickled the little boy a few times, eliciting a few giggles from him as he shyly swatted her hands away.
Simon clicked a button on a toy cell-phone watching to see if Jacob would respond to the noise. The toy played a musical recording of a high-pitched, sing-song voice. ♫ Hello! Hello! Who's, calling to say hi? Glad you called to talk a while. Then, we'll say bye-bye. Bye-bye! ♫
The instant the music began, the child's eyes widened, and he ignored Angelique's tickles. Instead, he turned towards Simon trying to find the source of the sound.
Simon smiled warmly in response to the boy's mystified stare and walked back over until he stood on the side of the rocking chair. "Well, I'm glad to know you can hear me, buddy."
He stooped down again in front of the rocking chair and lifted the toy so that it was facing Jacob, holding it at the child's eye-level.
Simon spoke with a playful tone of voice. "Hi, there." He raised the toy and shook it a few times. "My name is Nemo. Can you tell me your name?"
When he didn't get a response, he continued. "I'm from the ocean, and I swim all around the sea." He moved the plush toy around with a wavy motion. "I have so much fun in the water. Can you say, water?"
Once again, the toddler didn't respond. Instead, he put his thumb in his mouth while continuing to carefully observe the man's actions.
Simon smiled at his wife and settled the toy on her lap next to the toddler. "This nice lady is my friend too." He snuggled the toy next to Angelique. "Sometimes, when I'm swimming in the ocean, I like to count stuff. Will you count with me? I want to count the people in the room, but I'm going to need your help. Okay?"
"Alright, here we go! One!" He nudged his chest with the clownfish. "Two!" He grazed the toy against his wife's arm. "Three!" He poked the toddler in the belly with Nemo.
Jacob was a giggly mess. He closed his eyes for a second, clearly delighted by the game they were playing.
Simon started the game again. "One! Two! Your turn beautiful lady."
Angelique filled in. "Three!" The little boy looked up at her and smiled.
"One! Two! Your turn little mister." He touched the plush toy against Jacob's arm.
He waited, trying to give the child a moment to answer.
"Can you say three for me, buddy?"
"One! Two!" He paused again, allowing a long moment of silence before he filled in for the child. "Three!"
He put the toy down on the floor next to him and placed his hands over his eyes. Quickly uncovering them, he exclaimed. "Peekaboo!"
The little boy squealed with a smile on his face, kicking his legs.
Simon covered his face with his hands again, and this time he made a silly face eliciting more gleeful giggles from Jacob.
The therapist reached over and gently took Jacob's hands in his, slowly removing his thumb from his mouth. He helped the little boy cover his own face with his little hands. Then, he quickly moved them away. "Peekaboo!"
He repeated the gesture, and this time released his grasp of the boy's hands, hoping to see him mirror the game, but the toddler hid behind his hands for a few minutes until he peered up and went back to sucking his thumb.
Simon ran his hand through his hair. He had exhausted the best of his engagement techniques. After spending an hour trying to assess the communication skills of the child, he was still in the dark. Now, he reached the point where he had no choice but to resign himself to hoping the child would choose to verbally communicate with them somehow.
Standing up and patting his thighs, he made eye contact with his wife. "I guess we'll just have to sit back and watch."
Angelique responded with a sympathetic expression on her face, "That's okay. Now's a good time to get started on lunch. I'm sure Jacob might want some solid food."
Around 6 pm, after feeding, changing and bathing the toddler, Simon and Angelique decided to watch the new episode of Black-ish on the TV in the bedroom. They were seated at the foot of the bed, and the tyke was lying next to Angelique with his head resting on her lap. They had dimmed the lights in the room as the child had been in the process of falling asleep for a few minutes.
Suddenly, Jacob's body shook like he had been electrocuted. Simon and Angelique immediately darted their eyes to his direction. The toddler's hands grabbed at his head, and he screamed in pain.
Simon quickly moved from his seat at the foot of the bed and kneeled in front of the child still on Angelique's lap trying to determine what the child was experiencing. Inches away from him, the little boy frantically kicked his legs and shook his head. It's not a seizure if he still has control over his arms. What is this?
But just as quickly as the symptoms started, they abated before Simon could make any conclusions. The couple paid close attention as the child slowly straightened himself into a sitting position next to Angelique. With his eyes tightly shut, the toddler massaged his temples.
"Ugh, my head." he groaned, and this time Simon and Angelique were sure the real Jacob had finally made his appearance.