Friday, March 19, 2010

Milestone anxiety

Sometime shortly after Caroline was born, I signed up for about a bajillion baby development emails. You know the ones I mean—your baby week by week, your x-week-old, or whatever. When they showed up in my inbox, I’d read them with a tinge of anxiety, checking up on where Caroline “should be”. I’d watch her during playtime, looking for milestones, or signs that she was about to reach them. Was that roll-over on purpose, or just a lucky accident? Is she lifting herself up enough during tummy time? Oh no… am I giving her enough tummy time? IS SHE GOING TO YALE OR ISN’T SHE?! I’ve got to tell you, I worry way more about this than I ever thought I would.

But it isn’t just me. The moms’ message board I post on is always consumed by posts about development and milestones. And those baby newsletters have to be fueled by some kind of demand, right? We all want to know whether or not our babies are on track, or “normal”.

For us, it’s turned out to be kind of a mixed bag. Caroline’s gross motor skills have always been a little behind. She was diagnosed with a mild gross motor delay at 9 months, and now that she’s a year and still not really crawling and definitely not pulling up or sitting up, it’s more of a full-fledged gross motor delay. We’re in the process of getting early intervention back out to our apartment for a follow-up evaluation, since she didn’t quite qualify for physical therapy at her 9 month visit.

The girl talks, though, like crazy. I hear that’s usually how it goes… if they have one type of delay, they make up for it in another area. When you have to watch what you say around your 12.5 month-old for fear she might repeat it (need I remind you of “ohshish”?), you know you are in trouble. I admit that I now shut off the radio when I pick her up from daycare for fear that her new favorite word will be “crunk”, or worse.

Anyway. It’s hard, when you go to daycare and you see babies months younger than yours walking around, and yours is still pushing herself around backwards on her belly. It makes me a little sad when I see or hear about other babies playing in ways that she can’t, and won’t be able to for a long time. It makes you wonder what you’re doing wrong. And I feel like even if she hadn’t turned out to have a delay, I’d still have been just as anxious about it.

It doesn’t help that when I saw one of Caroline’s pediatricians for a sick visit and mentioned my worries about her lack of sitting and pulling up, he asked, “were you and your husband also slow?” Uhhh… thanks for your sensitivity there, doc. I learned tact in med school. Why didn’t you?

But what I’ve come to terms with is this: that other baby in daycare isn’t better than my baby because he walks and mine doesn’t. His mom isn’t a better mother than me because my baby has a delay and hers doesn’t. It doesn’t mean anything, really. She’ll walk when she’s ready to. And if she doesn’t walk, for whatever reason, that’s okay too. She is who she is, and I love her regardless.

So now when those baby development emails show up in my inbox, I just delete them without reading them. (Someday I will get up the motivation to unsubscribe.) As long as we are taking appropriate steps to monitor her development and help her with her delays, that’s all I need to know.