Important Milestones You Won’t Find in Baby Books

Baby milestones are a big deal, regardless of how many boxes you check off on a medical history form at the doctor’s office. They’re a big deal because your child is learning, growing, and transitioning from a dependent baby to an independent toddler. In our house, this transition will take extra time. The learning and growing happens over weeks or months only to reach one stepping stone of a milestone.

It’s almost impossible not to focus on Hannah’s progress when I can’t go a week without someone asking me if she’s crawling, walking, dancing, or talking yet. I’ve finally perfected my response, which was previously a gaping mouth and deer-in-headlights stare. Now I simply say “No, not yet” and when the other person gives a concern look I follow up with “Hannah’s on her own schedule.” Anyone who knows Hannah understands my response and for everyone else, well…I don’t owe them an explanation.

Typically, I try to stay away from any social media links or stories about milestone schedules; however, I came across one the other morning that piqued my interest. The picture on Pinterest showed the words “Important Milestones You Won’t Find in Baby Books” written across a diapered bum. The list included a few moments we have experienced and a few I hope we can avoid.

The first time you get pooped on – Hannah pooped on me while we were cuddling post-birth. I can’t wait to tell her that when she’s older and being sassy.

The first time you cry when your baby cries – Not yet, surprisingly.

The first day all the other moms seem to know what they are doing – The first day? How about every time I go out in public, sporting yoga pants and dirty hair, struggling to balance the carseat, diaper bag, and whatever else I was silly enough to bring. Then I look up and see another mom dressed like a functioning member of society with 4 well-behaved kids in tow, buying craft supplies to do some crazy Pinterest project. Yeah..I’m not the least bit jealous.

The first tantrum – Let’s call this a meltdown instead. It was 3 weeks after Hannah’s surgery and we were at our friends’ house. Out of nowhere Hannah started screaming and crying. She didn’t want the bottle or pacifier. She didn’t want to be held or laying down. She didn’t want gas drops of Tylenol. She and I were sweaty, exhausted messes when Pete and I finally decided to leave, which was exactly when Hannah stopped crying.

The first time the baby throws an entire plate of food – The pediatrician recommended letting Hannah play with her food or hold a spoon to see if she can find her mouth. Well, let me warn you that a spoonful of applesauce travels farther than you’d expect when thrown by a 1 year old.

The first time she figures out how to remove the diaper – Thank goodness we aren’t at this stage yet! Our wiggly little girl is starting to learn how to evade a clean diaper by rolling over.

The first night you literally get no sleep – I can’t even blame a restless baby for this since Hannah slept through the night at an early age. The week before I went back to work was plagued with anxiety dreams and very little sleep.

The first day you realize you’re amazing – The first day, a good week after she was born, that Hannah and I were home all by ourselves and we both survived.

And I’m adding this one to the list…

The first time your heart explodes with love – The first time Hannah saw me and reached out for me.

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Major Milestone: Unassisted Sitting

On July 27 we sat down with our Birth To Three liaison and Hannah’s soon-to-be Special Education teacher to write our Individual Family Service Plan. The developmental goal we decided on for Hannah was a lofty one – unassisted sitting. I didn’t have a clue how long that would take Hannah but the list of mini goals was a long one.

Back then, we’d maneuver Hannah into a seated position and keep our hands on her shoulders to keep her stable. The progress was very slow at first because Hannah lacked almost all of the back and core strength to straighten up or stabilize. Tummy time ended up being the best exercise for her because it helps strengthen the back and neck muscles. Slowly but surely, as the weeks went by our hands moved lower and lower down Hannah’s tiny body. From the shoulders to under her arms, then to her mid-torso, then to her hips. One day she was sitting so well all I had to do was keep my hand against her lower back to her tilt

The downside of all this was that Hannah also learned that she didn’t have to sit if she didn’t want to. It was frustrating and adorable when she simply refused to play along. Her muscles would stiffen, stubbornness fueling her to push back against my hands, and tilting her hips so her bum would slide forward. Thankfully that rebellion only lasted a couple weeks.

In mid-November the improvement in Hannah’s strength changed overnight. She was able to sit unassisted for a second or two without crumbling backwards or to the side. Her daycare teachers practiced with her every day and often reported that Hannah was improving quickly. Some of it may have been mental too, realizing that she could see and do much more when sitting up.

Pete and I agreed that Hannah would be sitting solo by Christmas. I’m proud to announce that she beat our guess by 2 ½ weeks! At her Birth To Three appointment last week she sat completely unassisted for over five minutes. Not only that, but she also played with and reached for toys.

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Now, Hannah loves to sit in front of the mirror and make faces at herself, or on the kitchen table and make faces at us and our friends. It’s amazing to watch as she wobbles and catches herself from falling. Her body must be exhausted at the end of the day from the tiny muscles contractions. Unfortunately for her, now we’re going to start teaching her how to get back on the floor to lay down.