Tuesday, May 22, 2012

i have a late bloomer

There.  I said it.  And I don't care who knows.  My baby does things slow.  She does them at her own pace.  And I'm tired of second-guessing about it, and wondering whether my intuition is off, and wondering whether she has x-y-z chromosomal defect that is causing her to not crawl on all fours or whatever skill she is currently not doing as well as any other baby in the world, apparently.

She gets an A+ for ridiculous cuteness, though.

People mean well.  At least I want to think the best of humanity, so I don't think they're trying to cause me pain when they say, "She is SO SMALL!  She is STILL CRAWLING?  She is NOT WALKING?  She only has SIX TEETH?"  They just want something to say.  Kind of like when you're pregnant and they tell you look like a house.  (Actually there's no excuse for that.)  And I'm in a profession where a lot of people are invited to give their input into my life constantly.  I can't claim that I didn't know it came with the territory. 

Truly, I think she wasn't ready to be born when she was forced out.  I think she would have gestated for several more weeks, maybe even a month.  She has been working out of that unreadiness since the beginning. 

She gained weight very slowly, and is still quite petite.  I went through months of darkness, believing it was my fault for not giving her sufficient breastmilk.  But even now, when she eats plenty of all kinds of nutritious, nutrient-dense foods, she is small.

I begged and pleaded for advice on Facebook when she wouldn't hold her head up well, screaming and struggling her way through tummy time.  I still feel guilt and sadness about forcing her into that situation.  Again, well-meaning people told me to seek my doctor's advice, to get a second opinion, to see a physical therapist.  (To my doctor's credit, she was never alarmist and always told me to give it more time.)

She stubbornly refused to crawl, instead figuring out her own system of scooting on her bottom.  She finally tipped forward and onto her belly in her twelfth month.  She slithers throughout the house now.  She is remarkably quick and efficient with it.

Her first tooth finally emerged, sharp and white and pearly, the week before she turned one. 

And now, nearly fourteen months, she shows no signs of walking and even dislikes being held up to stand. 

If one more person asks me if I am concerned about this, I may drop the good-natured facade. 

There is nothing wrong with my child.  Of course, I am her mother, so I am allowed to think that she is perfect and flawless in every way.  I realize that she has issues, as does every person.  She can be temperamental.  She is demanding.  She is a baby.  That's part of the deal.  We don't use the expression "you're acting like a baby" for no reason.

No, nothing wrong with my baby . . . except that she runs against all that it is to be American.  We want things fast, huge, and responsive.  We want what we want at the second we want it.  We want plump, physically strong babies to remind us that we are the dominant culture of the world, with the hope that future generations will continue this trend.  I am as guilty as the next person of falling into this trap.  Slowness is weakness.  Smallness is vulnerability. 

I had a crazy thought as she and I lay together in bed this morning.  What if she develops slowly all her life?  That is to say, what if she doesn't develop into a woman until late in her teens?  (My mother didn't.)  What if she ages slowly and gracefully?  What if she doesn't become ill and die until later than everyone else in her cohort?  Wouldn't that be nice?

So if you're a mama who is worrying herself sick about why her baby won't do whatever everyone else in the playgroup has been doing with ease for months . . . give yourself some grace.  You haven't done anything wrong.  You have a baby who is teaching you what it is to wait and observe.  That is currently very unpopular.  But you don't want a baby just like everyone else's, do you?


Sandy said...

She absolutely gets honors for cuteness. She's a lucky girl to have a momma like you who seeks to help her thrive in her uniqueness from the very beginning. I hope I can remember your example if I am ever able to be a momma.

Andrea said...

I've actually heard that the longer babies crawl, the better coordination they have as adults, and they are often smarter due to some sort of body/brain connections being made while babies. So, that to say, she should crawl as long as she wants to because it's good for her!

And yes, she is super cute.

Ryan said...

Love it, Well said. My mom said I didnt walk or talk until I was two (which my just be the product of being the second child), but I could work and operate a VCR. Jeff and I both grew up physically slow. We were always the shortest but we turned out alright, and quite coodinated as Andrea said. I do know one thing, that girl will be a genius with both of her parents being extremely smart and well learned, not to mention funny. And to all the doubters, just say Rome wasnt built in a day and my kid is cuter that yours.

lily said...

Emily, thank you for your words. I feel for you and I echo many feelings while reading it. I was blaming myself for the first 8 months when Madison was always the one looked stoned and not wanting off my arms for a minute while in our playdates.
Only when she started walking, she began to interact with people more. Now, I start to worry that she would run away from me any minute ;). Talking about teeth, I have least worries about it. She only has 7 with the 7th one slowly comes out just in the past 3 weeks. People have to undertand that every baby is a unique individual that we can't force them to come out as some sort of product!! ( which reminds me of Ed system) looking forward to seeing you and VJ at the pool!!

Kylie D'Alton said...

Oh, I worry all the time! We're not even close to walking. It doesn't stop either next you worry about how many words they are saying, how high they can count... it goes on. Thanks for the lovely post.