Friday, January 31, 2014

To Moms Whose Babies Reach Milestones "Late"

I've been reading a lot of these "letters" to mothers, wives, etc.  This letter is to me and all the moms who have struggled with their babies having "late" milestones.  I hope mothers going through a similar experience will find some encouragement.

To the mothers whose baby met every single milestone "late"; to the mom to whom on some days Facebook feels like just another painful reminder of how far "behind" your baby is; to the mom who actually has had a daycare worker ask you if you are holding your child "too much" or somehow preventing him or her from sitting/crawling/walking or whatever the current "late" milestone may be; to the mother who worries every day despite being told not to worry by other mothers who've gone through the same thing; to the mom who cheers her child on even louder and prouder than other moms because instead of dreading the new stage that reaching a developmental milestone brings and mourning the loss of another "baby" feature, you're proud (and relieved) that finally, finally your baby has learned to do something that you've both been working on so hard together.

Let me start by saying: you are not alone.  I am struggling with this and all the emotions that go along with it.  My son turned 15 months yesterday.  He can't walk. In fact, he can't even stand without holding onto something.  He cruises and crawls like a champ but so did all the babies in his daycare class at 10 months old.  

He has been 3+ months "late" on each and every physical milestone (except throwing a ball overhanded, which he did at 8 months :).  He rolled over front to back at 5 months, back to front at 8 months. He sat at 7 months.  He crawled at 10 months.  He (finally) pulled up at 11 months.  

And at each and every milestone I worried.  I'm a mom.  I can't help myself...it's hard not to worry when I see babies more than 3 months younger than mine walking.  

My husband reminds me often that our baby IS "normal" and healthy.  And I know most likely everything is fine and I shouldn't worry because milestones are just averages.  Standards set like lines drawn in the sand.  There is something inherently artificial and generalized about them.  Your baby does not have to necessarily fit these perfectly.  Development ranges widely, naturally.  

My cousin reassured me that it must be genetic because her 3 kids did the same thing.  They were behind, every time.  Her youngest didn't crawl until 12 months!  She's 2 and a half now and running around like all the other kids.  You'd never know any of the 3 had any differences in timing of milestones as babies.

I scoured the internet and (as you would expect) found an incredible number of differing opinions and stories. But one mom's words to another mom who has a 15 month old son (just like me) who isn't walking, really helped me so I thought I'd share them. 
Your son is totally normal. I understand how you feel though. My daughter just started walking at 15.5 months. She was slow with all of her physical milestones. At 12 months, her Dr. sent us to physical therapy, which was incredibly scary to me. The PT told us that she was totally normal and that she would walk when she was ready. So, that was our first and last visit. One night after dinner, she was cruising around the furniture and then just let go and started walking, practically running. It was SOOO exciting. Looking back, I feel like I was lucky to have a late walker. She was more baby-like for longer. Now, she is a full-blown toddler, with things to do and places to go. And remember, it is totally normal for kids to walk from 12-18 months. ~mom who's been there 
                                       

So, I wanted to remind moms like me that, like anything else in life, waiting for something longer makes it that much sweeter. And, people like that daycare worker who, knowingly or not, make you feel as if you've "messed up" in parenting somehow because your baby reaches milestones later than other kids their age, are totally out of line.  (Since when is it ok to make someone feel bad for something they have no control over anyway?!)

Don't let anything (or anyone) take away your joy and your ability to soak up these precious "baby-like" moments. Relish in the fact that you were given the gift of just a few more of these beautiful memories. That's what I've decided to do. After all, my son wouldn't be doing things like holding onto my legs in order to follow me around or playing "hide-and-seek/crawl all over mommy when you find her" anymore if he could walk, would he?

They grow up too fast already. They certainly don't need us rushing them.