Saturday, January 9, 2016

On developmental milestones

I recently wrote out the story of the health struggles we went through with Haddon during his first year.  My big 3 year old is now is the 60th percentile for both height and weight, which feels like a big accomplishment for both of us that needs to be recorded!!  I'm so thankful for my little boy and everything he teaches me!  He certainly has challenged me, but all of the struggles have been so good for me heart and perspective on life and parenting, so I wanted to share.

When Haddon was born he was perfect, even the doctors agreed.  It was at his two-week well check that his pediatrician heard a heart murmur and sent us to see a pediatric cardiologist.  My sweet little baby had a ventricular septal defect (VSD) or a hole in his heart.  My heart dropped upon hearing this and true to form I was full of worries, but we were sent home with a list of symptoms to look for and the reassurance that he would likely be just fine.  He was growing well, eating well and a content little boy, but many questions lingered in my mind.  Did I do something to cause this?  Was it my fault?  The doctors said this just happens sometimes.  No reason given.  No cause.

When he was around six months old his weight gain started dropping off.  He was happy and content, but also VERY skinny. He didn’t sit up until a few months later than my first-born and wasn’t making any attempts at crawling, but I knew that all kids develop differently.  He was a great eater. I was amazed that he never refused a single food I gave him, but every time I gave him a bath and saw how skinny he was there was a pit in my stomach.  I listened to others coo over their chubby babies and my worries and questions constantly circled around in my mind.  When he was a year old, I felt that something wasn’t right and talked to his doctor about it, which was followed by countless tests and doctor’s visits.  It felt like all I did that winter was take Haddon to the pediatrician, neurologist, physical therapist, hospital for testing, etc, etc.  In the end, we were told that he had hypotonia or muscle weakness, but again no cause.  My mind again immediately went to all the questions.  Was this my fault?  Did I do this to sweet baby boy?  Did I drink too much coffee during pregnancy? Is it because I am getting older?  Should I have stopped breastfeeding?  What did I do wrong? I questioned myself on everything.

After he turned 1, a physical therapist with the AEA started coming to our house for weekly therapy.  She worked with him and gave me things to do with him to improve his strength and get him moving. I also met with a dietician who told me I was doing everything right.  He started walking at about 20 months and is now a fast and fun-loving almost 3-year-old boy.

I’m so thankful for Haddon’s doctors and physical therapist.  I’m so thankful that he is walking and running and climbing now, but all of this was a GOOD thing, a really good thing.  It made me realize that I absolutely do not care if my children meet their developmental milestones on time.  I do not care if they walk, talk, read or do any of those things when they are supposed to.  That sounds harsh and I’m so thankful we have those guidelines, but I realized that all of my focus on developmental milestones and what my friend’s babies were doing was really only me playing the mommy comparison game.  I thought I wanted my son to be physically strong, but I don’t.  I want him to be brave.  Brave enough to do the right thing when it’s hard.  I don’t even want him to be the most intelligent. I want him to be the most compassionate.  I want him to the most loving and the most wise.  Because our world doesn’t need more smart men or strong men.  We need more men of character and that is my goal for my son and I lost sight of that.

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