Thursday, January 5, 2012

Milestones: Keeping up with the Baby Joneses

One of the greatest and most stressful things about being a new mom: your little one's milestones.

I have thoroughly enjoyed watching Baby G maneuver her way through her first year of life by hitting her really important milestones (I'm not going to lie, whenever she does something new I liken it to "leveling" her character in the real life version of her own MMORPG. I'm a nerd, remember? I secretly hope she spends her skill points very wisely because it's really hard to reallocate those once they've been spent, am I right guys??? Yeah...) It really is amazing how most tiny humans hit these milestones around the same time considering the millions of different ways they are parented. Humans are pretty darned amazing!

Milestones can be insanely frightening to a new mom who desperately wants her baby to be anywhere on the milestone scale from "perfectly normal" to "ZOMG super-mega baby genius." There have been plenty of times during this first year I have wondered if Baby G is "making the grade" when other babies we know start doing things she hasn't shown interest in trying yet. There have also been times where Baby G has knocked it out of the park by doing AMAZING things that even baffled her doctors. Basically, my baby is all over the milestone scale and it has taken the better part of this year for me to realize, "You know what... it's okay. I can live with this."

I knew Baby G was going to be a scrappy little prizefighter around 5 months of pregnancy. This kid could KICK. HARD. I would look at those cute little feet during her ultrasounds and wonder how such tiny little footsies could send me running to the bathroom with one solid roundhouse to my bladder. It doesn't matter how it happened, though. It happened. I also swear I could feel her reaching out and grabbing anything she could get her hands on, but figured I was just loopy from preggo-exhaustion. Immediately after she was born, I began to think I wasn't quite as insane as I had thought.

Baby G was born via Cesarean Section, which I assume was a rather rude awakening for her. As soon as they pulled her out and put her slimy, naked, purple butt on the table she started lifting her head up off of the surface of the table and grabbed for whatever wires she could get her tiny little hands around. Yep, my Baby G hit her first milestone (lifting her head) right in the delivery room. YESSSSSS!

One point for Gryffindor!

I figured this quick burst out of the gate meant that my baby was destined for Mensa and a black belt in AWESOME! My smug feelings were reinforced when, on her second month birthday, she spent several minutes ooo-ing and ahh-ing at me when I ooo-ed and ahh-ed at her. Our first real conversation!!! She nailed it!

Pardon my perfect storm of self-satisfaction.

I was riding high on my child's first accomplishments (livin' the dream!), but as time went by I noticed she wasn't quite rolling over as well as I thought she should. Hmmm... Should I call the doctor? Is this a problem? Is she developmentally behind now? Was it something I did? I totally worried about her lack of interest in doing this thing she was supposed to be doing. Of course, I worried for nothing. Eventually she was rolling this way and that way, back and forth, here and there. I had nothing to worry about. She just "decided" one day that being mobile via rolling was what all the cool kids were doing and she did it. Just like that.

Then, on the 4th of July (when Baby G was nearly 6 months old) we were over at my mom's house for a BBQ. I was holding Baby G in the living room and my mom walked into the room and said, "Hi" to Baby G. Baby G turned, looked at my mom, and said, "Hi" right back to her. Seriously. This was confirmed by a room full of adults who all fell silent with equally shocked looks on their faces. YESSSSSS!!!!

Uh.. yeah... it's a Mitchell and Webb Look thing. Funny show. Very British.

So, I got to put in the baby book that my Baby G spoke her first word at the svelte age of 6 months. Clearly, we rock as parents!

I waited until about this time to start giving her solid foods because I had read that babies who are formula-fed have a higher risk of obesity if they begin solids before the age of 6 months. Well, my husband and I are not what you would call "thin" so I already knew Baby G had an uphill battle. Several "other moms" had questioned why she wasn't eating solids yet, which got me to wondering if I was making a huge mistake. I spoke to Baby G's doctor who told me it was totally up to me and I wasn't harming my kiddo by holding off on the rice gruel. All of this is to say, her solid foods milestone wasn't hit until 6 months, but it wasn't due to any hesitancy on her part. Once we started solids, she was in it to win it. She's been a great eater with relatively few instances of straight up rejection when it comes to trying new foods. We'll call that milestone a draw (started late, but stuck the landing on the first try).

Crawling, on the other hand, was not something Baby G thought she needed to do. Several of her other baby friends were already crawling (some up to a month younger than Baby G) and she showed roughly "negative one billion percent" interest in joining them. We would put her up on her hands and knees, she would plop back down and roll away. We would actually activate her arms and legs for her (dad on arms, mom on legs, Baby G in her starring roll as our marionette), she would get cranky, plop back down and roll away. I was completely sure our kid was going to skip crawling and move straight to walking (just like her mom did oh-so-many years ago). Then, the other baby at her day care started crawling. SUCCESS! Peer pressure did as it has done for thousands of years... it pushed one tiny human to do the very same thing as all the other tiny humans around her. For the first of relatively few times in her short childhood, peer pressure was actually welcomed. Baby G now crawls like a NASCAR race car.

I wanna go fast! (FYI: not Baby G. She wouldn't be caught dead in that get-up. Not enough glitter.)

I, of course, worried constantly about her disinterest in crawling up until she actually did it. I had heard babies who don't crawl have poor hand-eye coordination (which I was willing to believe as I have terrible hand-eye coordination and I skipped crawling). In the end, it was a non-issue. I worried for nothing... again. She nailed it straight out of the gate... again. She went from not crawling AT ALL to crawling like she'd done it for months in roughly 3 days. Baby G was quickly becoming like my own little Buddha, teaching me patience.

Now, we rejoin the present time where my biggest concern is her lack of interest in holding her own bottle. She flat-out doesn't want to do it. I know she can because I've seen her do it for short periods of time before she drops it, looks at me like, "Uh... laying down on the job, are we?" and refuses to drink it, opting to play with it instead. At this point (at nearly 11 months of age) I'm sort of not going to worry about it too much. She already holds a sippy cut fairly well (and has done so for over a month now) and, frankly, I've sort of learned over this past year that my kid is really great at deciding when she's ready to do things. She's not behind at all, developmentally. It will seem like she isn't ready to do something one day, then the next day she just does it like it isn't any big thing. Plus, I really love that there are certain times of the day where my super-wiggle baby lets me just sit and hold her while I feed her a bottle. Some days that is the only snuggle-time I get.

She's been pulling herself up to standing for a couple of weeks now. Last night she got a little more bold. She pulled herself up to standing with both hands on the Exersaucer, let go with one hand, then let go with the other hand. Instead of immediately plopping down on her butt, she stayed standing for nearly 10 seconds. Nailed it! YESSSSS!!!

Also not Baby G, but shares Baby G's spirit of "completely owning at everything you do."

I know I was tempted for the majority of this year to gauge Baby G's successes on the successes of those in her age group but I think it's time to realize that my pig-headed Baby G is just going to do her thing at her own time and not stress out about it too much. She's done things way before and way after her peers and that's okay. We will continue to give her the tools, resources, and support to get her to where she needs to be but, ultimately, it is up to her to figure these things out for herself. As her mom, there's no better feeling than seeing the light-bulb go off in her cute little noggin' as she realizes she is capable of something new and exciting. I love it when she looks at me with a huge smile after she's done something new and claps her little hands as if to say, "Oh my gosh!! Did you just see that???"

Hell yeah I did, Baby G. You're made of pure awesome!


  1. Leveling up...oh yes ~nods knowingly before going to play World of Warcraft for a bit~

    I don't actually have a child, but I really enjoy reading your letters and experiences to your baby. Hope you don't mind I may not have the more helpful things to say but I shall still read.

  2. Of course she's made of pure awesome - she's your kid!! I think all us moms are going to freak out about every little thing our kid does or doesn't do. I've got to work on it myself, because I am naturally a worrier, but Sev hasn't disappointed yet either. Yay for awesome babies!