Friday, June 20, 2014

Milestone anxiety

*Despite the transition of this blog, I plan to continue the usual warning about Beat-related posts (Sorry Mali). For anyone reading, if you are currently NOT in a good space for baby-related posts, particularly ones that involve airy worries, concerns and frustrations, please skip this one. Instead, you can read about this beautiful agave that is blooming!
Taken 6/3/2014

Taken 6/19/2014

Today the Beats are 11 months old (9 months age adjusted). If you read about gross and fine motor skills that are expected in this age group, you'll find that crawling and standing supported are commonly cited, with some cases you'll hear about babies taking their first steps. Eating solids is also talked about, particularly the development of the pincher-grasp, which allows them to pick up smaller objects like peas and cereal. The list goes on and I don't care to go through each of the details, but the point is that this period is ripe for anxiety for any parent as there is this constant pressure to compare where your child(ren) are at compared to every other kid. And when one hits bumps along the way, whether they be big or small, it's enough to cause one to feel very isolated.

Since the day the Beats were born, I've worried about their development. Starting with the fact that they were born before they had developed the ability to suck and swallow, a lot of time was spent in NICU helping them grow and training them to feed from a bottle. I remember very clearly how He-Beat took to the bottle, sucking greedily to take milk. Problem was, he would fail to pause and breathe, so feeding him required making him stop so he could breathe as otherwise his heart rate would drop. In the meantime, She-Beat was taking her time. Far less interested in eating, she would instead spend her time cuddling and wanting her feeds via the NG tube. As He-Beat plowed forward, we were warned there was a very good chance he would go home before her, leaving her alone in the NICU while we adjusted to him being home.

I remember crying from this news. Fearing that leaving my baby girl alone in NICU would cause her to deteriorate. We didn't have help, so while other families have relied on relatives to help split time, we instead were looking at having her go days without anyone there. There was so much fear and anxiety surrounding her not eating and I remember praying while I would hold her, hoping for a miracle so I could bring both babies home.

Four days before they came home, She-Beat decided she was ready to eat from a bottle. And unlike her brother, she was awesome at pacing. So good, actually, that she actually was discharged from the hospital one whole day before her brother. And with that, she set the stage for how she would reach her milestones: in her time and doing them as close to perfection as possible.

Knowing this history should have impressed on me that I need to stop worrying about how the Beats are developing, particularly when He-Beat is charging forward. The trouble is, I constantly have the teachers at daycare watching and giving feedback on what skills need to be accomplished for them to transition to the next stage when they reach 12 months of age (age adjusted). With He-Beat, there is zero worry. This kid is currently standing unsupported and is cruising around the daycare through a series of scoots, pulling and rolling (rolling when he wants to get somewhere fast). With each accomplishment, he smiles the biggest smile as he is so proud of what he's doing. And he has She-Beat cheering him on, clapping and giggling as he makes it over to the toy bins to turn them over.

She-Beat, on the other hand, is currently showing zero interest in crawling or standing. She hates being on her tummy with a passion and will quickly roll off of it when placed on or will meltdown. Though she loves being in the jump chair, she really has no desire to put weight on her feet. Initially the teachers were concerned that this was reflective of an issue with gross motor skills, but considering they both decided to sit unsupported prior to rolling over, that whole theory has gone out the window. Add in the fact that she is doing very well with other aspects of her development (she excels at fine motor as she is very interested in her hands), and it's a bit of a perplexing issue.

HRF's recent post about the difficulties she's facing with her son's eating really hit home. Particularly the point where she talked about how isolated she felt with all of this. A big part of me knows that babies develop at their own rates and that pushing various aspects is not only counter-productive but can also be down right detrimental. But the thing is I also want to make sure that if there is an issue we address it. That we help She-Beat meet these different milestones as not doing so will negatively impact her. The problem comes with distinguishing whether there is truly an issue. Some teachers are completely convinced its just a matter of her watching her brother and deciding that she wants to do what he's doing. She's a perfectionist, after all. Still there's also the warnings about not seeing things and how we may need to hold her back. 

The long and the short of all of this is there's been stress. Stress that I feel ashamed to even talk about. On the one hand, I know how amazingly lucky I am to have these two and they are both so much more than I could ever imagine. I also worry that my anxiety will affect them, planting the seeds for low self-esteem and self-worth. I'm still suffering from those seeds that were planted when I was young and I truly don't want to pass these demons on. 

So I'll pose the same question HRF did yesterday: Am I creating a monster over this issue? Or is this a real problem? Has anyone else dealt with something like this? 


  1. I could imagine that is a stressful situation. I know this sounds totally cliche and probably because I have no clue about developmental skills, but every child is different and will do things in their own time? I hope she starts showing off those skills very soon :)

    One thing I worry about daily with having twins, is them coming into the world early. I know it has its own set of challenges.

  2. I can't speak to this specifically...but my first didn't crawl until he was just shy of a year old. And he wasn't a premie. I think some of it might be that you have a side by side comparison and they are so different. I'm not saying that there isn't something to be concerned about, just that there MIGHT not be. You can't NOT worry about this stuff, you're a mama. Prayers!

  3. Are the brats followed up by the NICU? We go to the high-risk follow-up clinic about every 6 months and it gives me so much peace of mind. I'm not sure how early qualifies, but I sure would think 2 months would!

    I've had eating and milestone stress since Day 1 and very few people really understand. I can't say exactly how I deal, but I guess it's through a mixture of stress, research and ultimately trying to relax. I actually felt a but more secure when we were in OT because I had someone to tell me what to work on. And now I mostly trust my instincts. I was really worried about Cerebral Palsy for awhile, so I had him checked and my concerns were alleviated. D still isn't walking at nearly 18 months adjusted, but I just know deep down that he will soon. I was worried about language, then he had a bit of an explosion.

    So basically I don't think you are creating a monster. Early intervention is important when needed. So get an expert opinion and then trust they will each develop at their own rate.


  4. I don't feel comfortable giving advice in these situations, but I can say that I know how you feel. My son is almost eight month olds and still doesn't eat really any solids. I wrote about it recently, how it was totally stressing me out. At almost eight month he will really put three things in his mouth for a prolonged period of time: Baby Mum Mum rice crackers, buttered toast and apple slices. He still hasn't swallowed anything (my MIL says he has eaten an entire jar of pureed peas but I've never been able to get him to swallow purees). I talked to my pedi about it and she said not to worry, that they aren't really supposed to be eating much of substance before nine months, but I KNOW he won't be there at nine months either. At this point I'm just waiting to see, and hoping that since he seems to be on track for everything else, he'll eventually catch up on this too.

    I will say that my daughter was very late to the "movement" game. She didn't crawl until she was 11 months old, and even then she didn't crawl much. She never really held herself up on coaches or things like that, she never "cruised," she never army crawled. She was pushing herself backward a little bit for about a month before she finally crawled, but it took forever for her to do that, and then she didn't walk until she was 14 months old, almost 15 months really. So I would say, don't worry about it yet and talk to her pediatrician if you get to a place where you are worried. They generally have a good idea of where kids should be, and know that it takes some kids longer to hit a milestone. I know it's hard. I've already done all this with one kid and I'm STILL making myself crazy with my second, so I GET IT. Truly, I do. But usually waiting it out is all it takes for them to get where they need to be, and if they do need more help, you'll figure out how to give it to them when the time is right.

    I hope that helps, even a little bit.

  5. It is so hard NOT to worry, Christy - so don't beat yourself up for that worry. Cheeks is 16 months tomorrow, and still not walking. It stresses me out to no end, no matter how many people tell me that "up to 18 months can be normal". I find myself bragging about her other accomplishments and cringing when people ask me if she's walking yet. I don't want to care. I don't want to worry. But I can't help it. So I really do think that worry is normal, even when we logically know they will get there. And they WILL get there - in their own time. Because kids are apparently stubborn like that! ;)

  6. Grrrr I just typed a whole comment and it got eaten! Bah!

    The short version (because I am so tired from Lfs food tantrums today!) is that gross motor stuff can turn around really fast! She Beat could wake up one morning and shock the hell out of you. But, if you aren't comfortable, push for an evaluation from your pediatrician. I am considering doing the same at LF's 18 month visit.

    And thank you so much for the shout out. :) It's nice to be back!

  7. I had to laugh at your apology. You don't need to apologise to me for being sensitive to others' and the emotional space they might be occupying right now. I'm just sad that the need to do so exists.

    Wait till they start talking - you might find that She races ahead on that, and you can freak out about him. I know you know that, and I'm not dismissing your concerns. I suspect that the first year or two are going to be particularly hard - worrying about age-adjustments, are there any problems etc. Once they're walking and talking I hope it will be easier for you.

    I loved the description of She-Beat clapping and giggling at her mobile brother. He's providing her with free entertainment!

  8. To make you feel better, Coop was only two weeks early and has always been behind in gross motor. He hated tummy time and was slow in crawling and especially in walking. But you know what? He did it on his own time in a very slow-and-steady fashion. Finally at 16-17 months he began walking 100% of the time. He exploded in speech, but walking was slow going. Please don't worry just yet. Give she-beat a little time to explore, watch, and get her own groove on. I was constantly comparing C to his peers and was wondering when he would abandon crawling for walking, but he found his own way and at 18 months is a little spazzy but runs all over. Be their advocate and keep an eye open, but don't stress much yet my friend.

  9. I swore up and down I wouldn't compare and yet I do. Mine were full term and at 13 months are still not walking. BUT, the range of normal development for walking goes from 9-15ish months so there is still time. I definitely understand the anxiety, and my girl is much like yours in that she won't do something until its already been perfected.

  10. I'm so glad that you posted this Cristy. Although my situation is different, I have always worried about milestones b/c I had/have no idea what prenatal care actually was like for Moonbeam. I have had a lot of anxiety and worry over these things - and then I worry about how my anxiety is manifesting itself with Moonbeam.

    I have high expectations of myself and I think this translates into personal confidence issues. I have high expectations of Moonbeam and I want her to move at her own pace and never want her to feel low b/c she isn't meeting my expectations. I am starting to see how frustrated she gets when she can't get something right the first time and I wonder if this is normal toddler behaviour or is this because I am instilling this in her? Am I totally recreating the cycle and pushing low self-esteem on a perfectly healthy, happy child?

    My gut tells me that both He- and She-Beat are going to be just fine. That like every kid, they will have things they are superstars at and other things that are going to take a little time. I remember the 9-12 month period as being milestone-heavy, which may be contributing to your stress ... talking and walking are both around the corner and I think as moms, we can't help but wonder if our kids are going to be talking and walking right alongside the rest of them. It doesn't help when everyone around us is asking if they're walking or talking yet ... Moonbeam just started walking (at 15 1/2 months) and even those closest to me were asking me if I was concerned about developmental delays. Uh, ya, of course I am, I'm a mom. But seriously, back the eff off b****! (haha, but kind of not at the same time!)

    The stress is normal. Meeting milestones early, on time or late is normal. Having high expectations is normal and so is mama anxiety. Cristy, you're doing great. This is a great space to vent and to express your concerns ... because believe me, we're right here with you!

  11. My sons didn't start walking until 14 months and almost 18 months. They were both full term solo pregnancies. So don't worry too much. Easier said than done I know!!!

  12. If you're really concerned, ask your peds doc if EI is a recommendation, and if not, really truly honestly try not to stress about milestones. Kids do stuff in their own time, and something you'll think they're nowhere near doing they will sometimes do perfectly the next day. It's kind of insane!

  13. I hate milestones. I hate the stress associated with them. We've had our share of milestone madness, and I am not a fan. In fact, I've stopped reading about milestones for Cadet. So, you're not alone. I have learned to trust that children will do things in their own time....

  14. Every baby has its own learning curve. I rolled over from front to back at 1 month 3 days and then from back to front the very next day. But I didn't learn to walk until the end of my 13 month of life. For now I'll have no real expectations from my daughter in her first year except to hope that she responds to us some how.

  15. I wish that they didn't even have a scale to go by with milestones because every baby is so different. I know that I will find myself reading, comparing and going nuts when my twins get here. Remember to breathe mom... Talk to your babies doctor and see what they have to say.

  16. It sounds like you have nothing to worry about from your description. That said, I was worried about a developmental thing with the kid (now age 6, then about 8 months), and our doc took a wait and see approach, and then we waited and skipped the referral to the specialist because it was pretty close to normal. I was right, it was a problem, and it is still a problem only now with an additional 5 years being a problem... so if you're unsure after talking with the pediatrician or other appropriate person, then do get a referral to the right specialist. Mostly I try not to worry and mostly I think being fussed about milestones is overrated but sometimes it's worth looking into further, just in case. That said, I know two perfectly normal and successful adults who missed walking and potty training by a year over the usual age (respectively) and are none the worse for it. My parenting prime directive is "don't panic" and so far it has been successful enough.


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