Thursday, January 17, 2008
The entire time I was pregnant with my son, I questioned whether or not I was really cut out to be someone's mother. I didn't think I had the heart, the ability, or the personality to raise a child who would grow up feeling loved, nurtured, and protected. I had myself convinced of this, up until the very moment he was placed in my arms for the first time. After that, I knew. I knew that all of my worrying had been for naught. In fact, I was convinced that I was put on this earth to be a mother - to be THIS baby boy's mother. For so long I had struggled with wanting to know what my role in this lifetime was supposed to be, and on that day in that recovery room my wondering stopped. I made a silent vow to that baby in those first few precious moments to love him more than anyone else in the world, to protect him, to teach him, to give him the best life possible.
So today, at his 15-month checkup, imagine my surprise when the doctor told us that he's currently maturing a bit slowly. He has gone from the 65th and 70th percentiles for weight and growth to the 25th percentile for both. His soft spot is still open. His speech apparently isn't what it should be (?), and he's still not walking independently. He communicates with us - he does talk, but apparently the lack of phonetecism is something that the doctor wants us to keep an eye on. Walking is officially a 15-month milestone, and when the doctor asked if the baby was running all over, I imagine I had a bit of the deer-in-the-headlights look on my face, and I told him that, while the baby does take 6 or 7 or 8 steps on his own, he's still primarily crawling and not walking independently. So we're keeping an eye on things.
Mother guilt being what it is, in all its infinite, never-ending, round-the-clock glory, set in and immediately made me place the blame on myself. What in the world have I done wrong? I've always considered myself a fairly intelligent woman - am I not smart enough to teach my son correctly? From day one I've interacted with him as though he were my peer - always carrying on conversations - NEVER doing the baby-talk thing (drives me nuts when people try to baby talk to him even now - he looks at them like they're stupid)...we've read to him since he was 2 months old. I don't know a mom who gets down on the floor and plays with her child more than I have and still do. We read almost constantly during the day. Plunk my kid down in front of the television at 15 months old? Never. Not in this house. We value human interaction in this family, and he has never shown any kind of interest in the television, anyway. Is it because I didn't breastfeed beyond 3 months? My body physically stopped producing milk due to a thyroid disorder - that one wasn't my call, and to this day it kills me to think about the physical and emotional benefits that were lost.
I'm at a loss. If, at his 18-month checkup, things haven't progressed much, then, I imagine, the real concern will set in. I don't know what else I can possibly do. Is it because he doesn't have a great deal of interaction with other kids? Well, isn't it that way for most only children who aren't daycare babies? We don't have friends or acquaintances here with children anywhere near the same age group as my son, and playgroups seem to be nonexistent in our area.
Please don't excuse my worries for anything other than concern over his well-being. I'm not the kind of mother who will be devastated if her son winds up having some kind of delay because it's a burden, or it's embarassing, or it's extra work or money for her - and I have met people like that and frankly, they make me ill. I don't want him having struggles and a hard time growing up because he might wind up being a little behind his friends. I don't want kids making fun of him. Kids are awfully cruel, and I'd hate for my baby to be the punchline of someone's joke, the object of someone else's pointed finger.
If they day hadn't started off swimmingly enough, we find out that he has a symptom or two of certain metabolic disorders and diabetes. So now I'm trying to collect a urine sample from a child still in diapers. Imagine a codpiece - this is what the specimen collector looks like. It's very sticky and adheres to his boy parts - ouch - and is too small to collect anything. So that's been fun. The doctor assures us there's nothing to worry about, but wants to run the tests just to be cautious. So waiting for that news will be joyous.
I'm sure that I'm just being a typical worried mom. I'm sure he'll catch up to where he's supposed to be. He's beautiful, he's healthy, he's so much fun to be around, and most importantly, he's loved and he knows he's loved.
I wonder when Motherhood: The Manual will be published?