Remember your first visit to the pediatrician where your child receives their first “grades?” He is in the “X” percentile for height and the “Y” percentile for weight. Some moms might feel like they are at the head of the class. “You, Mrs. Jones get an A+! You must have religiously taken your prenatals! Good job!” My experience was more like getting detention. “Your child is in the 15th percentile for weight. (I heard “You must not be breastfeeding” – go directly to jail and do not pass go). Luckily for me, I’ve never been one to take criticism well so I simply smiled, left the doctor’s office and went straight home to burn the entire “What to Expect” series of books that had been passed along by my friends or gifted to me at my baby shower.
My son wasn’t meeting his developmental milestones. And being a first-time mother, I didn’t think there was anything wrong with that.
Phoenix had no neck strength. He constantly held his head back and seemed to look up all the time. What was my reaction when my mom pointed it out as a possible problem? I told her he sees angels. I thought maybe my nana was in the room, or Jesus. Or angels were all around us. I still don’t discount the theory by the way.
He didn’t smile by 3 months of age. Hmmm, he must be very serious. He did smile at four months and has turned out to have a very funny sense of humor, thank God!
He didn’t grab for the doctor’s stethoscope. I pointed out that it must not be a “toy” he found interesting.
Because he was so small, I truly felt that he just had catching up to do. Looking back, it was truly a blessing that I didn’t have other children to compare him to. I was worried about him, but I didn’t lose sleep or get a prescription for antidepressants over it. My coping mechanism was the decision I made NOT to judge my son by anyone’s standards but his own. Ahhhh, a lesson. And thus, a piece of advice to mothers of special needs children, and by special needs, this could apply to all of them couldn’t it? Don’t we all have different and special needs? I know I don’t like to be compared to others, especially in a negative way. While developmental milestones are important and not to be ignored, they should be put in proper perspective. And I didn’t disregard the pediatrician’s advice when she referred him to therapy at 4 months of age.
Find a balance that works for you! Remember to take it one day at a time. Find support – you are not the first and you won’t be the last to have this experience. If you have a newborn not meeting milestones, I’ve been there and I’m 10 years ahead of you on the spectrum so trust me when I say that your child is a gift. Your child is the way he/she is for a reason.