I believe in my heart that he is a perfectly normal, healthy baby. His little smile, his perfectly round angel face, the way I can swear his gibberish sounds like “I love you.” But it’s so hard not to worry.
No one ever told me becoming a parent came with endless paranoia. It started the day I brought him home, partly because I wasn’t exactly sure how to take care of him. Then, when I finally had myself convinced the things I thought were wrong were all in my head, my anxiety over his small size was confirmed when his weight gain dropped off in July. He went from gaining 6+ ounces per week to 1 once per week. Then last month, the development experts decided he is a bit behind on his large motor skills. At 6 ½ months the most he could do was roll over 1 way occasionally and sit with support. No crawling, cruising, rolling both ways, or sitting alone.
Since July we have been in for weight checks every 3-4 weeks. I started eating more fatty foods, we added solid food to his diet, and fortified the expressed bottles he was receiving with formula (under the doctor’s supervision for quantity). He was doing better come September, but still lagging. We met with a nutritionalist who helped us with the quantity of fat (yes, butter and veggie oil) to add to his solid food. Finally, at the weight check last week, the little scale meter had good news. He’s up to 14 pounds, 6 ounces at 7 ½ months. That’s a gain of over 3 ounces per week since September! I knew he was doing better because he’s almost too big for the 3-6 size sleepers now.
The weekend after my call with the development specialist, he was suddenly able to sit without support too!
It was very exciting. We continue to work with him in our play, placing him in a seated position for practice while he examines blocks or presses buttons on a toy that lights up. We move him around from sitting, to all fours (which he still needs help with), or standing. We have gradually been able to help him stand while holding on to a chair now, as long as we’re there to catch him when he falls.
My anxieties have eased considerably in the last month, due partly to the fact that he has made such great progress, and party to the fact that I finally admitted half of my anxiety was irrational, and getting worse instead of better. I have late-onset postpartum depression. I contacted my doctor, and she, along with our pediatrician and the physiologist, decided I need medicine and assured me that Zoloft is safe for breastfeeding. Now that I am being treated, I feel much better and am able to be there for my son to help him with his development. Turns out studies show terrible developmental outcomes for children whose mothers have untreated depression, especially for little boys.
Some anxiety about your child’s health and development is perfectly normal. So how do you know when you need to seek help, for you or your child? If you really stop and think, you know. I knew my child was behind in weight gain before they told me. I knew he was not growing out of his clothes as fast, and I knew he was colicky for a reason when I was having undiagnosed over-production of milk. If I would have listened to my instincts, we could have caught it sooner. And I know he is fine now with his development, because he is moving forward, making progress in all areas, and is a very happy baby these days! It just may not be on the same timeline as all the other babies. I knew my own stress and sadness for having to go back to work and over his weight gain was normal too, but I also knew it wasn’t normal two months later to feel worse and sad all the time even when the situation was getting better.
The key is to act upon what you know. Stop worrying and enjoy your baby, but don’t ignore a problem with your child or yourself. And if you’re not sure, ask your doctor. In most cases, it will ease your fears. And if something is wrong it’s better to catch it sooner than later.
A YEAR AGO: ULTRASOUND TIME!
Not much earlier than this time last year was a very exciting time for tracking his development during pregnancy. It was finally time for the big ultrasound! We’d had a “little” one before in the doctor’s office, just to see the heartbeat, but this one would be able to see allot more, hopefully including the sex. We were very nervous… even then we had fears about normal development, and we wanted badly to know the sex. My husband has always wanted a son, and though we would have both been happy with a daughter, I wanted a son too because I didn’t want my husband to ask for another child later on!
The procedure went beautifully. He looked perfect as the nurse pointed out features like feet, arms, and face. He even waved to us on the screen! She confirmed the due date based on his size, told us everything looked normal, and asked if there was anything else we wanted to see.
Well, yes, we said. Is it a boy or girl!?! She tried to show us, but we had no idea what we were looking at. After much suspense, she finally let us know. It’s a boy! My husband cried. Before returning to work after the appointment, we sat outside the hospital for at least 20 minutes calling everyone we knew.
When I saw that little boy on the ultrasound, and was able to call him by name, it was the first time he seemed real to me.