Sunday, March 13, 2011

For the love of milestones

As a mom, you're repeatedly told not to compare your child to others. Everyone tells you this - your child's pediatrician, your husband, your best friend (whose child has hit EVERY milestone months early, as it happens), the stranger behind you in line at the grocery store. They tell you "every child develops at his or her own pace." The thing is, no one ever gives you that speech unless your child in fact appears to be behind. It's only after looking at your child and discovering that he or she should have been doing (insert milestone here) for months already and yet your child is obviously nowhere near (insert milestone here) yet, that the question of whether said milestone has been met is very hastily followed with an "oh, but every child develops at his or her own pace." Ask any mom and they'll confirm this very fact. It's our dirty little secret. We only give/get that peptalk if it looks like the child in question is not meeting milestones. I suppose it's the motherhood equivalent to the ridiculously patronizing "well as long as you think it looks nice, that's what's important, honey."

In any case, the directive not to compare your child to others is generally completely ignored by most parents. But I tell you, if you have a special needs child, you strictly follow that guideline. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's because your child has struggled with so many MAJOR issues that when he will meet milestones is the least of your concerns. Perhaps it's because you're tired of focusing on how your child is different than his peers and a milestone discussion reminds you of all the ways your child is different and for once you'd like to focus on what makes your child the same as everyone else. Perhaps it's simply because, as a special needs parent, you have enough bad news that permeates your world, you don't want to throw on any more.

So you throw the milestone chart out the window. And you watch your child. He develops at HIS pace. He meets his milestones on HIS time. And you rejoice when he meets Doesn't matter if it's early, right on time, or ridiculously late. In fact, the ridiculously late ones are perhaps the most celebrated of them all.

So I haven't really bothered to compare Bodie to his peers. I mean, how many of them have spent 4 1/2 of their first 5 months lying in a hospital bed, fighting for their life? How many of them have had their chest cut open and their heart stopped 3 times? How many of them were not allowed to eat for days at a time due to surgeries and procedures? So you see, trying to compare my son to other normal babies doesn't even make sense. Sometimes, if I really feel like I need to have a milestone discussion, I look at his time in the hospital like many look at the time between when a preemie was born and when he or she should have been born and adjust accordingly. I take the time spent in the hospital off of his life, to get an adjusted age approximately 4 1/2 months younger than he actually is. So right now, at almost 13 months old, he should be developmentally where a 9 1/2 month old is. Anything further along than that and he's a total rockstar and ahead of schedule! How do you like them milestones? (Yeah, I'm pretty sure I'm not allowed to do that - that's my other dirty little secret - but shhh, don't tell Bodie's therapists that - I'm pretty sure they're not working off my special "Bodie" milestone chart.)

Anyway, this is all to say I don't really pay much attention to milestones. I ask Bodie's therapists when I feel an undying urge to know where he's at developmentally, but other than that, I just watch Bodie and rejoice in the incredible progress we've seen in the last few months! (In fact, his progress in the past month or so has been really awesome to watch - his therapist told me last week that, were it not for his history and the fact that he was already getting services, if they were doing an initial assessment today based on what he's doing now, he is so caught up that he wouldn't even qualify for services!) With that said, this kid has had a BIG week. In addition to crawling everywhere these days...
(yes, that is out our front door - I did say everywhere, right?)
and pulling up on everything...
(the slide at the park)
This week, he started saying bye!!! (it's usually accompanied by a cute little wave, but he was a little preoccupied with Daddy's shoes, and his shoe obsession (Bodie's, not Daddy's) is for another post...) - oh, and this is a video, so click it to play :-)

AND he started blowing kisses!!! (SO excited about this one - we've been working on this for a while!) AND, our great friend Erika gave us some blocks for the kids to play with earlier this week. Bodie was whining before dinner, so I put him in the highchair, dumped a couple blocks on his tray and turned around to start on dinner. I turned back around a couple seconds later to find the blocks STACKED! I was a bit dumbfounded, since I was pretty sure I had not stacked them on the tray when I put them there. Sure enough, little man is now stacking blocks!!! WOW... (this is also a video, so click to play)

Oh, and for the record, stacking 3-4 blocks (which is what he's doing now) is a 15-18 month milestone, but who's counting? :-)



  1. Stacking blocks? Really? Great, now I'll have to work on that with Zoe :) While reading your post, I pictured Bodie crawling all the way to the park! Someday, he'll be running there, with you trying to catch up to him.

  2. You know, we never really thought Travis was "behind" at all. We had nothing to compare him too. With Addie now we are thinking she is either super advanced or we just didn't realize how much his health effected his development. Addie can hold herself up by holding onto my two fingers. She is so strong. The difference is so strange!

  3. I love your attitude, I have heard and or gave that little blurb about mile stones many times and I am realizing that IT DOESN"T matter as long as they reach them at some point. I can't wait to chart JJ's milestones as I did my Emily's but I will try hard not to look in her book to see how he's doing compared to her. I'm so glad that Bodie is doing great you guys are an inspiration <3

  4. Great post!! It's funny, with my first son (heart healthy) I obsessed over milestones and had all the "charts" memorized.

    However, with Mason, I've done like you and just rejoiced in his life and am letting him show us when he wants to do things!

    Four blocks is amazing!!!

  5. I love it! It is hard not to compare and especially when you have older kids that met all their milestones...on chart time. I have learned to take everything one day at a time and realize that Hope has spent a lot of time in the hospital and does get tired a lot faster. It definitely makes a difference. We have also noticed that where her gross motor skills are very behind...her fine motor skills are is something her PT has shared with us when I broke down and cried because I felt like such a crappy parent because she is so far behind.

  6. What a great post! I agree with you that we cannot compare our kiddos to normal kiddos. It just isn't a fair comparison. I too also did not stress over the milestones. I just celebrated them as they happened! Blessings!!

  7. Amy I love this post. I have to say that our PT does count the way you so. She says they don't count the time they spend in the hospital because they are not getting to work on developing these skills. So she has always taken 2 months off of what she looks for Jake to be doing. So your right! Bodie is a rockstar! Love you guys!