Tess does this thing when she’s tired where her eyes move the way those blinking doll’s eyes move: they close when you lay her down and open when you pick her up. It always makes me laugh, and mom saw it the other day and was entranced, too. Super funny! Our little blinker is 8 pounds 10 ounces now – so the 34th percentile for her adjusted age of 1 month. She’s doing so well, the pediatrician doesn’t want to see her for another month! This of course excludes the lovely eye doctor check-ups, but Tess is pretty much breaking all the rules by being healthy as a horse. and no, we’ll boast but not get cocky: she’s still building an immune system from scratch.
We got booted out of our child development program (they can’t see her until she’s 1 due to their waiting list and took 4 months to tell us that) and signed up for the other one in town. To be honest, dealing with the first was impossible: they never answered the phone, never told the referring hospital they had a miles-long waiting list or that we needed to contact them and not the other way around, never sent the forms we needed to enroll…so we’re trusting our now quite experienced preemie medical guts and going with the program that is punctual, responsive and quick to fit us in. After all, our child is developing now! If she has learning issues, coordination problems, etc. The best thing for her is to be seen and treated – not to be told months later that problems have cropped up. The pediatrician is convinced she’ll need little intervention, but we’d rather play it safe.
I remember trying to map out all possible parental decisions ahead of time. I have a planning compulsion. Let me assure you, the reality is so much more ridiculous than anything I could have organized! When you’re hypothetically planning parenthood, you forget to write in the infertility (our scrambled eggs and headless horsemen as Dave recently put it, shocking the 4 middle-aged men he shared with!), the adoption matches that aren’t right for you – especially when going in, you think any child would be a blessing!, the premature birth possibility, the medical follow-up, the nanny/daycare/stay-home question and how all preconceived notions about those options goes out the door the minute you get home with your sweet pea, the guilt and exhaustion you think you will somehow escape through organization and magic…the list could go on forever, I’m learning.
So I’m doing something drastic and out-of-character that makes me feel like I’m careening wildly on the edge of a
precipice on a motorcycle: I’m living in the moment as much as possible. I’m not counting every day of Tess’ life and measuring her progress in teaspoons and grains of sand. I’m not researching the best games/toys/interactions to increase her brain size based on hours of life. I’m not fighting her natural sleep schedule to put her on the most-researched type of routine. In fact, on a given day I don’t remember how old she is exactly without checking this blog.
We talk to her in French and English, sing songs to her when we feel like it, hold her and rock her and feed her based on a weird amalgam of her schedule and ours, and sometimes even put her to sleep in the clothes she was wearing that day! We use binkies that look clean, run them through the dishwasher regularly but not daily, let the dog sniff her, go in public with her where we have some semblance of control over her stroller’s placement, and leave her with a sitter.
Now I’m not saying we’re living dangerously. You know we’ve vetted the nanny/sitter, carefully chosen the few restos we go to with her in tow, make sure she gets regular tummy time and have a detailed list of questions for the pediatrician every visit. Still, I’m an extremist, and have chosen to try the other extreme for a while. I may even be getting the hang of it. And when I start to hyperventilate, I think of how my generation was raised and all of the things our parents did “wrong” – and unless I miss my mark completely, we all survived just fine.