With a micro-preemie, I am used to bringing up the rear of the pack (even in the preemie realm). Charlie does not register on the growth charts, she is behind in her developmental milestones, and transitions slowly through out the day. I have become so accustomed to our slow pace that I saw a turtle crossing the road and remarked how quickly it moved.
On some days, things crawl and I wonder if we will ever make it to the next goal. However, Charlie will frequently do something unexpected that makes me smile, beam with pride, and erases all doubt.
Charlie was in utero the first time it happened. While I was hospitalized, her heart beat was checked each time my vitals were recorded. The nurses pointed out that Charlie kicked back every time they placed the Doppler on her. One nurse said, “Usually, the babies swim away when we do this. It is funny that she kicks back.”
When Charlie was born, she screamed the entire way to the NICU. The doctors warned us that she would be too sick to cry.
Those surprises were only the beginning. There have been many moments when she has unexpectedly squared up to a challenge, beat out her sensory issues with her curiosity, or reached milestones in her own way (her first word was “Yay!”). All of these things make me grin, chuckle, and appreciative of the little human that is growing before me.
One of such events occurred today. A warm downpour had started while we were finishing an afternoon at the park. Instinctively, my husband quickly pulled the rain proof cover over Charlie’s stroller. I said, “Let her feel the rain… it will be a good sensory experience.” He cautiously pulled back the cover. We both watched Charlie and waited for her reaction.
Charlie extended her arms and turned her palms up. Next, she opened her mouth and stuck out her tongue. Finally, she clapped her hands and started laughing.
As a micro-preemie parent, I find that I take pleasure in the strangest things. While I appreciate (and am grateful for) each milestone she attains, I find more delight in the Charlie specific things… such as learning to dance before she can stand, trying to sing before she can talk, or just laughing in the rain. For it is when she does those things, I no longer wonder about milestones. I know that all this baby needs is time.
A picture from Charlie in the rain today. It is blurry because I had water on the lens.