Baby Milestones: A Roller Coaster of Emotions
According to Google, my baby should be starting to show signs of teething around now. Six months, it seems, is the “normal” age at which a baby “should” cut his first tooth.
My son, however, is seven months, and, unless you count the buckets of drool he’s been producing for the last few months as progress, he’s nowhere near hitting this milestone.
I’d be lying if I told you this didn’t make me anxious.
That’s the thing about milestones. For each one, there’s an “average” time your baby “should” reach them. And sometimes it happens on time, but, as is so often the case, kids don’t do things by the book.
As a result, milestones can cause us to feel so many different emotions. I’ve only been a parent for seven months, and I’ve already experienced everything from being completely overjoyed to seriously anxious and worried.
Take for example, the first time my son smiled. It was a moment of pure joy and I even cried a little bit. After nine months of pregnancy, labor, childbirth and those trying first few weeks, (as so many parents know) that reciprocation of love from your baby means so much. Likewise, watching my son roll over for the first time brought my husband and I so much pride. It was one of the first things that he had figured out and done completely on his own.
However, on the flip side, a seemingly innocent Facebook post has caused me to feel a completely different set of emotions. When I see that a friend’s baby (who is younger than mine!) has reached a new milestone before my son, I can’t help but feel a little sad and sometimes even a twinge of jealousy. Why isn’t my son developing as quickly?…Is it something I’ve done?…Is it something I did or didn’t do while pregnant?…Will he ever sleep through the night?…What if he never gets teeth? (Ok, I’m exaggerating on this last one, but you get the point.)
And then, somewhere in between, there’s also that feeling of anticipation and excitement that happens when you can tell that your baby is nearing a milestone. My son, Beckett, is so close to crawling right now that I assume he can taste it. He gets up on all fours, rocks back and forth, in a move that one can only describe as a downward dog. Occasionally he moves one leg forward and then collapses on the floor. My husband and I spend our nights on the floor with him, putting toys just out of reach with the hope that he’ll want the toys so badly that he’ll forgo his downward dog move and crawl over to them. It has yet to happen but we’ll be waiting with bated breath until the moment he does.
I’d venture a guess to stay that I’m probably not the only new parent who’s experienced all these highs and lows, right? Especially with the internet and social media, it’s so easy to compare and contrast and forget that each baby is unique. (For example, not all babies wake up on their half birthday with a tooth cutting through their gums. Ahem. Duly noted.).
In all the time that I’ve spent thinking about my son’s development, here is what I’ve realized is important and worth focusing on: a baby reaches each milestone when he or she is supposed to and, being a month off from what is considered “average” certainly isn’t the end of the world. And sitting around googling and questioning why smiling, laughing, rolling over, sitting up, crawling, walking and every other milestone isn’t happening exactly when you predicted it to is a waste of time. Instead, take that time and focus on all of the amazing things that are happening now.
I, for one, am going to try and take my own advice. So, if you need to find me, I’ll be enjoying my son’s toothless grins and downward dogs while I still can.