When Audrey was a newborn, we over-used the phrase “she’s just a baby”. Because at that time, her needs were not very different to those of her peers. She felt different (floppier) and she had a cannula on her face for oxygen, but aside from that… It was still all naps, boob, nappies, bottle, cuddles…
Audrey was actually the first from the NCT crew to roll from her back to her front. At that point I thought she’d probably hit all the milestones within weeks of her baby friends. I was sure we had a baby with Down’s Syndrome that would out-perform any other.
Soon they were all rolling… And then Audrey was a bit behind on sitting up and holding her bottle/feeding herself. Then they were all crawling/bum-shuffling and she’s finally mastered sitting up, but even so, she wasn’t that far behind. But before you know it, they are all walking. They are all saying words; “Mama”, “Bye bye”, “Down”, “Dog”. Their hands are very purposeful… there is a marked difference.
Of course, all of the NCT mums are great. They play down their child’s achievements; “Oh he’s still not that steady on his feet..” or “He says ‘Mama’ for everything”, but bless them, their kiddies are doing what they should be doing and these are exciting milestones. I’m pleased for all of them that they have toddlers (bizarrely I have a toddler, but she doesn’t toddle). I’m (at times) genuinely relieved I don’t have to run after a walker yet. But of course there’s a little ‘pang’ there. I’d love for Audrey to be running around with her friends. I’d love for her to purposefully grab the drum and hit it with conviction (rather than some tentative taps here and there). But at the same time, I feel… Ok. I feel… like Audrey’s slow pace and our expectations mean that every little new thing she does is so exciting.
The gap has widened and that’s a bit scary, but in many respects, it’s not as hard as I thought it would be.
Today I watched Audrey cuddle a teddy, hand it to the speech and language therapist (who would then have a cuddle and pass it back), cuddle it again and so on. I just sat there thinking “she’s so clever!”. In fact, there isn’t a day goes by where I don’t think “she’s so clever”. She amazes me everyday.
I have taken her to a music class these past two weeks and sat there, filled with pride. She just loves music so much and she dances so creatively and enthusiastically. I basically sit there wanting everyone to look at my daughter, because she is the greatest dancer.
We also go to a weekly special needs group (where she cuddled the teddy) and Audrey works on development. She achieves something new every week. She always makes me proud. This week, she finally made a choice. They always offer the kiddies two toys and make them choose – Audrey would always either shake her head and refuse or just sit there blankly. Finally, this week she selected the maracas over the sparkly stick and then boy oh boy did she shake those maracas!!
I still kind of have to pinch myself about all this… that baby that popped out as a complete surprise… all those worries… all the negative thoughts… she makes me so happy and so proud. And every day I tell her how much I love her and how clever she is. Amazing.