Last week we talked about comparisons. About what your child is eating, and when.
This week, we're discussing comparing again, because it is a huge deal.
I'm not talking about comparative suffering - I'm talking about simple mom-to-mom talk and discussions.
We see it everywhere, on mom groups, in playdates, even just simple text message conversations.
Most of the time it's harmless, unintentional curiosity. But almost always it is damaging.
A little back story - Adam got the common cold around 5 months old. We were pros at tummy time at this point. We put a gym mat on the hospital floor, and a clean sheet over top, so that Adam could continue to develop and play as best as the situation allowed him to, but in a hospital setting, tethered to the wall by a suction tube.
We made it work. We brought in books, toys, a cute Finding Nemo activity centre with lights and sounds.
However, when Adam got sick, we pulled him off of the hospital floor and said absolutely not. Because even something as regular as a common cold is a huuuuuge deal when you're in a hospital and everything is monitored microscopically.
Adam no longer did tummy time.
We got his surgery date soon after, and kept him in a bubble. He stayed in his isolation/ private room, no visitors, nurses had to gown up, absolutely no leaving his crib to play on the floor… we had him quarantined so nothing would get in the way of his surgery.
Obviously after surgery he didn't have tummy time. We weren't putting him back on the hospital floor.
Plus he had a new button Gtube we didn't want to put pressure on.
When we went home, we tried tummy time ...Adam was now 8+ months old, this is vital development time!!!! However, we couldn't do it because the pressure on his stomach would cause reflux and we didn't want that.
So ….we were recommended an in-home occupational therapist. This was a huge pill for me to swallow. As a teacher I assure my student's parents that therapy is a good thing and it will only help!
...But I couldn't take my own advice. I couldn't admit that Adam was behind at something, and needed help. We did though, and I am glad that we did. Because it pushed me to keep pushing him, more than I would have. Instead of just staying "oh he'll catch up" we both worked so that he did, and he did so very quickly and very well.
The point is…
Adam barely crawled. He was stuck on his back from month 5-8 for the reasons above. He missed out on vital developmental practices. While most kids are doing tummy time, we're keeping him in one spot so he's at his healthiest for lifesaving surgery.
People don't know that.
So when they ask me "hows tummy time?" Or "when did Adam start crawling"
He didn't. We worked for weeks with an OT to get him crawling and redevelop those muscles and skills.
Adam finally started to crawl near the end of our time with the OT. He skipped the army crawl stage, and went straight to standing up and cruising.
Within a week, he was walking.
Not your typical journey.
Sounds great right?! Nope. Apparently those muscles they work while crawling are important for development to aid in their walking and standing…. Yeah whatever. I was happy my kid was walking.
The thing is - now Adam runs, jumps, swings, rolls, spins - everything. Just. Fine. Perfectly. Normal.
It is irrelevant to anyone else when, why, and how.
No one is going to ask your child on the playground "hey when did you start to crawl" or "how old were you when you began to walk"
It's irrelevant. Do not stress about it! If there is something delaying your child significantly, your paediatrician will notice and tell you. It's not up to mom groups to inadvertently shame you into thinking your child is less or is achieving less than theirs.
We need to focus on what our children CAN do and not what they are not doing.
The same thing goes with eating.
Everyone asks about the start date for purees, baby led weaning, whole foods, milk, a sippy cup…
Curiosity gets the best of us, but it's also comparison and shaming whether we realise it or not.
Mom's put pressure on each other and it's damaging!
Each baby will reach these milestones in their own time.
Just because Karen over there is feeding her kid bananas with the peel on as part of her BLW practice, doesn't mean that Susan is in the wrong for cutting her kid's banana into smaller pieces.
The fact of the matter is, both kids are eating. So Karen needs to keep her opinion and her self righteous feeding regime to herself.
If you're feeling pressure or stress about any of these things, please reach out to us. We promise you that we will be nothing but motivating and supportive. We've guided a lot of friends through these stages - comparison is the last thing you need to stress about. We've got you.
Most of the time spent at a hospital, is time that you do not want to spend at a hospital.
In fact, 100% of the time there, I could think of a million other places that I'd rather be.
However, aside from the obvious moments of when your son's surgeon comes out after a successful procedure, or finding out your baby's esophagus grew a miraculous, unexplainable amount in a matter of weeks... there are still moments, and people that are worth remembering, and looking back on and smiling,
These are our moments...
Our biggest moment, living in the hospital, was the very first time we were able to take Adam out of his room - the obs room. He needed constant observation, so we didn't even have a private room the majority of our stay. He also needed constant suction through his replogle to clear his secretions or he would choke. So he was always attached to the suction in the wall.
We were however able to take mobile suction units and go for walks, or hang out on the hallway of our floor - with a nurse at first, and then without one (as long as we stayed on the floor).
The first time we got to do this, was amazing. Seeing Adam see daylight for the first time, looking out the big windows, seeing the sun and the clouds, the cars and the people. It was amazing,
It taught us that we should never take anything for granted, and to appreciate the little things, for they are big things. These moments, so simple, that everyone overlooks, were so monumental and big for us. A lesson that we will always remember, and often to this day still reflect upon.
Another moment that deserves mention, is many moments put into one. My two aunts would travel hours to come and visit Adam and I once a week, every single week, without fail, no matter the weather. They would bring lunch and just sit and visit, and chat. I'd cry, they'd force me to eat. They helped me survive. I am forever grateful and thankful for them.
My Cousin worked down the road, and he too would visit weekly. It got to the point where he knew my pumping schedule and would grab me a cookie and a coffee, and come up when I was done to spend some time with me and Adam. Often sweating in his suit, he'd stay and visit. It was an easy decision for us to make him and his Fiancee Adam's Godparents.
In this picture is that cousin and his fiancee (Adam's Godparents), his parents (my Godparents) and brother, as well as my parents and my brother. These are our people. This is what family looks like. The people who are there for you no matter what, no matter when. The people who show up the morning after you give birth, who wait outside the hospital during surgery and procedures. Who make you fresh sandwiches and drive them down on a Wednesday in the rain. Who take five different public transit vehicles to visit you. Who drag you out to eat and get you drunk on an entire pitcher of sangria, leaving you with the nurses who think it's hilarious and well deserved.
This is our home team. We'd get together monthly, usually on the 13th (Adam was born on the 13th of April) and we would go to dinner, to celebrate another month down, another month closer to home.
These are the people in our happy memories. The people who made our time there bearable, survivable.
My other two aunts deserve the biggest mention in the world as well, because they visited more than anyone else, and I can never ever thank them enough. Our family is what got us through.
I think of happy memories at the hospital, and I think of these people and these moments.
Kayla mentioned, there is nothing more important than a support system when you’re living in a hospital. Like Kayla my family was a huge support system for me but so with the family in the bedside next to us.
As I mentioned earlier, I became very close with the mom beside me in the NICU with Theo. Stephanie has been such an inspiration to me and a huge support in my life over the last 4 1/2 years. She always knows what to say, can make a joke even in the most difficult situations, and has the kindest heart. There were so many dark days in the NICU but there were also some positive memories. Here is a picture of one of our nurses holding our babies together. This was such a special moment for us because despite being so physically close together, we had never been side-by-side with our babies. It was so wonderful to have our babies side-by-side as it allowed us to do what so many new moms do together - take a picture of their babies side-by-side. Every time I see this picture I tear up and remember that magical moment.
Attached is a picture of us celebrating Canada Day in the 5B hallway at SickKids. It was a beautiful day and we are both so bummed about our situation and living in the hospital. I went out and got some cute Canada Day clothes for the babies and we had a blast taking family pictures.
Another amazing memory is when the therapy clown would sing to us. When we were both in the 5B floor at SickKids, we’d make “play dates” where we would hold our babies at a particular time and the clown will come and sing to us. We had so much fun with the clown and it not only calmed the babies, but brought so much joy to us. We would joke all the time that Stephanie’s daughter Naya and Theo were boyfriend and girlfriend and the clown would play at their wedding. These moments may seem small and insignificant but these POSITIVE memories while living through the thick of it will last a lifetime.
Lastly one of my favorite memories of when Theo was in the hospital was the FIRST time I got to walk with him! Despite still being hooked up to many tubes and wires, with the help of our nurse, we carefully placed him in a baby carrier and I was able to stroll around the hospital and GO OUTSIDE - this was a HUGE sept for me as it allow me to really feel like a mom <3
To navigate our blog, you can scroll through the posts, or if you're looking for something specific - you can click on a category below & it will take you to related posts! • k&j