How to Cope with not Meeting Milestones

April 13, 2016

When your child hits milestones, it is one of the greatest feelings in the world. We all get excited, jump up and down, and share the news with pretty much everyone we know.

When you have a preemie in the NICU or just home from the NICU, what happens? Do they still hit those milestones? Do they accomplish them later? What can you do if they aren’t meeting milestones, how do you cope?

milestones NICU preemie baby

Milestones were huge for us in our house, but I will tell you that they did not come easy and were not accomplished in the normal time frame. So how do you deal with it?

preemie NICU milestones

Having twins made everything that much more difficult for me. We had one twin that met her milestones ahead of target, but her sister, who spent a lot of time in the NICU and came home much later, didn’t meet her milestones until much later. It was really hard to cope with.

As a parent, I thought, “What am I doing wrong? Why they aren’t meeting those milestones? What can I do to handle those setbacks?”

For us it was all about just making sure that she was progressing, no matter how little or how great the progress was. Anything was better than nothing. Kendall went through our local Help me Grow program, and it really helped ease our worries as well. They would be concerned about she was doing, and then a month later she would hit that milestone. It may have been a month behind; however, she would always seem to hit the milestones.

After several months of this happening, we quickly realized that Kendall was going to be a very independent person, and she would eventually hit all her milestones. But she would be doing so on her own terms.

Parents also like to push their kids to hit those milestones. A lot of times kids won’t be quite ready for those things, and they will push and push until they reach it. In our case it was something we couldn’t do. With Kendall being so tiny and making little progress, we knew that everything was going to take time. Eventually most kids will hit their milestones, and it all just takes time. When they are ready to hit them, they will get there.

former preemie twins NICU milestones

Here are some ways to cope with not meeting the “normal” milestones:

  • Don’t stress – The baby can sense your stress and could possibly prolong the milestone even more.
  • Don’t force it – Each child is different and will hit their milestones at different times. Relax and wait for it to happen on its own.
  • Get excited! – When things do happen, get excited about it! Show your child that you love what they are doing and that they have taken a step in the right direction.
  • Therapy – Don’t be afraid of therapy. We used Help me Grow, and they were wonderful. They were patient and kind and knew she would eventually get there. Therapy can be a great thing.
  • Talk with someone – NICU stays can be stressful, and you should always have someone you can talk to about everything. Matt (my husband) was my rock, and I always talked to him when I was feeling stressed or like things were going in the wrong direction.
  • Don’t compare your child to anyone else’s – Each child is different and hits milestones at different times, so please don’t compare your children because it will never be the same.

Overall, NICU stays and transitioning to being at home can be very stressful and time consuming, and you will worry about more than you should. TRUST ME! The above bullet points are a way to relax a little more and know that everything will eventually be alright, no matter what direction things will take your life. Milestones are that, they are an estimate of when those things should happen not when they will happen.