“Wait!” and then, “no, this way!” is all I seem to be yelling now once my son and I are out the door in the morning. I am trying to rush him to the car, but, as is the case with most toddlers, he has a mind of his own. He almost always heads for the yard instead of the car. “Stick!” he will proudly exclaim, holding said object and waving it around proudly. I must admit I have to try very hard to stop myself from yelling “hurry up! we’re late” even though I am almost always running late. When you’ve waited this long for your child to walk, you really can’t bring yourself to tell them to “hurry up,” can you? I mean, did you ever imagine the day you’d be telling him to “hurry up”?
While I did long for that day, I also began to worry when my former 29-weeker was not walking by the age of 2. He had an MRI done earlier on that had ruled out any brain abnormalities and, yet, none of the specialists who evaluated him could specify why my preemie was not walking. It was not until a few months before his 3rd birthday that he did start walking on his own.
This very important milestone was met with many cheers, and tears, by his therapists and daycare teachers. I not only cried tears of relief, but also cried some tears of resentment, because I was not there to witness his first steps in person. I was at work and he was at daycare. Just as I always knew it would be! However, thanks to an extremely thoughtful daycare teacher, I do have a video of him walking for the first time that she recorded. Although, not quite the same as witnessing him walk in-person, it was almost as awesome to open my email at work and see the video. And for a little while this video became the only proof we had that my son was indeed walking independently since that little stinker would not walk for us at home right away!
I do think my preemie walked first, and continued to walk mostly, at daycare because he was really motivated by his toddler friends. He has one friend in particular, a stocky little guy, who would hold my son’s hand and help him balance whenever they needed to walk somewhere. It wasn’t long before my son let go and was walking on his own!
Therefore, if you’re the parent of a preemie who is not walking yet, please, do not be discouraged! I know, easier said than done, right? My hope in sharing my preemie’s story is so you don’t feel as though your preemie is the only one who is either not walking yet, or not talking yet. Or maybe your preemie is not crawling yet. My little guy did not crawl or sit up on his own until he was 16-months old. Once again, we all must remind ourselves that every child is different and they all do things in their own time.
We also should remind ourselves that there is a blessing in waiting. What that blessing is for me is learning patience. And taking time to stop and…pick up some sticks!