"Isn't she walking yet?" -the stranger you see at the grocery store or the park as you hold your 25 pound child, sweat pouring and arms shaking.
"Oh! Just you wait! She'll be walking by this time next year!" -the well meaning friend who thinks they are giving you hope or assurance when you've told them again, that no, she's not walking yet.
"Just you wait- the second child does EVERYTHING faster!" -every person you encounter during your second pregnancy.
"This time next month- before you know it, she'll be running around everywhere and you will wish for these days again!" -the frazzled friend with the baby wonder who walks at 11 months and just wishes their baby would sit still so they can pee.
We've all seen them. We've read and memorized them so that we can know... that question that we live with every day especially in those earliest weeks, months and year;
Is my baby okay? Are they where they are SUPPOSED to be?
And according to this plan, and every other I have ever seen. No. My sweet, beautiful and amazing little joy Vivi is not. And we've been through the emotional wringer with it.
Starting at her one year checkup, we suddenly went from the parents with the baby who met or exceeded all expectations and milestones to suddenly there was a problem. She was behind. We were getting referred to Early Intervention for her physical delays.
Something about that 12 month mark left no wiggle room for individual development and the adages of "some babies just don't crawl- we don't really consider it a developmental milestone" to the implication of "She's not crawling at all? This could be a problem!"
So we started the process. We had preliminary evaluations where we told that she was not only behind in the gross motor skills we were referred to, but also in fine motor skills and social skills. This was determined after a half hour of a stranger sitting with Vivi telling and asking her to do things. Vivi was confused, Vivi was scared and she didn't understand why daddy was being silent and strong and mama kept blinking back the tears from her eyes.
Then the next evaluation. Thankfully one that was actually with a physical therapist and a speech therapist. They took more time, they reassured us. They allowed us to answer more than a yes or no. And thankfully, at the end of that evaluation, we had a clearer vision of where our Vivi was truly at where she was going. She was declared right where she "should be" with social and fine motor skills, but that she was being recommended for services for her gross motor skills.
We scheduled the first physical therapy appointment.
And suddenly, it was all real. My perfect, beautiful, musical, joyful and sweet baby girl needed physical therapy. And I cried out within myself... "What did I do wrong?" Did I baby her too much? Did I pick her up too fast and not push her hard enough? Did I not nourish her enough when I was pregnant? Is this because I didn't breast feed? Is this because I was too stressed and sick in the earliest stages of pregnancy? Did I not put her with other kids enough?
The questions, the self shame and the despair lingered for days and honestly seemed endless. I struggled daily to not pick up the phone and cancel the appointments because I wanted to pick her up, never let her go and just hide. Because to me, even if I had to carry her around at 10, 15 or 20 years old, she is perfection.
But I kept thinking about my baby girl. And our goals for her. We want her to be happy. We want her to know above all else in this world that she is always loved and we will walk to the ends of the earth to help her thrive and grow. So we kept moving forward. Because that is simply what the Hall family does. Keep moving forward.
We quietly started physical therapy in May with the support and love of my father, my mother and step-father in law and our friend (our family) Kristin by our side both physically emotionally. We were scared, we were hopeful and we were determined. Determined to do whatever it takes for Vivi to be the happiest she can be.
Fast forward a little over two months...
Vivi has gone from scooting backwards like a crawfish to try to get where she wants and crying in frustration to being able to full-on crawl with her body off of the floor.
Vivi has gone from shaking fear at the idea of bearing weight on her legs to willfully doing so while exclaiming "Yay!"
And Vivi has gone from sitting on the floor in despair that something she wanted was above her on the coffee table to pulling herself up on to her knees to get what she wants and smiling with pride and accomplishment every single time.
On the 6th of August she will be 19 months old. According the chart above, she should be walking alone.
What I know right now, is that on the 6th of August, she will at least be standing on her knees, crawling around and generally so happy. And I am so, so proud of her. She's worked hard. She's been through a lot.
She's not ready to stand yet, but in my mind, she's soaring. Keep moving forward baby girl. We got this.