For several months, now, we’ve been waiting for Piper to start moving around more. In her early months, we would joke about how she was still in “houseplant mode,” i.e. she’d stay wherever you put here. (It was, however, a version of “houseplant mode” for houseplants who occasionally yell a lot and require blueberries.) For the last couple of months, however, we’ve been watching friends’ babies born around the same time or even months later. They’re rolling over, they’re army-crawling, they’re halfway hoisting themselves up to cruise a little… meanwhile, Piper’s still sitting where we put her and occasionally toppling forward when she overbalances reaching for a toy. She’s rolled 4 times in her life, total, and each time by accident. Happy kid, waves her arms and legs around, loves to eat avocado: sits as reliably as our jade plant.
Kate’s chart of developmental milestones says that 90% of kids are rolling over by the time they’re six months old. By the time Piper hit seven and then eight months, Kate was suggesting we call Early Intervention to find out what the deal was. Remembering family stories about my incredibly late speech development and having become somewhat resistant to worrying about medical developments in the last year, I shrugged and said I figured she was simply developing at her own pace. “She’ll roll over eventually,” I said.
Eventually, however, and at our pediatrician’s recommendation, we did call Early Intervention. After two weeks of bureaucracy, they sent a physical therapist and a developmental specialist to evaluate Piper.
I had to go to work that day, but Kate called me once they’d left. “They say she’s definitely lagging, and she’s not showing any particular interest in rolling or moving around. They don’t know why. Her tone in her arms and legs is low, too. They’re going to refer her for physical therapy.”
And right there, my utter conviction that Piper was simply figuring things out at her own pace shattered on the floor like a dropped teacup.
I had not expected this, to say the least. Hearing an expert third party say that there’s something wrong with our kid, even something they think will be corrected with therapy, hit me far harder than hearing any diagnosis about me in the last year. Suddenly, I’m looking at Piper like her arms and legs might fall off at any moment. Kate and I are going over everything we’ve done as parents to see whether we’ve picked her up too much, put her toys too close, failed to drive the cats on carefully scheduled stampedes to induce her to pivot and watch them. (No, no, and probably, but whatever.)
Today we tried putting Piper’s toys further out of reach and gave her some of her daily time on her belly, and tried to hear her frustrated crying as the grunting people make in the gym when they’ve finally got the right weight on the bench press. Frustration should lead to motivation, and motivation to action, and action to borrowing the hovercar keys and posting on Telepathic-Facebook and rolling her eyes at how Dumb. We. Are. All of which I’ll accept, as long as this sick feeling that our happy kid has something wrong with her goes away.
The funny thing is, of course, is that Piper’s still doing exactly what she was doing on Monday morning, when I was still sure she was just doing her own thing. Still moving all her limbs, still getting better at picking the O’s and blueberries off her tray, still kicking me in the chest when she gets excited. She’s changing every day, and the things she’s doing are still changing. All that’s changed is a PT’s mild concern… but that’s enough to set me off.
To make me feel even more frustrated with my own anxiety, I recall that a seeming majority of our friends’ and family’s babies have had way more involved problems: hospitalizations and special shoes and brain imaging and early births and names that could very well get them stuffed into lockers, someday. Piper hasn’t had anything that severe, so why am I this worried? And what will I be like when she has a for-real crisis?