Emma Dalton-Brown, Gleaner Writer
Most parents, if not all, are concerned about whether their babies are developing at the right stage. We get nervous when there is any delay, and we start to show off, like a peacock strutting his stuff, the moment our kids learn and do something new. The strangest phenomenon in all of this is that when a dad is excessive about his child's achievements, we think it's cute, but when the mum goes on about it, she's being competitive!
Every week I receive an email from www.babycenter.com, which is a website I signed up with when I first got pregnant 19 months ago. These emails tell you the stage your pregnancy is at, and then once the baby is born (you let them know the date, of course), you continue to receive an update of what your infant should be doing. I must admit that I was more vigilant about reading it while I was pregnant. For one, you are so excited that any kind of literature remotely related to babies is all you are interested in. And second, I was on bed rest so I had masses of time. If you think there are idle hours once the baby pops out, you'll be mistaken. When I get these weekly messages, I save up about two months' worth and read them all in the wee hours of the night!
Of course, I'd be damned if I could remember the exact age of our little boy when he laughed, turned over, sat up, crawled, pulled himself up, said 'Mama' or 'Dada', barked like the dog, or started waving. I feel shame when other mothers brag about their wonderful baby book. How do they find the time to fill it out? Many of them work, for goodness sake! It's not that we don't have a book and the authors do make it easy, because all we are supposed to do is fill in the blanks. However, when I am not doing things for the little chap (which is some 12 hours of each day), I am getting on with my business. I cannot have my entire day, and night, consumed by baby stuff alone. I'd become a rather boring person! And before I get any judgement from my readers, let me inform you that I do not have a nanny. That being said, it doesn't mean one should not have some semblance of a job or hobby, which is independent of their family. Back to the case in hand though!
Narcissistic, but helpful
I was recently talking with a woman whose son was diagnosed with autism when he was about a year and a half. She had proudly recalled that he'd walked at nine months, could talk before he was one, and had reached all the appropriate benchmarks for his age, until he was 15 months. That was when their world began to crumble, when he started to regress. It didn't take long for this mother of one to realise that something was wrong. She promptly sought out doctors, started reading every piece of literature on the subject, and got her boy into 20 hours of occupational therapy, and five hours of speech therapy, each week.
This got me thinking. Keeping a journal of your child's development is not solely narcissistic, but might be of use if a doctor ever needs to have a full history. You never know what is going to happen. Those of us with healthy infants and toddlers might take it all for granted. Statistics show that "approximately 450 Jamaican children will be born with this condition (autism) each year" (Jamaica Autism Support Association). Having that record of your baby's life could aid in a diagnosis, were something to be off key with meeting milestones.
Emmadaltonbrown@gmail.com April is Autism Awareness month. Please look out for my article next Monday, April 26, which will take a more personal look into the realities of having a child with autism.