Peter is sitting in his bouncy seat, delighting in the fact that if he waves his arms and kicks his legs, he can get toys to swing, lights to flash, and silly sounds to congratulate him. It’s adorable.
I bought this bouncy seat from the same man who sold me Peter’s mobile a couple days before we brought Peter home from the hospital. For about three months, Peter ignored the toys hanging from his mobile and the lights on his bouncy seat. He may have enjoyed the nursery rhymes that his bouncy seat played and the classical music that his mobile serenaded, but it was hard to tell for sure. In the past month, though, Peter has finally transformed from a passive newborn into a babbling baby who smiles at the sight of his parents and is discovering the magic of toys.
Funny thing about preemies: they are newborns for the longest time. What is normally a two-month stage of life gets stretched to three, four, five months. For the tiniest and sickest preemies, the newborn stage can be stretched even longer than this.
Other first-time-moms wonder, “When will my baby develop more head control?”
“Is it normal for my baby to sleep so many hours each day?”
“My daughter grew out of her newborn outfits in only two weeks!”
I, on the other hand, think to myself, “Peter flipped his head from one side to the other all by himself! What a strong boy!”
“Why won’t Peter keep the nice schedule he was on in the NICU: diaper change, bottle, sleep, repeat every 4 hours?”
“Peter’s 5 months old, and I’m getting tired of his newborn outfits. Time to start wearing the 3-month outfits!”
Now that Peter is cooing at me, offering social smiles, lifting his head like a pro during tummy time, showing some signs of teething, and wearing his 3-month outfits, I think I’m finally ready to acknowledge the fact that my baby is not a newborn anymore. I’ll expect him to start rolling over soon (Grandpa’s giving him 6 weeks). I’ll expect him to take increasing interest in toys and the teething necklace Santa brought us for Christmas. I’ll look forward to introducing solid foods, feeding my son with the sterling silver monogrammed antique spoons I bought him for Christmas rather than with the 2-ounce bottles left over from his NICU days. I’ll look forward to the day he learns to sleep through the night.
Looking forward to 2011. I predict that Peter will hit many amazing milestones in the months ahead: rolling, sitting, crawling, walking, and his first words. I predict that Peter will have sextupled his birth weight by his first birthday, over-achiever that he is. I predict that next fall, I will cry on the first day I have to leave my baby boy in daycare. I predict (and pray) that we will not be as dependent on our health insurance as we were in 2010. I predict that 2011 will be filled with much joy and happiness as my family continues to thank God for the precious gift of our beautiful baby boy. No short-term problem or difficulty can overshadow the fact that we have truly been blessed.