I’ve been doing things to make my baby laugh ever since the first giggle escaped her lips. The sound of her laughing is enough to make me forget everything else and live purely in that moment. I’d do anything to coerce a giggle from her – silly sounds, dance around like a lunatic, hide and seek, funny voices, let her pull my hair…
Finally, it happened.
After over seven months of baby bliss (okay, this is an exaggeration, but stay with me) Emma and I were woken by a soft whimpering coming from Hannah’s bedroom at five in the morning. I know what you are thinking – isn’t crying at ungodly hours a rite of passage of new parents? Well, for us it was highly unusual. Hannah has been a capable night-time sleeper since birth. Other than a few restless nights early on, she has followed baby night-time sleeping patterns to the letter. So, when we heard those soft little sorrowful sounds, we knew straight away something was up.
Milestones. These are potentially a dangerous trap for parents. Those overly focused on what their baby should be doing can become acutely aware of when their child has not done something at the time they are supposed to. This can lead to anxiety and stress. Too much focus on milestone achievement can also lead to competitive parenting, especially at a time when pre-kindy achievements can be shared and compared with the click of a button.
I’ve tried to avoid the idea of milestones as much as possible. Obviously, they have their place as a rough guide to expected paths of development. They are used to identify the need for early intervention – something that has been proven to assist in realising positive outcomes later in life. Other than that, milestones to me are something to be enjoyed as they happen, and an opportunity to reflect on how far this amazing human has come in such a short time.
I am new to parenting and writing.
Why did I start (writing, that is)? My daughter, Hannah, went from newly-born to six months old in the blink of an eye. What had begun with feeling like a never-ending slog through three-hourly feeds, breast pumps and bottles, forty minute sleep cycles and weird, tar-like pooey nappies, had now developed into interactivity, personality and solids (food and poos). As the initial days of parenthood (not to mention the months preceding) faded into distant memory, I began to worry. My memory has never been the greatest – I struggle to recall most of my childhood and teenage years. Even much of my twenties feels like it’s viewed through a fog. I didn’t want the same thing to happen with my memories of Hannah as a baby.