Today marks a special landmark day: little Bear has been outside in the world for as long as he was inside being ‘baked.’ Well I guess 34+5 equals 9, so perhaps that what little Bear thought when he decided to make his sudden and rather unexpected arrival 34 weeks and 5 days ago.
Initially I had planned for this post to be about about little Bear’s delivery and our time in hospital together, but I still don’t feel quite ready to blog about that (I am however doing a real time Tweets @mamaandlilbear today to compare what I was doing then and now). Despite how well he is doing, it still upsets me to think about my little Bear on NICU and then SCBU with feeding tubes, wires attached to his body to monitor his vital signs and lying in a heated cotbed – we were fortunate that he was only born with hypothermia and hypoglycemia, but it did not feel like that at the time. One day I will, but today is not that day.
I had also considered writing about what it is like being the mother of a preemie and how hard it was waiting for little Bear to ‘wake-up’ to the world – but then today does not feel like a day to focus on this.
Instead, in this post I’ll think back on some of the positive milestones little Bear has achieved in the last few weeks, as I feel he has made some huge leaps in his development lately.
Over the last couple of weeks he has been trying to lunge forward into a standing position when seat-straddling my leg. The second (no millisecond) he sees something that takes his fancy, that’s it: he must have it. He’s a bit like a frog that carefully watches a fly and then with a sudden flash of its tongue it grabs its prey. That is exactly what little Bear is like when it comes to deciding he suddenly wants to stand.
And it is not only standing where he is like this, he is now like it with his toys. I had a bit of mum angst following a chat with another mum at Baby Sensory. She said that she should stop handing her daughter toys as she would not learn to get them herself this way, which made me realise on reflection that I do this all the time with little Bear. Whilst he was a month younger than the daughter of my friend, I decided that considering he had been confidently sitting unaided for the a month, then now really was the time to try and get him to figure out how to get to his toys. Whilst he was frustrated to begin with after a few days he began to rake his toys towards him like he used to do when lying on his back. Now he lunges towards them, bumshuffles and I am amazed at how he keeps finding new inventive and ingenious ways of trying to bring his toy towards him so that he can play with them. This morning, during his multi-sensory morning nap routine, he even sussed out how to get to the toy box with his sensory toys and the proceeded to work out how to then get the toys out of the box. As I watched him I could see he was looking for the jingly bells (one of his favourites) as he pulled out all the chiffon scarves and the red dinosaur that was covering them and instead of playing with them he kept going back to the box. Each time to box fell back to its original position little Bear could hear the bells jingle away, and after a few attempts at searching for them he grabbed them from the bottom of the box. I was very impressed by his determination.
The other thing that has really wowed me – and scared me – in the last 24-hours of his little life was last night little Bear viewed our decision to lower his cot, so he could sit and play in it during his bedtime routine, as an invitation to be challenged to pull himself up. Within minutes of being placed in his cot he had figured out how to move his body closer to the side of the cot and then reach up to pull himself up to a standing position in the cot.
Thank god it was Ewan the Dream Sheep that is attached to that side of our cot and not Luna the Lamb Slumber Buddy (who we call McGreggor) who is on the other side of the cot facing the wall, as I do wonder whether he would have used this to try and get higher up in the cot. Looks like we’ll be moving McGreggor out of the cot soon as recommended by Summer Infant the manufacturer but little Bear loves staring and facing towards the hypnotic red light from Luna/McGreggor as it helps him to go to sleep.
We then thought, rather naively, that if we placed his new cot toy in his cot that this would occupy him and he would sit and play with this. Nope! Mama Bear and Papa Bear have made this easier and given me a ladder, thought little Bear. After showing him what his toy could do, he did sit down for a while and play with it, although this Mama Bear thinks that, for now, when he’s playing independently with it in his cot, she’ll be laying him on his back or tummy as he still hasn’t worked out how to pull himself up into a seated position – yet.
It has been a crazy 34+5 weeks and I have to say that whilst initially I never thought he would ‘catch-up’ to his birth age in the way the doctors said he would, when I reflect back on the last couple of weeks – hell the last 24-hours- I am beginning to think maybe they were right after all and by the time he is one you wouldn’t know he was a preemie?! Who knows, but for all those mothers of preemies out there, there is one thing I will say – our preemies are amazing, strong and determined little ones.
Mama Bear x