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September 19, 2011

Sane fears will make you crazy

In summing up, I kind of glossed over a lot of the details that led to surprise! baby. You'll have to get used to disappointment, cause I'm skipping them again here. The important point is that when surprise! baby was born, she weighed 5 lb 3 oz.
She was below the 5th percentile for weight and length and her head circumference fell on the wrong side of the Probably Not Arbitrary Line of Concern.
Babies can be small for gestational age for lots of reasons. We seemed to fall into either the No Idea camp or the Well, You're Small camp.
Right after delivery, when they told us about her head size, I pretty much put any possible issues out of my mind. It wasn't until the pediatrician visited us the next day and cheerily said, "Well, everything's symetrical!" that I started to rethink that position.

SGA babies can have developmental problems, especially learning disorders and ADHD. Although technically full term, they can also have the same problems as preemies. Her tiny head size brought on worries about brain development, but nothing we'd know until she started missing her milestones.

I'm sure every mom worries to some degree about whether her baby is healthy and developing normally. But when you've been told within 12 hours of her birth that you'll just have to wait and see, it's nerve wracking.
She measured at less than 35 weeks at birth, so technically we can consider her up to five weeks early and thus, up to five weeks behind in her development. Which makes keeping track of whether she's "behind" kind of difficult.

We did have some problems early on, related to her small size. Most notably, nursing, which she didn't do well until she was nine weeks old.

I was exhausted from the feeding routine (offer breast, maybe sort of nurse, maybe not, then bottle feed, then pump then repeat ALL DAY). I didn't really think much about it; it was just what needed to be done and eventually it would be over. I'm sure it contributed to my rising panic when she hadn't smiled yet.
All the baby tracker things said to start expecting smiles at six weeks, usually eight tops. I'd seen her smile in her sleep, but not at us. Her favorite thing seemed to be the light fixture in the living room, and she didn't smile at that either.
We'd get up in the morning and do the feeding thing all day, interspersed with some napping. She was awake more, so we'd have face-to-face time and I'd try to get her to smile. And she didn't. And my terror level would start rising. It'd ease back down while I was busy with something else, but as soon as it was baby time, it'd start racheting up again. It was a little like being on one of those old-school roller coasters, that click click click slow climb, building tension before the first big plunge. For days. Weeks, actually.

And then we started seeing little glimmers of smiles. Then she started nursing, then unquestionably smiling, and now we've taken to calling her Grimy Neck Gigglypants.

All is okay. For now.

The for now is the hardest part. Again, I think every mom worries. But I somehow feel more justified in worrying.
Mostly, I don't think about it. So far (there it is again), she's awesome. She's doing all the things she should and she's so into everything, I think she's gonna be really smart. Everyone comments on how alert and bright-eyed she is, and adorable and good.
But it's there, under the surface. I worry because I have no control over it, and even though it's a totally sane, justified fear, I don't think it makes any more sense than my irrational fears.

I don't really care for crazy. I maybe should've thought of that before we reproduced, but I'm pretty good at taking things as they are, so we're good. For now.

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