What is time? Minutes, hours, days pass. Time continues to move forward. And yet, so often it feels like things continue to stay the same.
As I write this, it is almost midnight of March 10, which means that in a few minutes Alicia will be 18 months old adjusted (her age she would be if she had been born on her original due date). Our daughter would have been one year and six months old if she hadn't decided to come out early.
In the beginning, when I was still learning all about what it meant to be a parent of a preemie, I learned all about adjusted age vs. actual age. For a brief short hours, I had the naive fantasy that because she was born early that she would maybe somehow be ahead of the curve. She'd develop earlier than everyone, she'd learn how to walk, talk, etc... before everyone else. Well, it wasn't long before my metaphorical bubble was quickly blasted into tiny fragments of imagination. I learned from doctors and my own research that not only did her being a micro-preemie mean that she wouldn't be ahead of the developmental curve, but also, the truth is, the condition of her birth might cause her to be "delayed". I was disappointed.
Being someone who likes to be ahead of the curve, years ago, whenever I'd hear stories of my friend's children learning to walk at 8 months, or learning to talk before their first birthday, I used to think, someday, I want my child to do that. Ha. Well, as I've learned, things don't always work out the way you'd like.
While I was disappointed at first to hear the news, it's only recently that I've begun to feel the full brunt of the let-down.
I see my niece, Hope, who was originally due within weeks of Alicia, walking, running, picking things up, holding her own cup, feeding herself, and I can't help but think, wow, if Alicia were born "on time" she'd probably be doing those things.
But I comforted myself, and thought, it's OK, she's just a little behind, she'll catch up.
Then I see, Karis, one of Alicia's closest friends, she just turned one a couple of months ago. She's already started walking and toddling around, and I think, when will it be our turn?
It's gotten to the point where kids who are younger than Alicia are surpassing her in the developmental milestones, and I just keep thinking, when, God? When will she catch up?
And then there's her size and her weight. When I look at her just on her own, I think, she's great. She's growing, and wow, she's so much bigger than when we first brought her home. But then I look at other kids her age, and they're like twice her size. And today, I learn that Alicia's other friend, Joshua, who is 5 months old, is wearing the same size diaper as she is. I'm like... ARGH!
And the doubt starts creeping in. Am I not doing enough? What can I do to help her develop faster? She's only started babbling, and even then she just makes the one sound over and over. How much longer before I can hear her call me "Daddy"?
I feel like ever since Alicia's been born, it's been this constant waiting game. Most parents hear their child's cry within seconds of delivery, we had to wait months. Most kids get held within moments of being born. Alicia had to wait months. Most kids go home with Mom and Dad a few days after birth, we waited... yes, that's right, months.
In fact about the only thing we didn't have to wait for was to see her, because she came out early. But you know what, I could have waited. I really could have.
But there's no use playing this could have, would have game. She came out early, we can't change that. We just help her with what we can now.
And I know there are people that say, "What's the rush?" Let her crawl a bit longer. She'll talk when she's ready. I know all that. It's just as a parent, you can't help but wonder, is she OK? Will she really "catchup" as everyone says.
I'm sure that in a year from now, I'll look back on this and think, what was I so wound up about? She's fine! And I know she's OK.
I guess, I'm just tired of waiting. I want to hear my daughter call me Daddy. I would give anything to not have to think about her muscle tone being tight, and not having to wonder if she's using her left arm enough, or is she standing right, or why isn't she making more sounds?
Thing is, it's a huge lesson in NOT COMPARING. Right? I mean, yes there are "norms" for development but each child is different. Each child develops at his or her own pace. And barring some huge unforeseen circumstance she's got a good 90-100 years here on Earth ahead of her to walk, talk, dance, etc... So why am I in such a rush?
I think I just want to know that she's OK. I just want her to have a good life. I want her to have full function of her body. I don't want her to have any "problems".
But really? What can I do? Not too much. I can pray, and that's a huge deal. But beyond that, she's going to develop at her own pace.
And besides, she is doing so well. Alicia is such a happy, well-adjusted, secure child. She isn't overly emotional, and doesn't cry for no reason. She isn't afraid of strangers, and will readily share a smile with people she just met. She is so responsive when we talk with her and play with her, and seeing her face light up every time I walk in the door after work just fills my heart with so much joy.
So really, I just need to suck it up and trust God. Time is such a relative thing anyway, eh? What is "on time"? What is "late"? God is ALWAYS on time, and he will never be late.
Do I wish that he would do things on my time table? OF COURSE! But, he's God, he created Alicia, he brought her out when he did. I've got to trust that he's got her life in his hands. He has come through again and again with Alicia's life, so there's no reason to think that he's going to stop now.
So, Daddy. I just let go. Alicia is your daughter. You've entrusted her to our care, but ultimately, she's yours.
And I will just relish the milestones just that much more when we arrive. =D