2.5 years ago, Harley came into the world in truly dramatic fashion. I was 32 weeks pregnant when I had seizures brought on by full-blown eclampsia. LIke, the thing after preeclampsia. An emergency c-section later, Harley was born, eight weeks premature.
I had never imagined that I would have a premature baby, and I knew absolutely nothing about it. A first-time mom, I was terrified of everything it could or would mean. I read all about possible complications, developmental hurdles or other issues. I wanted to be prepared.
It was terrifying. Eventually, I had to stop reading because I was so worried, upset and afraid of what the future MIGHT hold for Harley. Instead, I focused on doing what I could to get her through the time in the hospital. And then just surviving our early days and weeks.
Now, 2.5 years later, Harley is amazing, and you would never guess she was a prem baby. I thought I would share a bit about her, how she has surpassed all expectations and where she falls on her milestones. So, if you are just taking things day by day with your prem baby, I hope this helps you imagine a less terrifying version of what the future might hold with your preemie baby’s development.
When it comes to size and weight, Harley is a rather petite kid. I’m not sure this has to do with her being prem, though, considering that Dean and I aren’t the largest people. She’s still a healthy height and weight for her age, but she’s in the lower 25% of other kids her age.
But wow can she USE that body of hers. She loves to run and march and dance and stomp. She wants to be chased around and throw a ball. She’s also fiercely independent, insisting on putting on pants herself or brushing her own teeth. She loved doing yoga with me and at school, and will often say that it’s yoga time so that we’ll do some fun stretches at home.
She also has some pretty decent fine motor skills. She loves to build with blocks, and can easily build a tower with over 5 or 6 little blocks. She can climb stuff, often far too well where I feel like I’m always pulling her off of precarious locations.
She loves to move her body in new ways, like flapping her arms like she’s flying or twisting, shaking and generally just acting like a silly kid. Plus, she knows her different body parts and loves to play games like head, shoulders, knees, and toes.
Communication and Language Milestones
I think this is the part that blows me away the most. Well, combined with the social, emotional and cognitive milestones, but we’ll get to that. Harley is a TALKER, and a singer, and clearly loves language. She wants to chat pretty much all the time and uses complicated sentences. She’ll comment on the weather, telling me “it’s bright outside” or “it’s windy, mommy! I feel it in my hair.” She will tell me that she wants to eat certain things, or how to play with her toys.
Most intriguingly, she uses idiomatic expressions and contractions. For a while, she sounded like Tommy Wiseau in The Room, always telling me “No mommy, do not do that, DO NOT!”. But now, she’ll say “it’s okay” or “don’t worry mommy”. She’ll talk about something and respond with “I have an idea” or “let me figure this out”. And perhaps she’s just mirroring the videos that she has watched, but for a 2.5-year-old to use phrases and expressions like this, I’m pretty impressed at least.
Recently, she even used instead in a sentence. I gave her a crayon and her paper as well as her snack in the back of the car, and she asked me, “mommy, can I have my snack instead of drawing?” I was flabbergasted, and of course said yes. But WOW!
Social and Emotional Milestones
Harley is a social kid. I’m honestly not worried about having a sibling so that there’s someone for her to hang out with. She makes friends easily, happily playing with other kids her age or sidling up to a teacher or nearby adult to chat away and be social. She engages other people in play, and is emotionally astute enough to realize that different people engage in different kinds of play. So she will play more cerebral games with her Omi (my mom) while going for more physical games with her GG (Dean’s mom).
She knows her name and the names of all her friends, real and imaginary. She likes to play, a lot. We often have to play pretend restaurant, or picnic. She knows her own name and will take turns, even when she’s just playing with her stuffed animals. She can even tell me now when she needs a nappy change, or that she needs to go potty… sometimes.
My favorite thing, beyond the fact that she is able to chat away to me and play various games with me? She will now randomly tell me that she loves me. It isn’t just a repetition of when I tell it to her. She will just come over after playing with a toy and give me a big hug and tell me she loves me. It seriously melts my heart and makes me forget any of the harder times. At least for a little while.
Harley has a great sense of humor. Like, she is sarcastic. I’m so proud. The other night, she asked if we were done eating so she could go play. I told her to drink some water and then she could. She literally pretended to drink just so she could play, and when I called her out on it, she cackled with laughter. She thinks some jokes are hilarious and will talk about when she’s dropped things or lost stuff as “silly Harley” or “silly Mr steak” (seriously, the plastic steak for her BBQ is almost impossible to turn with the toy tongs).
She also has a sense of numbers. She’ll tell me to give her one of something, or we will get ready for bed and she will say that we have two books left to read. She’ll ask for multiple sweeties, or talk about needing one more bite. She is learning to quantify her existence in a way that I didn’t even realize was a milestone.
She also really gets the idea of sequence. She will tell me that first, we have to go get daddy, and then we will make a fire and cook food. She understands that there are steps to the process. She even counts the steps on her fingers – it’s too ridiculously adorable. It also means that I can give her more complicated instructions, like that we need to brush her teeth, get dressed, put on shoes and get ready for school, and she will happily work through each step.
I don’t mean for this to be a bragging post. I’m not trying to say how much a genius or whatever my kid is as some kind of show-off blog. Instead, I hope it gives other prem moms some comfort. I wish that I had read articles from other prem moms when I was pumping milk all the time and worrying that my kid would be delayed to have hope about my preemie baby’s development.
Maybe all the child development stuff helped. Maybe she was just naturally going to be gifted. Whatever happened, my little girl who was born two months early is now not only caught up but excelling.
Do you have a prem baby? How is your little one developing?