If Nyana had been born on her due date, our little Princess Does-A-Lot would have been six months on Friday. Instead, on Monday she will be nine months old. It’s sometimes confusing counting Nyana in two different time zones—her chronological age and her developmental age—but for the most part, people seem to just go with it. When strangers on the street ask me how old she is I tell them ‘almost nine months’, and no one says otherwise despite the fact that not many nine-month old babies weigh in at a paltry 15 pounds. But without tooting our horn too much, Don and I are mighty proud of what our itty bitty teeny tiny Chub Chub grew herself into. She’s hitting most of her milestones left and right and making her Dad and I so proud in so many ways. Some of the things that Nyana can do at six months (corrected) include:
- Sit up unassisted. I’m calling this one official even though we still have the odd tip-over. She can sit on her own long enough for me to leave the room for a minute or two and still find her upright when I return, and more often than not, when she realizes she’s about to go down, she simply folds herself in half. That’s a success in my books.
- Sleep. The girl can sleep. The bedtime routine of meds and puffers and pyjamas starts at about 8:30 PM and by nine o’clock it’s lights out. Don and I might have three or four soother reinsertions to contend with in the first hour after we put her down for the night, but as of ten or eleven o’clock, we don’t usually hear from her again until about 7:00 AM. Even then, when she wakes in the morning, she’s content to talk to her mobile and entertain herself until we’re ready to get out of bed an hour later. Factor in the naps—usually 3 or 4 hours worth strewn throughout the day—and we easily get 16 hours of sleep out of her in a 24 hour period. A benefit of our extended NICU adventure, I suppose; after all, the girl slept through a riot just blocks away the other night.
- Baa ba badaada dadagaga. Nyana has found her voice. I know I’ve mentioned her newfound voice before, but where it was once just noise, it’s now an attempt at communication. She mimicks noises she hears and babbles away continuously to anyone—or anything—that will listen. Where a week ago Don and I would wake to the shrill sound of excited, high-pitched squealing coming from her crib, now we wake to a nonsensical string of jibberish coming from the room next door. I like to imagine that she’s making up sordid tales about the donkey and the bunny and the duck on her mobile.
- Look for toys outside her peripheral. She’s clued in that an object doesn’t disappear as soon as it falls from sight. When she tosses a toy off to the side and inadvertantly lets go of it, she’ll arch her back or crane her neck or reach her arms to try to grab it. She may not always be successful in retrieving it, but she’s aware that it’s still there.
- Eat. It’s hard sometimes having three or four different overlapping medical teams advising how to raise your child. Feeding is still the biggest obstacle for Don and me—it seems that her oral development is the only area that doesn’t have a clear plan in place for how to move forward. Occupational therapy continues to remind us that Nyana needs to get accustomed to food and other things near her mouth being pleasurable; respirology is continually advising against oral feeding for risk of aspiration into the lungs. After seven plus months playing by everyone else’s rules though, sometimes we just need to trust our gut. In addition to the tastes of formula we’ve been giving to her on a spoon, we’ve introduced a mesh feeder to the mix, allowing her to sample flavours and experience bringing food to her mouth on her own, without running the risk of choking on large volumes at a time. We’ve only fed avocado to date, with resounding success.
- Stand. This one isn’t what I’d call a success just yet; she can’t pull herself into a standing position—not even close—nor can she stand on her own for extended periods of time like she can sit. But she loves being up on two feet and if I stand her up then prop her against something solid, she can hold on for five seconds or so unassisted. She’s incredibly strong, considering she spent the majority of her fist seven months flat on her back.
- Respond to her own name. This one gets an ‘almost always’ because there are some times she just refuses to respond to anything. But for the most part, Nyana, Ny, and Nyner all get responses if called by either Don or me; strangers, not so much (yet).
Of course, there are still a number of items on the Nyana Can’t Do That list, like roll over, or fully support her weight on her arms, or eat from a bottle or leave our apartment without either an oxygen tank or a 25-pound battery. But all things considering, she’s growing like a baby should, and developing like a baby should, even if she’s on her own timeline. It’s difficult not to get hung up on milestones though—we had a playdate last week and I found myself sad at the end of it all that between her limiting gear and her developmental delay, Nyana wasn’t entirely able to interact with the other kids the way I’d hoped—but given the start in life she had, it’s not fair to compare her to other kids. Because compared to other kids, she’s pretty amazing if I do say so myself.
Oh, and that business of not being able to roll over? She can do it. She just really doesn’t like to.