How is it almost September?! I have been wanting to write for weeks now. I had a whole entry prepared in my mind about our trip to LA and how well we did, just us three girls. I wanted to write about visiting our friends, our trip to Disney, getting to see Farm Sanctuary's Animal Acres. I wanted to post pictures of my kids sleeping and playing quietly on the plane, and tell you all about how well Johnny did when four days after we returned from LA I left him for six days with the girls while I flew to San Diego to do a very intense leadership training program. I need to document how I actually left my girls with a babysitter, and I didn't die! I have great stories and even better pictures I want to preserve here. So I hope I will write that entry soon. But that's not what this one is about.
This is the entry that no mama ever wants to write about her child. Here goes: I am really, really worried about Teeny.
It's not so much that she had 103.7 fever today and is so full of phlegm that she has snot running down her face. It's not that she's so stuffy that she can't nurse because she can't breathe through her nose. It's not even that she only has two teeth so far. And it's not that I had her secretly weighed at Bee's pediatrician appointment yesterday by the sweet office girl when the doctor wasn't looking and I learned that she is only in the 6th percentile for weight. It's that she is weeks shy of her first birthday and she's not walking. She's not even crawling. And while I'm at it, I'll say here that she isn't even great at sitting by herself.
She can sit. But not for long. She can stand with support until her legs buckle. She can get up on all fours and scoot backwards. I'll be in the kitchen cooking, with her on the floor surrounded by varied and colorful toys meant to tempt her into crawling forwards, and I'll hear a wail from across the room and find her stuck under the couch where she somehow wriggled backwards seven feet or so and can't figure out how to get out. Her legs, arms and neck are strong. But what I've suspected for some time now is that her back is not. Something in her core, her very center, is weak and underdeveloped. You can see it in the photos, in the way she sits. I so desperately want to be wrong, but as the days go by and I see such little change, I fear the worst.
I don't know anything for sure. I'm a born worrier and becoming a mother has only made it worse. Now that I have other people to worry about, anxiety is a full-time job for me. Call this a mother's intuition, call it a hunch. Or call it me comparing her to her sister. (Who, for the record, crawled at 6 1/2 months, walked at 10 months, and is currently so big and tall -- 95th percentile for weight -- that I got a lecture yesterday on cutting her calories. On a two-and-a-half year old!) I look at my two girls, polar opposites in height and weight and developmental milestones and wonder, what the fuck, man? Did I or did I not give birth to both of these precious beings? What is going on here? People joke and say, one is shaped like me (I guess I'm the fat one) and the other like her daddy (the skinny one). But the truth is, I'm not fat anymore and Teeny might be slender like Johnny but she's not long and tall like he is. And she eats as much if not more than Bee, but she's barely gained any weight since her last visit. So who knows.
Teeny is the most delightful child. I love her with all my heart and all my soul. She and her sister grew inside me. This is a concept that, as an adoptee growing up, I could simply not comprehend and still, two pregnancies and births later, strikes me as weird. She is named for the person I grew inside of and with whom I shared that same intimate bond. To me, Teeny is stunning. She looks nothing like me: she has big beautiful blue eyes, long dark lashes, full lips like her daddy. Her hair is coming in blonde to compliment her fair complexion. But she is my daughter, and I do not want her to struggle. Today I watched her up on all fours, rocking back and forth with a delighted grin. Despite her fever and snotty nose, she was happy, and trying. She laughed when Johnny draped her head with a cool wet washcloth to try to get her fever down, and happily posed for pictures. She rarely if ever cries, has been sleeping through the night since she was a day old. She plays with her sister already and laughs hysterically at every little move Bee makes. She claps her hands whenever I say "Yay!" She feeds herself Cheerios and other small things while I feed her her favorite foods: lentils, spinach, sweet potatoes, avocados, tofu, Ezekiel bread, oatmeal. She especially loves peanut butter and jelly and gobbles it down like it's her last meal. Then she shakes her head emphatically and presses her lips together when she's full. She likes to be in water. She is starting to talk, pretty much right on schedule. Ba-ba. Da-da. Guh! And so on. She sings and hums. She is bright eyed, alert, intelligent, aware. She is social and connected to people, especially me. I'm not worried about her mind. And I think, sure, her upbringing thus far is different than Bee's. Like many second children, she gets less attention than her older sibling did. She is held a little less, left with a toy or a stuffed animal a little more. But like many second children, she adores her older sibling. I hear time and time again that second children are born bigger than firsts, and that they often achieve their milestones faster because they want to be like big brother or big sister. Not Teeny. I watch her rock back and forth, poised on the very edge of about-to-crawl-ness, and again and again I watch her collapse, unable.
So yesterday we had Bee's 2.5 year doctor's appointment. Unable to control myself another second, when our pediatrician asked if I had any other questions, I thrust Teeny at her. She was smiling and cooing. You've never seen a happier baby than this one, even when her mama is about to sell her out to the early intervention specialists. Which is exactly what I did. For months now, I've been hearing all kinds of excuses. She's fine. It's just volition. You can't compare her to Bee. Everyone goes at their own pace. She's not in a rush! Just wait, before you know it she'll be walking across the room. Give it time. Well, none of that is happening. She makes progress, but it is slow, and I have no patience. I don't want to hear it anymore.
So today I called the early intervention referral number the pediatrician gave me. They didn't take me very seriously, and said that in a few weeks I will get a call back and at some point after that someone would come to do an evaluation and maybe they'd offer her physical therapy but it was possible that they would determine that she just needs time. I marked my calendar for the date by which I should hear back so I know when to start calling daily. In the meantime I will call my orthopedist and ask for a referral to a pediatric orthopedic specialist, ask every Facebook friend, every doctor and nurse I know, every parent, every physical therapist I've ever seen if they have any idea what we could be facing. I'm going to give this kid all the love and affection I have in me, which is a LOT, and I'm going to hope and pray that I'm wronger than wrong and that everyone else is right and that tomorrow or the next day she will just get right up and run to me. I know that all things considered, I am lucky. Teeny may need some help but she will get it one way or the other. We have good health insurance and an emergency fund, and we have more determination than most. She is not in grave danger, or so I'm told. Other parents face delays and challenges with their children far more serious than this. Still, I am losing sleep over this. This is not how it was supposed to be.
So you can tell me I'm crazy, you can tell me I shouldn't compare. Share with me how radically different your kids are from each other, and give me phone numbers of doctors for second and third opinions. Send Teeny your love and support, your thoughts and prayers. But you can't tell me not to worry. I'm here trying to make sense out of it all, wondering if I am to blame, if we somehow did something wrong, if maybe that wackadoo Ayurvedic doctor I saw in desperation when I was deathly ill who told me there was some cataclysmic event during my pregnancy that affected my health and Teeny's too could have been right. (Side note: I doubt it. She also called my GI woes -- the reason I went to see her -- a Balrog in my belly. I love The Lord of the Rings as much as the next person, but a Balrog in my belly? Really? Come on.) Even if there's nothing else to be done but wait for her to decide to get up and walk on her own, I'm always going to worry. Even when Teeny is finally crawling, which I know she eventually will, and then when she's walking, and eventually running and climbing and jumping, I am always going to worry.