OK apologies for the ranty title but this involved one my own, one of my children. Eeek. So like any good mummy blogger I am taking my stand and
ranting writing about it.
Now, it does of course involve the health visitor. I’m sensing the knowing nods from mum’s reading this. Now in the interest of fairness my health visitors have all, for the most part been lovely, kind, supportive, non-judgemental, softly spoken and mumsy all the qualities you look for in a health visitor. Until my most recent encounter anyway.
Toby recently celebrated his first birthday, well rather we did, I’m not sure he knew a great deal about it. But as such he was due his review, which brought the health visitor to our house. I have mentioned it before, and I’ll mention it again, Toby was born a little under-cooked at 2 months ahead of schedule. It’s an important piece of information to bear in mind.
Anyway those of you who have had a 10-14 month old, you will know that you are sent a some paper with a series of question to answer about things your little ones are or aren’t doing. You’re probably sensing that the review didn’t quite go the way I had hoped.
Toby, at one, is not yet crawling, or able to pull himself up on the furniture, bend over pick and stand again. This apparently meant he had a low score in the gross motor portion of the test and as such said health visitor has booked to come check on him in a few months. As someone not used to scoring low on tests this stung a little.
Now don’t get me wrong, I know it’s quite ridiculous to pitch another babies development against another with a score sheet. They are after all immensely different and develop and exceptionally different rates. I know that, when I am logical. However when I have my mum hat on I am somewhat short of logical. But it doesn’t end there, having spent 18 years living and growing up with a severally disabled brother, I know all too well that sometimes the worst really can happen.
Logically I know in my heart of hearts Toby is and will be fine. The impact of prematurity should not be under-estimated, especially those born before 34 weeks. This is the point babies lungs are considered fully developed and capable of working outside of mum. Toby didn’t reach 34 weeks. His lungs were not capable of working independently on birth. He needed drugs, machines and intubation tubes just to help him perform the basic function that is breathing. Babys’ suck swallow technique isn’t developed until circa 35 weeks, so feeding before this point is incredibly difficult. Another of life’s basics. So these babies have to spend the first 6, 7, 8 weeks of their life leaning these essential skills. A full term baby, is for the most part, smiling, holding their head, usually a bit more awake than the very early newborn days by this point. So it does stand to reason that these little preemie babies may well take a bit longer to hit milestones and attain targets their peers have passed. Consultants have advised it can take up to two years for the early birds to catch up.
Despite all this sensible coherent thought, over the week following my health visitors visit I found myself saying the following things:
- Well we have just been on a two week holiday in Menorca where we couldn’t put him down to practice because he’s not stable enough and he would inevitably hit is head on the stone floor. Had he been home he may well be crawling by now.
- Some babies don’t even crawl.
- Well he’s all there because he can say ‘Zara’ and when he drops things on the floor he says’Uh Oh’!
- Well she has only seen Toby for 10 minutes she can’t possibly say.
And then when I managed to get really riled:
- Well what the F**K does she know anyway?
I know what could this trained health professional with decades of experience possible know about babies? Not one of my finer arguments I admit. Not one I would recommend one of my client’s use in the courtroom, but there I was taking Toby’s ‘low score’ out on my health visitor. I told you, mum hat is illogical.
I must say though the health visitor didn’t help her uncontrollable fate by uttering the words to me ‘I feel sorry for you because this is your lot in life now’. Yes those were her actual words. This.is.your.lot.in.life. It’s been lingering round my head like a bad smell all week. Fortunately I have, mostly, taken it with the proverbial pinch of salt but I would be lying if I said I was unaffected by it. What did she mean? My life is over? This is as good as it gets? You’re mum now kiss goodbye to ambition, fun the future? I also did wonder, what if she had said this to someone a little more vulnerable or someone struggling or battling with PND how might they have felt? I don’t believe she meant it to be hurtful or vindictive but let’s be honest, it is not exactly encouraging is it?
Anyway I digress, I do believe Health Visitors perform an incredibly important even essential role for mums everywhere they are caring, knowledge and intelligent people. Further it is by no means any fault of my health visitor that Toby is not crawling. She was simply doing her job, well. My problem is exactly that, my problem. A personal hurdle I need to clamber over. I am his mum I worry about him (and his sister) every day and believe I will until my last breath. However I would suggest uttering those illusive words, ‘this is your lot in life’ is probably never, in any circumstances, the right thing to say.