My little boy was rolling at 3 months!

My little girl was crawling by 3 months.

My little one was babbling by then.

My cutie pie was rolling, crawling and babbling by 3 months.

Well my little boy fought hard for his life and beat the odds! Top that! (I don’t actually say this out loud – I tend to smile, stay quiet and get away from boasting parents as soon as possible). This picture is of my little one not far off 3 months.

My little boy happy and playing at baby group
My little boy happy and playing at baby group

Parents are proud of their children and all their accomplishments but when telling their fellow parents they seem to go into comparison-itis mode. Not all parents do this but there does seem to be a lot of them out there.

I am a parent of a premature baby

My little boy was delivered 10 weeks early, he was very poorly and not expected to survive. There is no comparing him and his development with babies the same age as him, I need to use his corrected age (this is the age he would be if he hadn’t been born premature). Even then you are pre-warned before discharge that your baby’s development could be a few years behind due to prematurity and any other underlying health conditions.

At 3 months old my son had spent all his life in hospital with the exception of 4 days at home. His corrected age was that of a new born so there was no way he was going to be rolling, crawling or babbling, his greatest achievement was his determination to survive!

My little boy recovering in hospital after being resuscitated at home
My little boy recovering in hospital after being resuscitated at home

Children all develop at their own rate but this can be a really sensitive subject for preemie parents as it reminds them all over again about their child’s prematurity. Some people are quite ballsy as well, I was out with my son one day walking him in his pram trying to get him to sleep and a woman asked if she could look at him. Of course she could I’m a proud parent too! She asked how old he was and when I answered she wasn’t happy at how small he was when I told her his actual age.

What happened next took me by surprise

She tried to barge me off the pram making it clear she thought he was too small and that I was an unfit mother. I then had to explain to this complete stranger that he was born prematurely and was a very poorly baby.

I am sure she meant well but her comparing my son to other babies his age left me having to explain the traumatic event of his birth which I found stressful. This lady wouldn’t have realised either that her actions really unnerved me and I didn’t want to take my son out for a walk the next few days and when I did, I took routes where there wouldn’t be many people.

I also found groups quite uncomfortable too. It took me a long time to pluck up the courage to take my son to a mother and baby group, in fact it was 6 weeks before my maternity leave was due to end. I was just starting to feel like things were settling down and could actually enjoy a little of my maternity leave.

Two women whispering. Photography credit: Ben White
Two women whispering. Photography credit: Ben White

I tried a few different groups and found them cliquey. The mum’s would ask me about my little boy and quickly move on back to their group of mummy friends making it clear I was not welcome. Some openly talked about me to their other mummy friends, pointing and discussing what kind of mother I was.

Finding a friendly (no comparing) baby group

I confided in a friend and she recommended a different group where all the mummy’s and daddy’s were lovely and the group organiser was so welcoming. There were no cliques and no competitive baby talk. I felt so much better and when I have days off with my little boy I still take him to this group when I can.

As parents we should be praising each other for the amazing jobs we are doing. We should be celebrating a child’s milestones and treating them as the individual that they are. If a parent asks about how you encouraged your child to meet a milestone offer tips in a non-judgemental way. Also a preemie parent will get excited about things that seem like nothing to you such as: they are in a cot! They can wear clothes! They can have a bath! Their medication has been reduced! They are breathing in air!

My message is simple – be proud, no comparing and competing!