Peanut and Bear get their first report cards!

Today was a big day for our household.  Well, more for Peanut and Bear than me.  Today was the day they got their first ever report cards.

When a baby is discharged from the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, they’re immediately set up for follow-up appointments with a team of their doctors and therapists to follow their development until age three.

I love this and hate this.

I love it because it ensures that we’re not missing anything in the “small picture”.  We’re so busy looking at the big picture and trying to diagnose an unknown disability and perform surgeries and things that we may completely overlook the fact that Bear should be crawling by now, or Peanut should be babbling by now.  We forget about the developmental things.  Now, I know they say babies have a large range where they should begin performing new developmental milestones, but with preemies and NICU babies it’s a little different.  We just have to be a little more strict in making sure we do our utmost to give them the tools they need to strive.  Basically… it’s up to Mom and Dad to make sure they stay “up to par.”  That means more doctor appointments, more one-on-one interaction and so on.

That’s why I hate it.  I feel like most Moms are really paranoid with their first baby, and rightfully so.  It’s a totally new experience and you want to make sure your baby keeps up with his or her peers and first-time-moms want to make sure they do their best.  But, as I and many other Moms I know have experienced, when baby number two (and beyond) comes you’re a lot more relaxed.  You find you’re not being as strict about certain foods, you’re not as paranoid about keeping your baby away from potentially germy places and you don’t do as much with those ‘above and beyond’ things like teaching baby sign language.

So now, when I’m totally ready to let the girls develop at their own pace and I’m not scared that they’ll fall behind, I’m finding myself being even more on the ball than I was even with Buddy.  It’s not that I don’t love the twins or want the best for them.  Not at all.  But my god… I’ve only got so much patience.  I can absolutely understand why baby number two isn’t held to as high of standards as number one.  Because you’ve been there, done that.  You’re more confident that they’ll be just fine.

I can’t give that reasoning to doctors though.  “Oh, don’t worry doctor.  It’ll work itself out.”  Lines like that drive them absolutely crazy!  Then, I’m not going to blatantly lie to their faces and say, “Oh, yeah we work on our colors and numbers before bed, and I teach them a new sign every day.”

I’ve been doing what I can, when I can.  I don’t read educational things to them every day, but I read them a bedtime story.  I don’t work tirelessly on spoon-feeding, but they’re already getting pretty good with it.  I don’t do colors or numbers at all and, frankly, I don’t care if they don’t know them for another year or longer.

That said, I was pretty nervous last night thinking about how they’ll par up against the “national average”.  I didn’t think they were falling behind by any means, but I was a little nervous that I just got a little too lax in recent months as I started to wear thin.  It’s a little nerve-wracking going into something knowing you’re going to be judged.  Not just any kind of judged, either.  I was going to be stripped down and torn apart limb from limb.  They were going to look at everything.  EVERYTHING I do with them.

Again, I love this and hate this.

I love it because I know they’re so thorough there’s little to no room for error.  Their assessments are spot on.  They not only test the girls in the moment, but they ask me how it compares to what they do at home.  Granted, I have to be honest here if I want an accurate assessment.  If this was a quiz for me I’d totally beef myself up and make myself to be way better than I really was.  Obsessively clean? Nah.  Short temper?  Not me!  Flakey at times?  Nonsense!

The problem with “beefing it up” was that this was about my girls.  It did them no good.  I had to be completely honest, even if it meant I looked like a terrible mother.

That’s why I hate it.  I feel like I’m put under a spotlight and being read my rights.  “You have the right to be embarrassed.  You have the right to hang your head in shame…”

So, this morning Husband and I got up at 6 and got all three kids ready to go down for my public humiliation.

Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised at how nice everyone was.  They all adored Buddy because he was such a sweetheart and kept helping them with their tools.  Then they joked and laughed with me most of the time rather than scrutinizing me like I was expecting.  Then they basically played with the girls in different scenarios and watched how the reacted to it.

When they were done, they graded them by their adjusted age (They’re technically 8 months old, but 7 months adjusted because they were born a month early) and gave me a report card with their age equivalent to skill areas.  It’s called the Bayley test.  Like, “Peanut is 7 months adjusted, but she is performing these skills that the average 8 month old would do.”  Then the other nice thing was that they reassured me it was just the “average”.  They made it clear that I wasn’t a failure if the girls scored lower on some areas than in others.  “Some babies develop at different paces, and the same holds true for premature babies.  We’re just keeping a closer eye on them to make sure they catch up eventually.”

So, without further adieu, here are my girl’s first report cards at 7 months adjusted age:

Peanut:

Growth Progress
Weight: 17 lb 2 oz               55%
Length: 26 1/4″                    50%
Head Circ: 17″                      70%

Bayley test scores: Age equivalent
Cognitive (play skills):     7 mo
Fine motor:                          9 mo
Gross motor:                       6 mo
Receptive language:         7 mo
(understanding)
Expressive language:      5 mo
(talking)

**********

Bear

Growth Progress
Weight: 18 lb 0 oz               75%
Length: 26″                            45%
Head circ: 17 1/2″              90%

Bayley test scores: Age equivalent
Cognitive (play skills):       8 mo
Fine motor:                            9 mo
Gross motor:                         8 mo
Receptive language:          7 mo
(understanding)
Expressive language:        5 mo
(talking)

So, there you have it.  I had nothing to worry about!  The girls are either at, or above average in everything but their babbling.  Basically, they say “Da”, and they need to say one more consonant sound to go up a few months in their test scores.  I’m cool with that.  I’m so so happy they did so well!  It looks like I didn’t have anything to worry about after all.  I came out looking like a Supermom, and the girls are doing exceptionally well!  I love love LOVE that I have report cards to put on the fridge already!

I guess what it comes down to is that my kids are just naturally awesome at everything but communicating.  Just like their father.

One funny thing to note, Buddy was always a little bit behind in expressive language, but well ahead with his motor skills.  I’m curious if the girls will be going that same route.  Time will tell!

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