Mama Magazin
4. April 2016

Is My Baby Normal?🇬🇧

Is my baby normal?
Is my baby normal?

I know that the title of this article isn’t perfect, and Julia asked me if I wanted to quantify it by saying „developing normally“ but the truth is, that this title is the exact question that was going through my head with my first baby.

I can write about it now, because she is five and everything is fine, but back when she was wee, it was a bit different. You think as a mum, that there probably isn’t a „normal“ to strive towards, but then you get bombarded with all of these emails (I like the babycenter and Hipp ones) who suggest where your baby could/should be at, plus the various apps you might use (I use „o je ich wachse“ which is a German one and tells you when they are into a growth phase). There are also the doctor’s check-ups with their tick lists and last but not at all least, the mummy meet ups with the inevitable „look what my baby can do“ moments.

My Baby L was born with hip dysplasia, which meant that her hips were not fused together properly, so she had to wear a little brace, which kept her hips in the right position and made her look like a frog! She got this when she was two days old and wore it until she was six weeks old, all day every day. After the six weeks, her hips were perfect which was a huge relief and everything carried on as normal.

Baby L did develop well and could roll over in one direction and do a kind of one sided army crawl by ten months, where she would drag her body along with astonishing commitment to get where she wanted to be, but there were no signs of crawling or sitting and one worrying development, was that she always seemed to fall onto the same spot on her head. Also, she always slept with her head straight forward, even when I bought an extra pillow to encourage some side sleeping, and as a result, her already large head (love you baby) was getting a bit flat at the back. This worried me the most.

While the other army-crawlers developed into proper crawlers and I watched them nap with their heads to one side, my baby carried on her determined body-drag and flat-back sleeping. Of course I asked the professionals; my pediatrician told me I should be grateful that she didn’t crawl so „she didn’t wear holes in her trousers“ (yes, we have since changed doctors). We also joined a playgroup run by a physiotherapist, and when I asked her to look at why Baby L wasn’t crawling, she tried to get her to climb up a foam slope, and held onto her legs a little to encourage her to push up her arms and go into all fours, but Baby L didn’t want to. The physio suggested that Baby L was „lazy“ and „needed to practice at home“. Writing this makes me swallow down angry tears even now, four years on, at the people who wrongly judged my baby! Seriously, a lazy baby who doesn’t want to explore the world?! My husband told me many times after I came home upset that I should maybe stop going to these meetings and comparing the babies, especially after one group member suggested Baby L had had a stroke. Of course he was right because it was hurting me, but in the end it took a good friend with some experience to point out the obvious!

One day my friend came over with her baby and was just watching them play around when she spotted Baby L’s signature body-drag and simply said „oh look, your baby can’t use her neck and shoulder muscles properly, my first son had that too and needed some help to release the blockage in the muscles“. She might as well have pulled out a magic wand. I nearly fell off the sofa, but then I was also cautious. This friend also happened to be a physiotherapist, but she said that the only reason she knew about this kind of issue was because her older son had had it, but not so severely. She gave me the number of a doctor in town who specialized in this. Apparently many babies have some sort of a sprain or pulled muscle after birth or maybe from using the brace we had for her hips.

End of the story is that we took her there, the doctor did some manual manipulation of the muscles in Baby L’s neck and shoulders and three days later she crawled. All that misery and it was solved in one sitting. Because Baby L had had this problem for a long time, she had never learned to catch herself using her hands when she fell, so we had to have physiotherapy for a few months after her initial treatment and get her more confident in using her arms to support herself.

Today she does gymnastics, football, swims and can use her arms to support herself. She still has a scar on her forehead because she fell so many times on this one spot when she was learning to walk, and her head is still not really round, but she has lots of hair! I now have Baby C and sometimes it makes me sad to see how easy she develops these things and her sister had such a struggle! But it is also such a relief to see her develop like a „normal“ baby. I also now watch youtube videos about baby development just to make sure that Baby C is fine too. I am not sure exactly why I am sharing this with you, maybe it’s just an interesting anecdote, or maybe I can encourage you to listen to the voice inside you too. I relied on the „experts“ to tell me what was wrong, when really I am also an „expert“ about my baby, because I spend 24/7 with her. Looking back I also wish I’d asked more people or got more opinions, but I suppose it’s just hindsight.

If you are feeling unsure about your baby’s development, get in touch with a medical professional that you trust! If they fob you off like mine did, go somewhere else and get it checked out.

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