When our son was born, I couldn’t wait for him to reach his next developmental milestone. Would he walk early like my brother? Or grow his baby teeth on time? His round little face and bright brown eyes were curious about everything and everyone. Would he be as engaging with new friends as he was with his family?
As the newborn months ended, our son met each stage on time and sometimes a little early. I imagine like most parents, I imagined him to be a buddy genius. Unfortunately, a two month illness ended all of these questions. Noah’s first cold persisted longer than we imagined and I no longer worried that he would walk or talk on time. I often just prayed that he would be able to breathe for the night. The only question I had for our frequent doctor’s appointments were to understand why our nine month old was so sick and how our doctor was going to fix it.
Years later, my wife and I would recognize this as a mini-training for the birth of our daughter. We learned patience by Noah’s PICU bedside that prepared us for her daily NICU visits. We were now experiencing our own set of developmental milestones. Patience, kindness, and compassion. Patience when the seventh pediatric visit resulted in another scheduled appointment to assess the same symptoms. Kindness, when you said good-bye to a parent whose child was life-starred to another hospital, and the prognosis was poor. Or compassion for myself when we failed to push for the next appointment or recognize our child was not progressing like her peers.
As I approach another new year, I think about what advice I would offer to my younger self:
- Perhaps, I would say that there is a beginning and end to every up and down.
- Breath through every crisis, even when your eleven month old stops breathing.
- The answer (or diagnosis) will come in time and don’t give up until the answer makes sense to you.
- You’re doing the best you can and you’ll still make mistakes. It’s OKAY!
- Most importantly I would offer, whatever you’re waiting for, in time it will come.
Enjoy every moment of this wild ride we call parenthood. You will learn so much about yourself and so much about the little ones we are blessed to raise.