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The Half Way Mark

We’ve passed the half way mark - on two counts. Toddler Eliza has now lived in the USA just over half her life and Number Two is 20 weeks through its stint in Uterusville. The toddler shows no sign of an American accent and in fact says ‘nooo’ with such Scottish gusto Shrek himself would be proud. The baby-to-be hasn’t yet shown preference for hamburgers or haggis as I can’t find a butcher here brave enough to stock the latter.

Time’s a funny thing – it manages to fly by but can creep painstakingly slowly at times...

When we first moved to the States back in February Eliza was just eight months and could do very little. When I wasn’t mastering driving on the opposite side of the road, forgetting to halt for school buses and missing Stop signs, those wintery days were very long indeed, just her, me and the neon stacking cups.

Back then was physical milestone making time for Eliza’s comrades. At library classes, I watched as her peers accomplished giant feats of crawling, pulling up, cruising. Meanwhile Eliza just sat, usually flipping through books, showing no sign of going anywhere and even less of a desire to. On the outside I applauded those infants back-flipping around my baby. Inside, however, a knot of anxiety was growing ever tighter – was there something wrong with her?

Other mums kept saying I should enjoy her lack of mobility while it lasted but I found it a bitter pill to swallow. In my eyes, the baby equivalent of tight-rope walking and bungee-jumping was being accomplished by gymnastic infants all around Eliza as she grazed contently through the pages of ‘Each Peach, Pear, Plum’.  I wanted her to be doing what the others were doing. That surely meant she was normal right?

Parents, especially new ones, do this. We benchmark our babies against other little ones. It’s perfectly natural - after all, the other infants in your circle are often the only gauge you have of what babies do. But as always, I was an extreme case, not helped by pediatricians referring to her lack of crawling a-go-go as ‘strange’ and ‘unusual’.

Of course, just as I was picturing the worst, she crawled. It happened so quickly, I almost didn’t notice. She was later than most and as she continued achieving other treasured physical milestones of babyhood, the time pattern stayed the same. The joy I felt when she took her first steps at 14 months was surpassed only by relief. I thought it’d never come and had wondered how many brides crawl up the aisle on their wedding day. If only I’d just accepted she’d do things in her own sweet Eliza time....

I think now of all the parents who’ve seen me with Eliza and stopped me in random places – airports, supermarkets, the bra section at Target. ‘Enjoy this time,’ they’d all say, gazing wistfully at her, then wagging a finger at me, ‘Before you know it she’ll be bringing home boys/ breaking your heart/ drinking your vodka/ driving your car [delete as appropriate]’. Though some alarmed me, I appreciated their sentiment. But it’s only now, looking back at what she’s achieved in her time State-side that I really understand it.

Okay, so these folk mean the ‘future’, future - Eliza’s not even capable of climbing down stairs by herself yet, so I’m thinking my gin stash is still safe. Even still it is incredible what these little people achieve in a short time. Instead of ticking off those milestones and willing her to the next one before she’d caught her breath, I should’ve enjoyed them for what they’re worth. More importantly by agonising over them, I failed to appreciate the stuff she was coming along with beautifully, like language.

Meanwhile, left to his or her own devices, Number Two is comfortably achieving all its milestones – organs developed, eyelids and fingernails complete, nervous system now working. See what happens without perpetual prodding from an over-anxious mother....!

I’d like to think it’ll be different when Number Two arrives. Parents of two+ kids tell me there’s simply not the time to spend pondering over such things anymore – apparently I’ll be too busy extracting toddlers’ fingers from plug sockets, scrubbing marker pen off the walls, or hunting once again for the TV remote control.

Time crops up again and again when discussing Number Two. I’m told there isn’t the time for scheduling baby naps at home as Eliza will need ferried places to meet demands of an ever-increasing social calendar, there isn’t as much scope for one-on-one baby play time, etc – it goes on....

I may regret saying this but truth be told, I welcome the lack of time Number Two will bring. It won’t be easy at first but once we’ve found our vibe, a baby learning to sleep on the go and one able to entertain itself will surely be a good thing in the long run? Here’s hoping....

Plus, with time at a premium, I’ll be less able to indulge in worrying. And released from the clutches of my anxiety, who knows what that’ll mean for Number Two. Hang the physical milestones! He or she will probably be flying light aircraft by 24 months....