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One Mommy Worry Down, Two Billion More To Go

I haven’t been as diligent on
reading up on developmental milestones with Cora as I was with
Maddie. I’m pretty confident I can recognize if Cora’s
“normal” or not, and know how to stimulate a kid, if I
do say so myself. But I do periodically pick up a baby book and
read up on where Cora “should” be developmentally,
usually much to my husband’s dismay.

Because as practical and level-headed as I am, that all goes out
the window with a child. I think Cora’s doing great and am
perfectly happy with her status when the doctor casually mentions
she’d like to see Cora pushing up a bit better, which is the
point at which I freak out and fall apart. These things crop up
periodically and I try to simply get through them quickly with the
least amount of embarrassment (my own).

Such a situation occurred only recently,
in fact. Just after Cora turned six months I decided to check in
with the “experts” and read up on six month behavior.
And there it is right in front of me – a plain expectation
that six-month-olds should be sitting all on their own.

To call me panicked would not be an exaggeration. Cora
couldn’t sit up! I’d prop her to sitting and
she’d slowly wilt forward into a graceless face plant, then
stay there until rescued. I’d thought she was fine, but the
book clearly expected six-month-olds to be able to sit and balance
by themselves as they prepare to tackle crawling.

I kicked into high gear. First, the remorse and self-flagellation:
I am a bad mother. I do not stimulate my child enough. I plant her
on a play mat and ignore her, clearly to the detriment of her
development and future chances at Harvard.

Second, the remedy: Super Attentive Mommy. We began a daily regimen
of “sit-up time”, with Cora propped into sitting,
pillows surrounding her for her eventual topple forward. The book
suggested putting toys just out of baby’s reach so baby would
want to pick up arms and lunge forward for the toy, initiating a
crawling motion and encouraging balance. I put the toys out, just
beyond arms reach. Cora gracelessly face planted, this time onto
the toys.

More panic. If Cora can’t balance while sitting, how will she
ever learn to sit herself up from lying down? And if she
can’t do this, how will she ever learn to crawl? She will be
in sixth grade and still be relegated to a stroller full-time.

Let me say here, too, that Cora was an early roller and has taken
to this with much enthusiasm. She can cross a room in just a few
minutes simply by rolling, pivoting, and scooching. She’s
gone from hating tummy time to preferring it at all costs, enjoying
the propped-up position as a better way to see the world. So I knew
the kid had potential.

I renewed my efforts. Propping Cora up in sitting amongst the
pillows, I handed her the toy, trying to start small. I figured she
was propped up within an inch of her life and had no choice but to
sit up, thus leaving her hands free to play with the toy and her
body free to practice balancing.

The result? Cora grabbed the toy from my hands and promptly
launched herself forcefully backwards against the pillows. Once
she’d achieved a prone position, she kicked the other pillows
away, rolled onto her tummy, and proceeded to play with her toy.

Huh. Apparently Cora CAN sit up; she simply chooses not to. This
was indeed reinforced just a couple days ago, in a most dramatic

Trying to get the room straightened up, I wedged Cora into the
corner of our couch. Put tightly between the back cushions and the
arm cushions, there was no way she could roll and was thus in a
safe position. Confident, I walked to the other end of the couch
and began clearing the end table when something flashed in the
corner of my eye.

I looked over and Cora, as if drawn by a magnet, levered straight
up into a sitting position – ALL BY HERSELF. But she
didn’t stop there, no. She continued inexorably forward,
peering over the edge of the couch as if to say, “I wonder
what’s down there,” and fell silently like a stone over
the edge. Face first.

Huh. Apparently Cora can sit up by herself now, too.

I entered that moment in the action movie when the hero yells,
“NOOO!” and lunges in slow-motion for the falling
bomb/radioactive isotope/grenade, reaching desperately with my
fingertips for an extra inch’s length.

I caught Cora by her face, my body sprawled out on the floor, her
belly dropping into my other hand a moment later. I pulled myself
shakily to standing and hugged my baby, who looks at me as if to
say, “What’s the deal? I was about to explore!”

So, I can cross those developmental delay worries off my list. Now
onto all the other worries –

Babyproofing, here we come.


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