When little Delaney was taken to the NICU with noticeable urgency, I made her a little deal in my head: you survive this, you can have anything you want. Always. A pony at 3? Okay. A new car at 12? Done.
Well, I guess she was listening. And my behavior in the subsequent months did a great deal to reinforce her status as a princess.
Let me be clear, I don't mean to imply that I felt favortism toward her, just an unreasonable protectiveness. I rarely let anyone else hold her, I fed her nearly all her bottles, she slept in her car seat next to me in the bed, etc., etc., etc. I was terrified that her fragile beginnings would make her more susceptible to illness, injury, or another malady.
Infants are brilliant. While some of their systems are just jumbles of disconnected information searching for order, their base intuitions are very sharp. For example, when they handed me Drew in the operating room, she immediately calmed and fell asleep. For two days, she was inconsolable unless Cassie or I were holding her. She knew her mothers, and I believe this was only partially from memories in the womb. Humans have thrived for thousands of years because of such instincts.
Well, Delaney picked up on this little chink in my armor... and exploited the hell out of it.
We started the kids on "supervised tummy time" at about one month. Devynn wasn't a fan, but usually just dozed off. Drew would enjoy it for a while, then whine until we moved her to another position. We would place Delaney onto her tummy and she would unload in a heart-wrenching, soul-splitting howl. Giant tears flooded her eyes as she looked at us af if we had betrayed her at the deepest level. That effectively ended that day's tummy time.
She worked this little routine for months. And months and months. When she was six months old, she still freaked out within minutes of being placed on her tummy. She hated it, and only the most cold-hearted could allow such suffering to continue. Drew was rolling from front to back. Devynn was rolling from back to front. They were beginning to scoot around on their butts and tummies. And then there was Delaney. Perfectly content to sit quietly on Cathy's lap or in her bouncy seat, or in an Exersaucer, Bumbo, or any other contraption which kept her out of harm's way.
When we visited the Mary Bridge Neo-natal follow-up program initially, they expressed only mild concern about Delaney's gross motor skills. She seemed a bit behind, but nothing terribly unusual for a preemie. However, at her second visit, they were alarmed at her delay. They scheduled a follow up to track her progress and see if more frequent physical therapy was required.
When we brought her in again, the physical therapist worked with her for a few minutes, and next thing I know, she's got Delaney wrapped around her waist, koala style, with Laney in full cuddle mode. I smirked a bit. I thought, "Huh. Guess we're not the only ones who can't resist her charms." But she wouldn't let go. The therapist tried unsuccessfully no less than 5 times to set her on the floor, but Delaney held on like hot duct tape. Then it was the therapist's turn to smirk. She said, "I believe I see the problem."
Turns out we (okay, okay... I...) had literally SPOILED Delaney into a gross motor skill delay. She had all the skill sets and musculature to perform the tasks in quesiton, but absolutely no desire to do so. The physical therapist told us enough was enough. We were to stiffen our upper lips and let this kid do some growing up.
Well, she's a stubborn one. While she did begin scooting just a few days after this appointment, she still refuses to crawl in the traditional hand-knee formation. She uses one foot, one knee, her butt and one hand. It's cute, but quite inefficient.
Devynn began walking at 10 months, 8 days old. Since preemies are often considered by their "Corrected Age", this would make her 9 months old on the nose when she started walking. Dang impressive! Drew began walking at 10 months, 23 days. Also remarkable!
Then there's Delaney. She'll stand from time to time, but then gets stuck in standing position and can't figure out how to get down. She just stands there and cries until one of us comes to her rescue. Now, this is not terribly unusual, and her development is catching up exponentially. But she lets us know that she is working on HER time schedule, and we need not hurry her along.
I think Delaney will always do things in her little way. There are times when she gives me a little sideways glance, I suspect she remembers our little negotiation, and she'll always know how to work me...