It was unknown really, as it is with most babies, when Clara would hit ‘normal’ milestones. When babies her age start to sit, crawl, babble – what would Clara be doing?
The crucial first six months of a baby’s life have a lot to do with this. Do they spend most of it laying down, upright? Are they immersed amongst different sights, sounds, smells? What difference does spending the first six months in hospital make?
Sitting and seeing
Every baby is different. But every parent compares. We can’t help it, we think we’re doing it to help them but actually it’s to reassure us.
Clara currently loves sitting and standing (both with support still). She launches around in her jumperoo now, a noticeable difference in the last few weeks. She stands on the floor, both feet flat, playing with the built in toys. Seconds later, she pushes off and catapults diagonally, bouncing back into place soon after. She twists and turns, looking at all of the toys around her, grabbing and pulling. Neither her feet nor her hands stay still.
Reclining is no longer an option for Clara, her bouncer frustrates her. She doesn’t want to lay back when there’s a whole world to sit up and see.
When we go shopping, Clara sits in the pushchair. If it’s food shopping, I’ll usually wear her in the sling to keep both my hands free. For the first time yesterday, I put her in a big girls seat in the trolley. She loved it! She would stare at people, eyes boring into their backs until they turned around and, without fail, smiled at her. Clara would then grin back and look around for her next friend!
Clara doesn’t sit for very long unsupported. Or if she does, she’s bent far forwards playing with a toy or her toes. She’ll then pulse upwards, sit up straight, look around and lower half way again. But with just a small amount of lower back support, she’d sit up all day.
Tummy time. In the traditional sense, ie actually on the tummy, Clara hasn’t had loads of this given everything that’s gone on with her bowel. We probably could have pushed her further but at the time it always felt too soon. But she has spent a lot of time upright so she’s developed good strength. She’ll happily go on her tummy, but she gets bored quickly. I think once she’s learnt to crawl she’ll not mind it as she’ll know she can be on the move. Clara, like her mummy, is not one for sitting still for long.
Hearing and sounds
There’s still a huge amount of unknown surrounding Clara’s ability to hear. Previously, her brain tests indicated she could only hear sounds over 90dB (a pneumatic still), but behaviour response tests, ie physically turning to a sound in the room, showed us she was acknowledging 60dB – a moderate to loud conversation. We don’t know if she can always hear at this level, or if it’s only when everything around her is silent, or if it’s just ad hoc. Her diagnosis of auditory neuropathy makes it difficult to find out more.
Some of the key indicators are the noises Clara makes (are they distinguished sounds with varying tone and pitch) and whether it’s “conversational”, ie we can take it in turns to talk.
Very recently, Clara has significantly increased the amount of babbling she does, making clearer sounds than she has done before:
We return to audiology next month for another behaviour test, and then the decision will be made as to whether we trial hearing aids or not. I’m confident Clara is hearing more sounds than we are currently giving her credit for – she responds so well at times to regular voices and conversation, it’s hard to believe otherwise. On this basis, how do we ensure her hearing aids don’t cause further damage? I want whatever is best for her of course, but we can’t rush this.
Until we know more, we won’t make any decisions. We will carry on, having fun, and enjoying this wonderful long summer.