Since Clara turned one I’d been meaning to check when her next review was with her community paediatrician. The role of community paeds with Clara is to check she’s meeting her development milestones, considering the start in life she had – both in terms of exposure to hard medical drugs, time spent restricted in a hospital bed, and her malnutrition.

A quick phone call (they phoned me – very proactive) and she was booked to go in a few days later. An incredibly quick turn around which is fantastic given all the strains the NHS is under – but also now I’m back at work means a practical reshuffle of work/childcare.

Community paeds offer an umbrella of support for Clara. They look overall at her health, her physical mobility, communications methods, speech, hearing, how she plays and interacts. If any raise concern, they can refer us to the relevant specialists for detailed assessments. They’re an invaluable service for patients like us who see a wide spectrum of people who have specialists focus, but little holistic view.

Clara spent the morning and ate lunch with her childminder – I love how happy she is there and I rarely want to take her away from it if I have to. The social buzz, new environments, time away from home and parents – its so important for her. But by early afternoon, we were in our usual spot queuing for a parking space at the children’s hospital and Clara was power napping in the car.

Balancing the day around an appointment can be tricky. Babies (can I still call her that?) like routine, and appointments don’t. Audiology often want her asleep for their assessment, but for community paeds Clara needs to be full of energy and wanting to play.

So, in the waiting room, I knew it was important to get Clara engaged with what was around her. She was walking along the bookcase (holding on with both hands), playing with large puzzle pieces, and watching the other children, fascinated as they ran around the room.

Then the appointment began, and it was up to Clara to show off her abilities.

You don’t need me to tell you that of course Clara aced it.

At one point Clara was handed a pencil and we waited and watched to see what she’d do with it, considering there was a piece of paper on the table in front of her. Slowly, she turned the pencil around, observing the difference at each end. Then, she put lead to paper, made a few light scribbles, and glanced up smugly. What?! The closest we’d got to that at home was attempting to eat the crayons. How does she do it?

Overall, Clara is developing in line with her age – fantastic. There are a few things we need to keep an eye on though.

Clara’s still not standing unaided. She’ll happily ‘furniture surf’, but only when there’s something to hold onto. She’ll get there, but we just need to keep an eye on it. And if she’s not walking by 18 months we’ll go back for further assessment. She’s got some muscle tone in her legs that shouldn’t be there and she walks stiffly. She hasn’t learned to bend her knees yet – I wonder if she even can?

Our wonderful paed Doctor said it’s not a case of will she or won’t she walk (that was a consideration we had to stay open to a year ago), she will walk. She might need some support, some physio, or just time.

We all know Clara will do things in her own time though. Besides, walking independently is a whole new chapter!

I’m off to source those stair gates…

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