by Rachel Zook
I will never forget the day I bought Emma’s baby book. I was so excited to be having my first precious child, and I spent an hour picking out the perfect baby book. I took it home and started filling it out that night with all the information I already could fill in. Then came the day of Emma’s birth, and, well, things went a little crazy from there.
I remember wanting so badly to fill in more details in her book, but where was the spot for the length of NICU stay, first MRI, first IV, first ambulance ride, or number of surgeries? There were no blanks for those types of things, but I did fill in her birth stats and put a few pictures in before sadly closing the book, with hopes that someday soon her medical history would be behind us.
Every few months I would take out her baby book and vainly look for voids to write new dates in. But as badly as I wanted to be able to fill in things like first time to sit up, first time to roll over, first time to crawl, I could not fill those blanks in. Slowly, I dreaded even seeing the book I loved so much.
One day when she was almost two and still not walking or talking, I gave up. I threw the baby book in the bottom of my hope chest and only took it out on her birthday to write about her party. Her doctors originally told us that in six or seven months after her birth she would be good to go and move on with her life, but that was not to be the case. She was slow to make progress and still has multiple medical struggles even at age five.
I had finally reached the point where I had to make a choice: be sad for what she could not do or rejoice in the progression she was making, no matter how slow! I looked at myself in the mirror and said, enough is enough, we will from now on focus on what I call inchstones and not worry about the milestones. They will come when she is ready.
It was so freeing! I learned to rejoice with Emma at every tiny step along her bumpy path. A new word said aloud can lead to a celebratory dance party, or reaching a new physical therapy goal can mean a trip to a favorite park to play on the slides. We do not dwell on where she should be; we celebrate where she is now. Our little family has been blessed to not have ignored or passed over the little things our precious daughter does. Her every smile and step is a miracle and blessing to us.
Then, when those major milestones are finally achieved, we really party it up. Normally that is a special outing or a trip to the toy store. But those moments are no more special than seeing her smile and watching her walk more and more each day. Those major moments only happen because of the joyous inches she gained through hard work and dance parties.
Good-bye baby book full of milestones and hello joy in the process.