Wednesday 22 September 2010

Ill-prepared - Life with a Toddler

Etymology: ME, toteren, to walk unsteadily
a child between 12 and 36 months of age. During this period of development the child acquires a sense of autonomy and independence through the mastery of various specialized tasks such as control of body functions, refinement of motor and language skills, and acquisition of socially acceptable behavior, especially toleration of delayed gratification and acceptance of separation from the mother or parents. The period is characterized by exploration of the environment and rapid cognitive development as the child strives for self-assertion and personal interaction with others while struggling with parental discipline and sibling rivalry. Of primary importance for the nurse is an understanding of the dynamics of the growth and development of the toddler to help parents deal effectively with appropriate nutrition, toilet training, temper tantrums, prevention of accidental injury (primarily from falls, poisoning, and burns), and childhood fears, especially anxiety as a result of separation from the parents.
I am a reader, a researcher, I like to know my subject. When I was pregnant I devoured pregnancy books, magazines and articles. I started to read baby books. I was so excited about being mother to a baby. Now I am not sure whether this is a premmie mum thing, or just a general thing, or specific to me, but I am so not prepared for life with a small.......person.

Like most parents of premature babies, we found Joseph's beginning scary. We were given the worst case scenario, home on oxygen, PEG fed through a tube in the stomach - probably for life, and our first years in and out of hospital with chest infections. I spent the whole of last year with my heart in my mouth waiting for the hammer to fall. I felt so confused when this baby, who I expected to be weak and poorly, was just small. We've only darkened the door of the hospital for routine visits and a minor operation on a hernia.

Now my major concerns are things like coping with teething, dealing with separation anxiety, helping Joseph to explore his environment without a) serious injury b) giving me a heart attack.

Joseph is headstrong, charming, funny, frustrating, infuriating, gorgeous, lovable and kind. He is a person, with a strong personality. I don't know what I expected.....I was not prepared. I feel like I wasted all those delightful baby days being in a state of high anxiety, and now, I have a toddler! 

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