The fork in the road
It’s hard to describe how we felt once Dotty had stopped having her turns because I don’t suppose we really believed that they wouldn’t come back. If I’m honest, I still look at her movements now and wonder if she’s about to start wigging out. I’m much better at managing that fear these days but it’s still there.
Back then we would acknowledge each ‘episode’ free day with a little wink, tearful hug, hi-5, etc, trying not to get too carried away. After a month or so, we talked about it much less until one day we realised she’d been clear for over 4 months!! Things felt different and dare I say it, almost NORMAL (or at least our version of normal). Anxiety and stress were replaced with smiles, laughter and arguments over things like the temperature of her room (see… normal!). Don’t get me wrong, it was still a right slog at times but that’s just part and parcel of having a baby right? Nothing to see here except 2 sleep deprived, poo obsessed, parent wankers that think their baby is the chosen one just like everybody else. Excellent.
Dotty continued to take meds for her Reflux (and constipation) but that just became part of our daily routine. It didn’t hold us back, in fact if gave us confidence to venture out more and enjoy ourselves. We decided to take our first family trip to Northleach in May to celebrate our anniversary and stayed at the Wheatsheaf Inn for 3 nights. It wasn’t too far a drive, which made it easier and the hotel staff were very lovely and accommodating. We took Dotty’s hammock and set it up in our room along with pretty much everything else we ever bought her, because “you never know!” (I’m pretty certain I packed a fur-trimmed snowsuit in case we got caught in a blizzard. It was May.)
We ate in the hotel bar/restaurant both nights and hired a lovely lady from Rocking Horse Nannies to sit in our room and watch over her whilst we got tipsy downstairs. It’s possible that more relaxed parents might’ve simply taken their monitor to dinner – The Gardners however, were much less easy breezy and instead, coughed up a small fortune for a sitter and it was SO worth it. The weekend was perfect. It felt like a huge achievement for us to get away and spend some quality time together, even if we did row about me forgetting the Calpol. (In my defence I remembered the fur-trimmed snowsuit!)
Life was good and so were we. Dotty was changing fast, filling out, looking more alert and even started to dabble in happier emotions.
NEWSFLASH – “The most serious baby in UK history finally cracks a smile. Parents are overcome with joy as ‘Judgy Dotty’ finally gives it up.”
We began popping her in all manner of baby merch, from Bumbo to Jumperoo to tease out more chuckles, papping her left, right and centre, my main concern was how I was ever going to find enough iphone storage to carry on documenting her every move.
As I grew into, what may be perceived as the most prolific instagramming baby spammer ever, time passed quickly and suddenly it was September.
It’s worth clarifying that even after she stopped having her turns back in May, we’d still check in regularly with her Consultant to keep tabs on the dosage of her meds and her progression overall. Some time before, we’d noticed that she appeared to have quite a weak neck, meaning her head would go from being held upright to resting unnaturally on her left shoulder as if it had buckled. It looked odd and made me uneasy but it didn’t bother her in the slightest. We decided to keep an eye on it & raise it at her next check up. In that session, her Consultant began talking to us about her development. We knew she was a bit behind compared to other babies in her age group but she’d had such a shitty start in life, I didn’t blame her for wanting to take it easy for a bit. He didn’t seem overly worried as he asked us questions, rattling off milestones that we shook our head at or answered “no” to. Then towards the end of the meeting he told us that he planned to refer us to a local Physiotherapist who would give Dotty the once over to assess her neck and general movements overall. Nothing to worry about. Just routine.
Unaware at the time, that appointment was the part of Dot’s story where things would change. It was the fork in the road if you will, where we moved beyond Reflux and started to unravel what else might be at work. It’s the moment we started to think “why was Dotty behind and was it anything we should be concerned about? Maybe it didn’t matter, maybe she was just taking her time and we should cut her some sodding slack! After all, anyone that’s looked at or even smelt a rugrat these days, let alone birthed one, will tell you “every baby is different’ so that’s probably it. We won’t panic, we’ll just wait and see what the Physio says.”
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