Nothing compares to Coraline
When I was compiling my blog post about Top Ten things Coraline has taught us, my sister-in-law sent a point for it which arrived just after I’d put the post up. She said:
In a world of 11+ exams, tutors and competitive parenting, her arrival has shown me that love and care for your child reign supreme when considering their needs.
I remember replying at the time that I had recently listened to an excellent podcast on @lewishowes from a surfer @markmathewssurf who said, "don't compare yourself to anyone else, only to how you were yesterday".
Funnily enough comparison came up whilst having dinner with a friend this week and chatting about our young babies. She was saying that it’s very hard not to compare how your baby is doing, based on when other babies do things. I felt wholehearted in my reply when I said it doesn’t even cross my mind. And that I steadfastly know that any child will reach any milestone whenever it’s their time and they’ll do it in their own fashion, time and style! And isn’t that to be relaxed into and celebrated?
I realised how Coraline has actually liberated me from comparing, as I don’t think about it at all. It’s as if I just know there’s no point, as she’s on her own trajectory. I know she will reach her milestones whenever she is ready and I feel at ease and excited about this.
Our beloved Paediatrician, Dieudonné, said that at this age (seven months) babies with Down's syndrome can be three months behind developmentally and that at 18months old, as Paediatricians, they accept development to be up to six months behind.
I do recall the time Kevin and I met up with our group of four other Antenatal couples from our wonderful Antenatal class Noobies in a pub on a Sunday for lunch. Coraline was just over three months old. We’d probably been a bit cocooned in terms of how Coraline was getting along and I remember sitting at the table and looking across at one of the beautiful babies in our group who was born only a few weeks after Coraline, and she was sat there sitting up straight, able to balance herself upright on her mum’s knee. I remember actually feeling surprised. I wish I could pinpoint how I felt. I felt a sadness I think, and a wistfulness. I think it was not until that point that I understood the fact of Coraline having low muscle tone. I wondered whether to talk to Kevin about it because Kevin is so positive and I didn’t feel he’d have even remarked upon what I had noticed. I didn’t mention it to him in the car home.
Later, I did mention it to him on Sunday evening at home in a roundabout way whilst I was hanging up some washing to try to be casual and he said, “Oh yes, I felt that too,” and he said, "it was actually a seminal moment for me because I hadn't really thought it was an option for her to be holding her head up, and I had been feeling a bit down about it". It was such a relief to hear him say that. A relief to know he’d felt it too. Then we said to each other, “why do we feel this way? Why does it matter?” And since then, since talking about it then, I can honestly say we haven’t felt that way since. Perhaps it was the initial shock; it was the first time we really saw things were a bit different for us, followed by acceptance.
We just know Coraline is her own person and these thoughts have been released to the winds of life. I know what our awesome Antenatal group would have said if I’d told them at the time, “uhhh wasn’t Coraline rolling at seven weeks old?” And they’d have gone on to say, “my baby does this thing but they don’t do that thing or that thing yet, all in time.” What I love about our group is that we don’t compare, we just share and encourage and celebrate our babies.
Anyway, I am happy that Coraline inspired that thought for my sister-in-law that it all just comes back to love. As that’s what it does come back to, and it’s the abiding thing of everything Coraline is teaching us; that all things come back to love. Both love for ourselves and love for her. Incidentally Coraline doesn’t sit up straight yet on my knee, but that’s just a sidenote.