This is the first installment of the story of our journey with Maura…
In the beginning, she was normal. After nine months of a normal pregnancy, and nine days of being overdue (which was not normal for me), and after several hours of a completely normal labor, Maura was born. Normal. She was eight and a half pounds of healthy baby, and a happy addition to the family. Her brothers and sister made it their duty to watch her, entertain her, let me know she was crying (because apparently, they felt I was deaf to all her cries.)
Maura was a very laid back happy baby who slept well. (Really, the “slept well” part was a sign. And I don’t mean that facetiously – it was a sign, we just didn’t know it yet.) The only things that would set Maura off were car seats and baths. She hated both, and reacted to both as if set on fire. I took to sponge baths and never driving more than 15 minutes away from the house with her in the car. But otherwise, she was this calm happy baby. We’d fight over who got to hold her, because she was such a calming influence – you’d end up falling asleep with her half the time. She ate well, she smiled early, she rolled over pretty much on time, and grew lots.
Everything was normal the first few months.
People are always surprised to hear this. With today’s medical breakthroughs and technology, most people find out before their child is born that there might be something different. Or, upon giving birth, the differences are noticed. Or they spend months with a colicky inconsolable baby. None of this was true for us. We had this sweet little thing that loved to snuggle, who’d scoot herself into a corner of the bassinet to snuggle into to sleep, who loved watching her siblings and smiled and drooled on everyone happily. The excessive drooling was probably a sign. But again, we didn’t know it. The sleeping, the drooling, the hatred of car seats and baths – all signs. I’m pretty sure this is why they call Hindsight a bitch.
When Maura was about six months old, I began to get this worry in the back of my brain, as she wasn’t sitting up yet. Collin didn’t master sitting up until well into his six month, so at the appointment, we weren’t too worried about her not mastering this skill. But then six months became seven. Seven became eight. And still, she wasn’t able to really sit up. I bought one of those exersaucers to help Maura learn to sit up- something completely unnecessary with my other kids – by seven months, they were cruising. By nine months, they were walking. There was a small voice in my head going “Something’s not right here.” But I’d been dealing with post-partum depression, my anxiety levels were all over the place, and no one else said anything seemed odd about Maura. So I kept my worries to myself and convinced myself she was a late bloomer. My older three did everything so early, the idea of what “normal” babies did was a mystery to me.
Go figure – it still is.
Eventually she did learn to sit up, then crawl, and pull up. Maura was still happy and healthy, growing and learning to do stuff. She was in many ways, the best baby in the world, our Maura. Goofy and sweet, with dimples and big blue eyes and ears that made her look a bit elfish. I put her in outfits to match her sister, and wondered what kind of mischief they would get into in the coming years. I pulled Legos out of her mouth and clapped as she pulled up at the coffee table. I started planning for her first birthday party. I stopped worrying as much.
I should have kept worrying. Again, Hindsight. I really don’t like her.