The Aptitude of Parents

“It is not the strength of the man’s muscles that beats the other man; it is the strength of the man’s mind that over-came him” – Anonymous

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough- Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell

Today, Ashleigh met with the physical/speech therapist who told us that because of Gracie’s prematurity and level two brain hemorrhaging that more than likely Gracie will need orthopedic inserts for walking, walking assistance or wheelchair because of the effect of the bleeding on the part of the brain which assists in the processes of gross motor skills. We were told that excessive bleeding in the brain could force us to have a delay in gross motor skills development similar to that of a down syndrome infant. Gross motor skills are responsible for large muscle group coordination which work together for tasks such as walking, sitting, kicking and throwing a ball.  In a normal infant, the muscle groups usually develop from top to bottom meaning that a baby can control their head first to track objects and as they progress the motor skills below their head develop.  How quickly Gracie’s gross motor skills develop will result from her gains in muscle tone and strength.  Gross motor skills are the underlying foundation for fine  motor skills such as writing, sitting in an erect position and participating in a classroom setting. All which could  hinder Gracie’s classroom performance.

 As of right now, Gracie is still in an incubator, but in due time she will be on an activity mat, wrestling, singing, building, crawling  or playing tug of war with me. We have two years to come from behind and not one day will be wasted. Her life will become my version of Cinderella because everyone likes to watch a come from behind victory.

Personally, I am getting tired of these worst case scenarios everyone presents to us, because it is always so negative. Most of these specialists make judgements based upon statistics and research, but it amazes me how  they never use outliers. I refuse to believe that they haven’t come across some amazing recoveries.  As Ashleigh delivers this bit of heart wrenching news, I recall the only piece of  evidence of overcoming adverse odds. It came from Ashleigh’s favorite neonatologist after Gracie had her PDA surgery. He mentioned to me that out of 100 babies of Gracie’s gestational age, he has only see five as energetic or active as Gracie under full sedation. This makes me wonder exactly what Gracie has in store for me in the near future.

The physical therapist, however, did mention that things were promising because Gracie was so active with her wailing arms and legs kicking out of the swaddle. She wanted us to swaddle while making sure her legs were up to her chest but to also lift Gracie’s back while changing her diaper to develop back muscles and strengthen her trunk. It’s like us strengthening our core, but in preemie form.  Pushing her legs up to her chest strengthens her leg muscles which I couldn’t understand, because from day one she was kicking everything and everyone away from her legs. It takes us twenty minutes to swaddle her tightly and 5 minutes for her to punch and kick out of the swaddle. Which is followed by her yawning and stretching as a sign of complete satisfaction. I warned her that when she comes home there is something called a swaddler which she shouldn’t be able to kick out of. I am determined to have the last laugh.

 The kicking and flailing reminds Ashleigh of what it felt like when she was pregnant. Gracie hates things which cover her legs up. She also has some of the strongest calf muscles on an infant I have ever seen in my life. They are toned and deserve to be in one of those Skechers tone ups commercials.

All we can do now is infant massage in which we rub her muscles down with baby lotion to make Gracie aware that they are there and to stimulate them. Muscles are a lot like God-given talents, they can easily be forgotten and wasted when not utilized to their full potential during our short lifetimes.


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