I signed up for those “Your pregnancy this week” emails somewhere around my 18th week when I was expecting Arlo. Despite having gone through pregnancy the previous year with my daughter, I still liked the knowing what was going on inside my belly week to week. One week he was growing eyelashes, and later he was practice breathing in my womb. It was a nice reminder and helped me connect with him as I followed his development.
After he was born, the emails began telling me what Arlo should be doing every week. Two weeks ago the email told me that my baby should be following me with his eyes and making solid eye contact. I couldn’t remember him ever doing that, so I began to take notice. I watched as he stared at the ceiling fan or looked at the contrasting light of our windows – but worried just a bit when I couldn’t get him to focus on me.
The next week the email said that he would probably start smiling at us and recognizing me when he saw me. This email freaked me out even more. I was still trying to get Arlo to follow me with his eyes and now he was supposed to recognize us and smile?!? Crap. This checklist of baby capabilities was piling up and we hadn’t checked off the first one. I found myself worrying that something could be wrong. “What if he’s not developing as he should be?” I kept thinking.
After a day or two of letting it concern me, I made the decision to unsubscribe from those weekly reminder emails. Arlo began following me with his eyes a week and a half after the email said he should be and I realized that he is going to reach his milestones on his own time. All those emails were doing were creating unnecessary anxiety on my part. There is no set deadline for when this little guy is going to learn to smile at us or grab his feet or roll over – he’ll figure it all out eventually.
In reality, his monthly well baby visits to his pediatrician are the best way to ensure that he is meeting all of his growth and development milestones on track. Not comparing him to other babies his age. Or to what his sister did before him. And most certainly not by checking off a list in a weekly email. I’ve got enough to worry and think about t0 ensure this sweet baby grows up happy and healthy, and this week I learned that I’m not about to let my inbox derail me of that goal.