I will always remember the date, October 20, 2005 as the day my life changed. That is the day my wife and I welcomed our son Zachary into the world. I quickly learned of all the joy and fears having a child can bring you. Natural birth we found out after several hours would not be possible for our son, he would be delivered by cesarean. In the end though, everything went well for our son and my wife after his birth and during recovery.
As any new parents, we were extremely excited and nervous at the same time about the challenges and joys our son would provide for us. Early on like most children he slept a lot. Our first disappointment as parents came about three weeks after Zachary’s birth. While my wife hoped to breastfeed him, it just wasn’t meant to be. He was not getting the amount of milk he needed so we resorted to bottle feeding. Overall he was a very happy baby, usually content and when he wasn’t a bottle would usually be just what he needed.
As the holiday season approached we were looking forward to spending our first Christmas with our son. Just after Thanksgiving though we started noticing he would “projectile vomit” about an hour after his bottle. We visited the doctor and they felt it might be acid reflux. After several weeks though it became clear the medicine wasn’t working. The doctor changed his medicine and scheduled more tests for him after Christmas. Christmas turned out to be a hard time for us, because we realized he wasn’t getting any better. He had one of his worst episodes on Christmas Night at my Aunt’s.
Several days later we took him for tests and found out he needed an upper General Intestinal test to rule out Pyloric Stenosis. Unfortunately, the test did not rule it out but made it clear he had the condition. We had to go to Children’s Hospital in Washington, DC, and ended up spending New Year’s weekend there as he recovered from the surgery. In the end though he went home a healthy baby and we were assured the condition would not return. They were correct, he started to develop as any healthy, happy baby would and we enjoyed every moment with him.
Through ages three to six months he progressed slowly and was slightly behind in crawling and rolling, but otherwise was a perfectly happy baby boy. At his six month appointment our doctor gave us some more bad news though. His head was off the charts as far as size related to his peers and they needed him to be tested for hydrocephalus (water on the brain), the test at six months proved inconclusive so they asked us to have another at nine months. We agreed and watched him progress more as he started to do things children his age do such as smiling, playing, and learning to roll.
At nine months they were afraid the test might be showing a patch of fluid on his brain, so off to the hospital we went, to John’s Hopkins in Baltimore. With our luck with hospitals we went in fearing the worst and being prepared to deal with it after researching the condition. We ended up leaving the hospital after a quick appointment though with very good news, the neurologist said that there was no hydrocephaly and our son just had a big head and would grow into it!
That was a huge fear lifted from us and once again we started to enjoy everything our son did. He became more playful and started to even try to imitate sounds at times. The only thing was he wasn’t showing many signs of being able to crawl or walk. Our pediatrician told us about the “Infants and Toddlers Program” in our county which provided free physical therapy visits for children that were 25% behind in development. We took him for a consultation and they decided he should start an eight appointment plan. During that plan we saw him progress rather quickly, it wasn’t long before he was mobile.
He was crawling all over the place just in time for his first birthday in October. We had all our family there to celebrate with him. It had been a hard year, but he had passed all his challenges. Everyone was ready to celebrate. He had his little chocolate cake cupcake which of course he made a mess with, laughing and looking at all his guests. After his birthday his physical therapy appointments continued and he continued to progress. We were ready for our second holiday season with our son. This time there would be no repetitive visits to the pediatrician’s office and to hospitals. Our son got to enjoy his second holiday season as did we.
The holidays were great, he went with us to the malls and restaurants while we shopped, being pushed in his stroller enjoying all the holiday sights and sounds and the whole experience. Just before Christmas he started practicing with climbing stairs as he crawled, and even started taking his first few steps. Christmas this year was much more relaxed and he played with his cousins and visited other relatives with no signs of the problems he had the previous year.
After the Christmas season though we got our biggest gift. Our son started to walk slowly but surely on his own. Recently he has even done his version of running as only a little toddler can do. He enjoys playing games with his mom and dad. He has started to try to make friends with our cat (though the cat wants nothing to do with him). He is growing and progressing every day teaching himself and us as his parents something new every day. It is hard looking at him now remember all the challenges we had in the first year of his life. He shows no signs of the surgery or the fears of further developmental issues we had with him at one time. He still has a big head, but hey it makes him unique!
This article is meant to help parents of newborns and expectant parents realize that there will be challenges with raising their child. There will be joys and fears during the first year of life for your child. One thing to remember though is that in the end it will only make your child and yourself stronger. These days doctors have seen all the challenges a baby will have their first year of life and a large majority of them are easily treated. As parents you will worry, it’s only natural. Just don’t let the worrying cause you to miss the enjoyment your child brings you. Enjoy the first year of your child’s life, it’s something that will challenge you and make you very happy at the same time. We would never give back the time we have spent with our son Zachary for all the money in the world, and look forward to spending much more time with him as he continues to develop and excel.