I think now it's official: physical therapy is over. They set numerous 6 month goals for you about a month ago: goals to pull yourself to stand, to stand alone, to take a step or two... as of now, you've already met them all, including the final one: walking.
Last week after I fastened a little baby mirror to your (outsized) playpen, you were so intrigued by your own reflection that, without thinking, you turned around from where you stood and walked three or four steps right on over to the mirror. I think we were both a bit shocked. You, because you didn't even know you could walk without holding anything, and me, because babies are expected to walk somewhere between 11 months and 15 months developmentally. Last week, when you took those first conspicuous steps, you were only 10 and a half months. Since then, it's been game on.
You're mother bought little play "islands" in your playpen for you to walk to and from and every chance you get--- using every excuse you can think of--- you are walking back and forth between those little islands and the couch. It doesn't always end "pretty." Sometimes you end up on your face. Sometimes you trip over an obstacle and your feet fly up in the air. Regardless, nothing seems to discourage you, and in a few seconds, you're back up and back at it.
At first, I wondered why or how you'd learned to walk so quickly, but the more that I think about it, the more it seems obvious: you are a very active, very determined baby. Just like the days after you were born, you're still that same wiggly kid. In the NICU, you thrashed and flailed and everyone called you a "wiggle worm." After you came home, even though you couldn't flip over, you'd "pseudo-crawl" the second we set you down. Once you learned to flip, you'd flip from front to back, front to back, over and over and over with no apparent objective. Upon mastering your crawling and climbing skills, you'd unfailingly look for the biggest obstacle as soon as someone put you down and set off to conquer it. The couch, of course, is one of your favorites. Just a few days ago, I watched you struggling to scale it for about 10 minutes. You grunted and growled and bellowed in frustration until, at last, you succeeded. But did you savor your victory? Nope. Instead, you immediately went about climbing the back of the couch. On to the next challenge.
It seems almost as if you have zero regard for the pain or exertion required to achieve some new physical feat. Even now, as you free stand from a sitting position then walk toward me, your face looks like that of a competitive weight-lifter: red, straining, grunting. When you finally do make it to my arms or lap, you look me in the eye with a victorious grin, then start it all over again. Its almost as if you are actively pursuing things that are difficult. Set you down at the base of some stairs? Thems look like climbin' stairs. When I lay down on the ground next to you? I'm suddenly a much more appealing obstacle than a daddy.
The thing that really strikes me, though, is that all through your progress, I've never stopped noticing those little preemie qualities that should be holding you back. Your tight muscles. Your stubby little body. The pain of reflux whenever you weren't sitting upright. Still, you've made up for those handicaps with a super dose of grit and resolve. It's inspiring, in a way. After all, it's one thing to be born with some talent or attribute. It's quite another to achieve it through determination, resourcefulness and effort. The former lets you thrive at one particular thing. The latter lets you thrive at all things.
So far, I've mostly failed at taking walking pictures,
usually because you do a healthy amount of
flailing which throws off my camera focus.
And here you are celebrating with Mommy.