Things I'd go back and tell my new mummy self...
- He will smile
When you read the books they all say baby will smile around 6-8 weeks. At 6-8 weeks I found myself grinning like a Cheshire Cat from the moment Caleb woke up to the minute he went to bed but to no avail. Everyday I'd think this is the day, the day my little boy looks back at me and his big round eyes turn almond shaped and his little lips turn up at the sides. I became obsessed. At his 6 week check my health visitor said she couldn't tick it off in the little red book, yep that red book again, and she'd have to come back. So back she came at 8 weeks. In that 2 week interval my face literally ached from smiling at him ALL.THE.TIME. I read up so much, would the fact that my baby was prem make a difference to him smiling, I asked every mother I came into contact with how old their baby was when they first smiled. All the babies around me were smiling yet Caleb still looked at me with his little serious face. I questioned my husband on how much he smiled around Caleb incase we hadn't exposed him to enough smiling. I started to think by week 10 of no smiles that he might never smile, perhaps this was karma for my moody teenage years?! Perhaps Tom and I would have to oversmile for the rest of lives just to compensate. I read a wonderfully brilliant blog post from a dad in the same position and he questioned if smiling really was all that it was cracked up to be, did it matter if his baby never smiled?! I was beginning to ask myself the same question.
So when she came back and couldn't tick her box she said we might have to meet with a consultant. Her actual words were 'not to concern you but...' so apparently smiling is kind of a big deal. She told me him being prem didn't have a lot to do with it, something my GP disagreed with. Surely development leaps for a baby born a month early would therefore set him back?
I have to give a big shout out to some rather lovely mummy friends of mine who absolutely saved me from myself in this time and told me it would happen. There was never doubt in their voice and that's what I needed. Not a health professional voicing concerns. A sign of not smiling can be a sign of autism but it can also be a sign of a baby just not ready to bloody smile yet. Babies all develop at different rates and the only thing that kept me going was when my mum asked me "how many people do you know that don't smile?". None. I mean, I know some mardy people but they've all cracked a smile at some point.
The days continued and no smiles not even a glimmer of hope but I continued to grin and bear it. Literally.
Needless to say Caleb did smile and does smile. At just over 12 weeks he gave me the most gorgeous smile whilst playing peekaboo. One last ditch attempt at the end of the day before bath time. I cried. Tears of absolute joy. My baby could smile. If he never did it again at least I knew he could.
It turns out he's particularly choosy with who he smiles at but my heart still crumbles whenever he does, it's like watching him do it for the first time every time. I won't take smiling for granted ever again.
And as for the red book, well, the box is well and truly ticked now.
I suppose in a long winded way I'm saying your baby will smile, I promise.
♡ Jen and Cub