daily confessions of a pediatric physical therapist turned into a first time mom.
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9/18/17, Monday morning, my child is 12 weeks-Hi. My name is Kathryn and I am a first time mom. I know I know, so many things can be attached to that label alone, but I also have many other labels I feel worth sharing. Pediatric Physical Therapist. CrossFit Athlete. Lover of coffee and wine. Optimist. Motherless. Ohio native. Outdoor enthusiast. WI Army National Guard Captain. I tell you this list not to boast, brag or complain, but rather to spark some thought as to what my expectations as a new mom would be.
Like most, I had high hopes that it would be the best title I would ever add to my list of qualifications. Mom. I could now celebrate Mother’s Day in a different way than ever before. I could become a hockey mom (which believe me is hotter than a soccer mom), and I would now be looked at as an adult. I waited 35 long years to arrive at the moment when I finally could hold my child, not someone else’s.
I believed I became an “expert” in babies because I worked with them for so long. At the ripe age of 25 I began working at a Children’s Hospital and quickly learned how to tell if a baby was developing on time or not. I could adjust for prematurity and was happy to report to parents that while their child was behind their peers, look at all the wonderful things they can do and will be able to do by the end of therapy. Every time I assessed and scored a child who was born premature, I was nothing but happy for them. Truly happy that despite their rough entry into this world, they were overall healthy. I saw babies born with Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, babies who had a stroke at birth, babies who failed to thrive, and mostly babies with torticollis. All of them were beautiful and wonderful and perfect in my eyes and their parents. Most conditions were no one’s fault. Birth abnormalities just happened sometimes and it doesn’t make sense and isn’t fair, but these are the babies that tend to be the happiest. To just love being alive. Their smiles and love for just being wherever they were taught me so much as a young therapist. But it was the babies with torticollis that I believed could have been prevented. I believed if your baby had a flat head and a tight neck, could only look one direction and didn’t tolerate tummy time, it was because you did something wrong as a parent. I’d never tell you that or make you believe that, but I secretly thought it. So when I became a parent, you’d never see me with a car seat in my hands, a swing or bouncer in my home, never, never a baby exersaucer or Johny jumper. These things caused delays in babies. I knew it. And I’d definitely never sleep with my baby that could kill him!
Then, on June 21, 2017 my baby boy surprised us all by arriving 10 weeks early. It came as a surprise, but not a shock. It was early for him as a 29 week 5 day old by his gestational age, but I just knew he’d be ok. In those moments leading up to his delivery, in the consult from the NICU team and the birthday “celebration” we had for my husband on the 20th, I never once felt scared or worried that something would go wrong. I honestly don’t know what I felt, maybe unprepared for delivery as we had not attended any birthing classes. Maybe I didn’t believe he was actually coming. Whatever it was, when I heard him cry and held him closeby for a brief moment before he was taken to the NICU, I just was…there. I was as in the moment as I could be. I was doing what I was told and I trusted in the medical team to take care of me and my baby. I had my husband by my side the entire time and I was just doing whatever needed to be done. And I think that is the reality of being a mom, you just do what needs to be done. It may not be what others tell you to do, it may not be what is recommended by the latest and greatest from the American Academy of Pediatrics, but you do what you have to do in each and every moment to survive and thrive as a parent.
In the blogs that follow that is all I will be doing. Sharing what I am doing in the moment to survive and thrive as a new mom. I’ll share my experiences, previous expectations as an “expert” on babies, realities that happen as a new mom and just as a person in general, and how my baby is doing along the way. Unedited. You may like it you may not, but I’m writing it just to write and see where it takes me. Writing, I’ve realized, is my way of thriving in the midst of all this craziness. So I hope it helps some of you out there to realize even your pediatric therapist lets her child sleep on his tummy, by her side.
~Kathryn Kraft, MPT