The Two Year Assessment

IMG_1194When a baby is born premature they are put into category. Our twins fell into the category of “extreme prematurity” because they were born at 27 weeks, too early.

Once you’ve actually survived however many months of ups and downs, back and forwards, not breathing to breathing to finally going home there are all the other things you need to be doing.

When we got home there were the weekly check ups at the paediatrician, hydrotherapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy. Just to name a few. I’m still hoping for the “cure-the-lack-of-sleep-therapy” but that doesn’t seem to really exist. Anyway, after all of that there is the yearly assessment that is conducted by your discharging hospital.

The first year assessment I found terrifying because I felt like it was an observation of my parenting skills. When in fact it was to see how my little person was coping with real life and how Mummy was coping with life with a baby with different needs to a term baby.

The two year assessment I felt was a bigger deal than the first. The second year is all about early intervention (even though we started pretty much at birth). This time though I was delighted to see how my little miracle is tracking against her counterparts.

For just over two hours my beautiful daughter was put through her paces early last week. She had to stack blocks, follow along a book, draw lines and circles like she was shown, hold a pencil, solve problems, observe, learn, and show her skills. Physical, emotional, neurological. All tasks that most term babies do without thinking about it.

For a child who suffers separation anxiety and who death-stared the person asking her questions for the initial part of the assessment I was overwhelmed by her determination and resilience. She just kept making me smile. When I thought “there’s no way she can do that”, she surprised me yet again.

She was given a particular task and this one will stick in my mind for a while. She was given a cup and about 10 small cube blocks. Her instructions were “Lucia, place all the blocks in the cup”. She started placing the blocks in the cup. About half way through the task she looked at the pile on the table and what was in the cup and started taking the blocks out of the cup. To be honest my heart was racing. I was thinking that she can do this, she has to do this.

She surprised me. She took all but two blocks out of the cup and then created a tower of blocks inside the cup so they all fit inside.

All I could do was laugh.

Her expression said it all ….. “Don’t ever doubt me”

Why I was ever concerned about this child, who from day one – defied all the odds to survive I have no idea.

Every moment of every day from the moment I was told I was pregnant with high-risk twins and I should terminate …… I have NEVER doubted my love nor my strength to help my daughter get through whatever obstacle is in front of her. There have been in the past many days I was frightened for her, for what was happening to her to enable her to keep fighting to survive and there will be many days in the future (hopefully not so many as in the past). But, when I look at my little girl and hold her hand, the hands that are covered in scars where countless lines were put into her tiny veins to help her survive, I feel her strength. She is a child with courage and determination and I’m sure she will always succeed in life in whatever she chooses.

Today I received the four page report on Lucia’s two year assessment. She is tracking ahead of most of her counterparts for three out of five of the sections of her assessment. She needs a little added support for her expressive speech which since the assessment she is saying at least five new words a day. Her favourite word this week is “Okay”. She says it in the quietest voice and every time she does I smile.

Am I surprised she did so well?

Not at all.

I’m delighted. Clearly she is gifted like her Mother!!

For all those parents out there who are currently battling the rollercoaster that is prematurity, have faith.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel and when our tiny little people finally turn the corner to health they just turn the corner and there is no stopping them. Those days that turn into weeks, and the weeks that turn into months eventually get you home.

Once you’re home that tiny little person is yours forever – you don’t have to share them with the hospital anymore.

One day, that time in hospital is becomes a memory, a part of your inner strength you never realised you had and then you can smile because you survived it and so did they and because of your help, they are AWESOME.

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