I remember way back in September 2017 I was sitting in a group of ladies (a mix of therapists and special needs mums) expressing my fear that Mikaere would never hold up his head. I’d been primed by our doctors not to expect him to head hold (smiling – one of those milestones a neurotypical kid hits at a few weeks was to be where his development stopped. That’s what we were primed for).
I held onto this fear for the longest time, right up until Kai, learning against Sams chest was able to hold his head upright without it falling to the side. And then, with support, he was able to control his head to look to the left and then back to the right, and then, AND THEN he tipped himself forward slightly and held up his own head (!!!!) – it meant his brain was making connections! His brain was learning how to balance his head and coordinate that with direction!!
At first it was only mere seconds that he was able to hold his head up without support. He was wobbly af, but those tiny two seconds, three seconds were everything. I posted way back when about those initial moments. Since then, with much work and support and physio (hours and hours and hours of it) Mikaere has come on in leaps and bounds.
With some convincing, he can hold his head up almost a whole minute and a half. This is game changing. It means when we pick him up, we don’t need to cradle his head like a newborn (which is convenient, because he’s no longer newborn size or weight, and picking him up requires two hands and the muscles to cradle 10kgs of baby).
It means, for a minute, I can hold him with one arm while I grab something. It means he can sit with us, and we don’t need to not worry about his head, It means when we’re doing physio, I have an extra hand to support his core or encourage using his arms. It means moving on from the newborn holds. Mostly it’s just been one of those skills that has come on that has changed the way we interact with him and we’re over the moon.
I wish I could have gone back to last year and told myself, with all the fear, to be calm. That Mikaere would hold up his head. It’s not neurotypical by any stretch, but my days it’s an awful lot more than we thought would happen.
To clarify, because I know without a doubt there will be some NKH parents reading this, who may feel that horrid sinking feeling because their babe doesn’t yet do the same (I am super familiar with that sinking feeling, for sure. It’s awful. That mix of happy and jealous but not jealous and sad with an unhealthy dose of grief… the special needs life is rubbish) – this head holding business – it’s not all the time, it’s not a reliable head hold and Mikaere is still very very wobbly. We’re not even close to the world of the neurotypical head hold.
Still, all clarifications aside, we’re pleased as punch with this little development. We see you little guy, we see you and love you and are so proud!