Dreading My Daughter’s Next Birthday

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Birthdays should be a time of celebration and happiness. It should be a day to reflect on milestones your child has achieved over the past year and a look forward as to what exciting things the next year will bring. 

But this year, as we approach Avery’s sixth birthday, I’m filled with sadness, guilt, and regret. I’ve been dreading this particular birthday since her very first birthday. 

Before you think I’m totally crazy, every birthday Avery has celebrated has been a miracle and something we’ve never taken for granted. Because Avery was born three and a half months early, her chances of survival at birth were low and chances of a “normal” childhood were even lower. 

So why on earth am I dreading this birthday so much? Why am I not looking forward to another year of celebrating my miracle baby? (Yes, she will always be my baby!) 

What exactly is so awful about turning six years old? 

Avery is developmentally delayed in all areas — speech, eating, fine motor, and gross motor skills. We (she) has been working so hard all of her life to catch up, and the progress she’s made is HUGE. But with each year that passes, I’ve always had that feeling that we’re running out of time. 

You’re probably thinking, “She’s turning six not 16; how on earth are you running out of time?” 

Because of an interesting statistic that most people probably aren’t aware of: 90 percent of a child’s brain develops by age five. 

Does that mean we won’t continue to see progress once she turns six? Absolutely not. It does mean the progress may be slower and reaching those milestones will be even harder. There may be areas in which she never actually catches up to her neurotypical peers. And that’s what breaks my heart. 

There’s not a single day of Avery’s life that’s been easy. Since day one, she’s had to work twice as hard to do the things that come naturally to most other kids. In the early days, it was breathing, then learning to sit up, crawl and eventually walk. These days, it’s learning to write, use scissors, and working on her hand-eye coordination. 

Track your child's developmental milestones, like writing.Other than having a pity party for myself, why am I sharing this with you? 

It’s to emphasize the importance of early intervention when it comes to your child’s developmental milestones. It’s to tell you that denial and turning a blind eye to potential delays or diagnoses for your child can be detrimental. 

I’m not trying to be an alarmist, and there are many parenting instances in which the “wait and see” approach is completely appropriate. Fever, runny noses, and coughs can be perfect examples of this, depending on your child’s overall health. A child not reaching their developmental milestones on time is not. 

While every child reaches those milestones at a different age, there are ranges for milestones, and if your child falls outside of those ranges, it’s important to be aware that some sort of intervention may be required. 

Tracking those milestones can be overwhelming so here’s a handy guide to bookmark.

As a parent, I’ve known from day one that we would live in the land of occupational, feeding, and speech therapy for a very long time. I can understand if you don’t know that right off the bat, it can be a hard pill to swallow and a world you may not want to enter. But, as parents we all want to do what’s best for our children and being aware of these important facts will help you do just that.

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Kelly and her husband, Shawn, are both Fort Worth natives and proud parents to their eight-year-old daughter, Avery, the inspiration behind many of Kelly’s articles. In her time as a mom, Kelly has become an unofficial expert on the NICU, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and global developmental delays. She’s an open book about their experiences and is always happy to talk to other moms looking for guidance or just another mom who gets it. After being in corporate marketing for almost 20 years, craving more flexibility and time with Avery, she founded 314 Marketing Solutions (www.314marketingsolutions.com) in 2019, a full-service boutique marketing agency. She considers herself an expert in multi-tasking and counts her car as the main headquarters for her business, regularly switching being a special needs mom driving to and from multiple therapy appointments, activities, and business owner.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Kelly, well written. Avery is fortunate to have you and Shawn for parents, devoted parents. Your message is strong, but so are the three of you. God bless you for stepping up to the challenges you have faced.

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