Motor skills do not come easy for many preemies. Kids with congenital heart disease also have issues with muscle tone. So, poor Oliver, doubly cursed (birth weight 783 g with pulmonary regurgitation, a now repaired ASD, and right ventricular hypertrophy) is just not physically inclined. At all. In addition, he probably lost the genetic lottery, because I was a mathlete and picked last for every single team in school.
I don’t force sports. I insist on PT and OT, but coming in last all the time gets even effervescent Oliver down. Except swimming. It’s a survival thing. Kids drown every year. Knowing how to swim is non-negotiable.
Since swimming lessons where I live are crap (thank you Mill Valley rec center for offering the lowest quality lessons humanly possible. How low you ask? Well, I had to jump in fully clothed during one lesson and pull Oliver off of the bottom of the pool). So, I have been lugging Oliver and Victor week after week into the city to a great place with high quality instruction and a warm pool. The downside, in addition to the cost, the drive, and fighting other type A mothers for parking spots, I have to tune out the complaining, because going to swim lessons is apparently one step above a fate worth than death.
Progress has been slow. Painfully. We have seen many kids who started out far behind move on to more advanced classes while we have turtled along.
But something we forget to do with our preemies (or I do anyway when I ignore my own advice, and compare my kids to others) is to reflect on how far they have come.
Tonight I had to drag the boys out of the pool. We are enjoying a little staycation a local hotel while some work is completed on the house. In and out of the deep end they jumped. Giggles. “Mom, look at me.” Fits of laughter, “Mom, over here.”
They swam. And swam. And swam. I tried my best not to cry. I may not have been entirely successful.
Because that just about sums it up for preemies. A lot of it is harder. A lot. What almost every term kid takes for granted is a monumental task.
Learning to breathe. Learning to eat. Learning to sit. Learning to walk. Learning to hold a crayon. It’s all bloody hard work.
But you just have to put on your blinders and ignore all the term kids and keep at it. Because eventually the weak muscles click. Eventually there will be a breakthrough.
And then when it happens, the joy is monumental.