Preemie the first year


This is national prematurity awareness month.  You can find lots of good information on prematurity, the NICU & preemies on www.marchofdimes.com

My “preemie” is now 2.  People always say they have a hard time believing she started out so small and with so many complications.  She is now a running, climbing, excited little girl.  Having a premature baby is not anything you can prepare for.  One day I was pregnant and thinking about the months to come and a few days later I had a baby.  We didn’t have preemie clothes, and to be honest I am sure I saw them before in stores, but it never registered, so when the nurses in the NICU told us we could bring her some clothes, I had no idea. 

When you have a preemie in the NICU or at least at our hospital you got daily emails in the morning with weight gain/loss, feedings, amounts of food & bowels.  It was nice to have that first thing in the morning, because our baby was 50 miles away.  When they “admitted her” they gave my husband all the info, but I didn’t see her for several days, because I was not allowed to get out of bed.  I saw pictures that he brought back on the camera (Thank goodness for digital cameras).  When I finally met my child, the nurses had some info sheets and explained things.  This was not our first child, but it was our first preemie.  As any preemie parent knows there is a difference between a non-preemie and a preemie.  When we finally brought her home, our peditrician had a doctor who was a preemie parent and very familiar with preemies, so we got her as our doctor and that was awesome. 

But the one thing that drove me mad was that for the little things (reflux, belly buttons popping out, hernias, sleeping, temperature, etc.)  There was not any resources.  I would go online and look for info on preemies and find nothing, there’s nothing in the books, especially if you don’t have a micro preemie.  So I would have to call the doctors office or go there.  This was frustrating because I didn’t like to take her out all the time and this was my second child, so I would feel like sometimes I was wasting their time for simple little questions.  None of my friends had preemies, there were no parent support groups, and most of the stuff online is for the really small preemies.  So for the whole first year we were on our own.  I wished and hoped for a book for any future preemie moms and dads.  Some preemies develop less quickly than term babies.  So while I had an idea of when she should crawl, walk, etc I had no idea when her eyes would adjust and be strong, so I ended up at a pediatric opthamologist and you want to talk fun, try taking a small baby several times for eye exams, with drops.  I had no idea when to start cereal, I mean yes the doctor would say at a certain age, but she seemed hungry before than, like my first child.  I would worry about how she was moving and breathing and just wonder.  I would search online and try to see if there was anything to help guide me but nothing.  So we chartered it alone.  And now two years in I still need to remind myself that somethings like talking she has to catch up on.  It’s not like a light goes on at one year old and says ok your preemie is officially not a baby anymore and everything should be on target from now on.  No it keeps going.  So I take it day by day with her.  I have no idea what to expect in the future with learning and with her frustrations and seperation issues and again there are not really studies on preemies who are not micr0-preemies.  Parents magazines never cover it and it’s a shame because there are a lot of parents out there who are preemie parents.  So if you have a preemie, just try your instincts, call the doctor when you think you should, cherish each day and remember these precious babies will get there, it just takes time.

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