November is International Prematurity Awareness Month. Because several of my friends have had premature babies, I’m honoured to have Elizabeth from Frugal Mom Eh sharing her story of being mom to a preemie.
Not many pregnant women give preparing for premature labour a second thought. It just is not a worry and they do not take the time to educate themselves about what this could mean and how they would deal with it. I was definitely one of those women. As I entered my third trimester, I took a deep breath and felt like I was in the clear. Nothing could go wrong at that point, right?
At 28 weeks gestation, my membranes ruptured for no apparent reason and I definitely was not prepared. My hospital bag was not packed… I had planned to do this a few weeks before I hit 40 weeks as I expected to go late if anything. I found myself overcome with a myriad of feelings due being so unprepared.
I was not aware of how badly it would affect me. I was upset that I did not get to experience a full pregnancy. I was terribly afraid my baby daughter would not live through it. I was afraid she might end up disabled in some way. I felt alone, as if nobody around me really understood what I was going through—even when it came to my partner!
As time went on, feelings of love for her and excitement at her achievements were added to the mix of pre-existing emotions. Diaper changes became the highlight of my day. So simple, and something taken for granted and perhaps even avoided by most parents. Can you imagine feeling disappointed that someone else had changed your baby’s diaper? Ask a preemie’s parent; they can tell you just how soul crushing that can be.
Preemie families do not get cute posed newborn photos; rather, shots taken from the outside of an incubator are the norm. Waking up to pump several times during the night is a duty most, if not all the preemie moms I got to know, did. No waking up to a newborn crying for us. Gaining an ounce of weight is worthy of a celebration just as much as coming off CPAP.
We brought our daughter home after 54 days in the NICU. I soon found simple questions had long answers. I constantly dreaded being asked how old she was. When I gave her actual age, I always got questioned about why she was so tiny. I began to give the age that adjusts for what her age should have been had she not been early—but then found people would ask what day she was born!
Preemies are not measured by their chronological age but by the age that adjusts for what their age should have been. This is because their development does not speed up just because they’ve been born. Adjustment continues until 24 months of age, barring any issues.
If you are interested in supporting premature infants, please think of one of the many great organizations that support their care such as blood banks, the Ronald McDonald House and Human Milk Banks. For more information about prematurity awareness, visit the March of Dimes website. For more stories by moms of preemies, check out the blog hop at Journeys of the Zoo.