I’ve been a preemie mom for over 6 years now.
As with any aspect of motherhood, it’s something that lasts your whole life. Things don’t just go back to “normal” once your baby comes home from the hospital. You live a new normal that includes a lot of “extras” that I didn’t experience with my first, full-term child.
Before I gave birth to my twins, I had no idea what being a preemie mom entailed. I honestly had never met a baby that had been born early and it wasn’t something I worried about.
My twins were considered “micro” preemies, since they were born at 25 weeks, 5 days. They weighed 1 lb 7 oz and 2 lbs 2 oz, and spent over three months in the NICU. My twins needed help eating, regulating body temperatures, and even breathing. Their eyes were fused shut and their skin was translucent. Tubes were everywhere, as they were kept in isolettes in a dark, quiet room. There were blood transfusions, surgeries, tears, and prayers.
But my boys were fighters. We were lucky that they got to come home. We could finally be a family. Everything would go back to normal.
Just because they came home, it didn’t mean our twins were perfectly healthy or all their problems were resolved. Prematurity can create a host of “extra” issues and permanent changes to your life.
New People In, Old People Out
Even though we wanted everyone to meet our twins, we had to stay isolated. Their immune systems were still weak. No one was allowed over except close family, and they needed to be completely healthy. We also couldn’t bring the twins out. No holidays, birthday parties, or play dates. I had to wait an extra year to send my oldest son to preschool. Those germs were too risky.
However, we weren’t completely isolated. We had some new people in our lives. A home healthcare nurse and a physical therapist came to our house weekly.
Appointments and More Appointments
With my first son, I thought there were a lot of doctors visits his first year. Well, those were nothing.
In addition to our in-home appointments, we had to see a pediatrician with preemie experience. We saw the eye doctor every six months since both boys had ROP. Retinopathy of Prematurity is a condition that could lead to blindness if not treated and closely monitored. Until the age of three, we had a standing appointment the Developmental Clinic from the NICU every six months to make sure they were hitting their milestones. Once they hit age four, the school district took over. The twins both need Speech, Occupational Therapy, and Physical Therapy. Plus, my smaller twin just had surgery…but that’s a post for another day.
Whether it’s telling people why they are so small, why they can’t be around a snotty-nosed kid, or why I get emotional around their birthdays, there is a lot of extra explaining. I sometimes feel the need to defend them or myself.
Yes, they are small, but they are strong.
Yes, I am a
little lot paranoid about germs, but I can’t take another hospital stay.
No, I don’t mind if you complain about your pregnancy, but please don’t wish for your baby to come early.
While our lives may never be like those of a “typical” family, we are very lucky. Many preemies face life-long complications. While our “extras” are sometimes stressful, they are minor. I will gladly sit through another eye exam or speech evaluation if it means helping my boys and making their lives easier.
They’ve already experienced more in their short lives than I ever have. So, I will take any “extras” that get thrown our way.
Hi Shann! Great post, you hit the nail on the head, this is what my friend who had a micropreemie described life as like after she was born.