Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

The Many Perks of Having a Preemie

In the past two years, I have realized that having a child prematurely (or in our case, extremely prematurely) actually has some advantages.

  • We don’t fear “normal” childhood emergencies (e.g. broken arm or stitches) like other parents do.  Let’s face it—after dealing with Intraventricular Hemorrhage, Necrotizing Enterocolitis, Respiratory Distress, Retinopathy of Prematurity, and/or Patent Ductus Arteriosus, a broken arm sounds pretty tame!  Our babies have already shown the world their toughness!

 

  • We can hold intelligent conversations with neonatologists, speech language pathologists, physical/occupational/respiratory therapists, nutritionists, and early childhood educators.  I’ve heard that many parents of preemies eventually change careers.  Most of us become active with our local hospitals, March of Dimes chapters, or social networking groups on the Internet.  As my husband said, “If knowledge is power, we [parents of preemies] are superheroes!”
  • We have an increased empathy for parents who have lost a child or who are facing a health crisis with one of their children.  We rejoice for every baby who has a nine-month gestation and healthy delivery—we know that every “normal” pregnancy is really a miracle!
  • We are not afraid to be advocates for our children!
  • We celebrate every milestone that our children reach, no matter how long it takes!
  • And then there’s a little thing I like to call the “Chicken-Egg Conundrum.”  Our daughter, Adeline, has already had a few health issues in her two years that may or may not be directly related to her prematurity.

For example, she has been wearing glasses since she was 13 months old because one of her eyes is near-sighted and the other is far-sighted.  I sometimes question—if it hadn’t been for her ROP and frequent ophthalmology appointments—how long would she have seen the world in such an odd way?

I also wonder just how much of Addie’s delays in speech and gross-motor skills can actually be attributed to being a micropreemie.  She receives weekly therapy from both an SLP and a PT, thanks in large part to her low APGAR scores and time spent on a ventilator.  Had she been full-term, she would not have qualified for these services, even if she had the same delays.  Since Adeline didn’t start talking until she was 18 months old or walking until her second birthday, I’m especially grateful that she qualifies for special services!

Finally, as we near her school district evaluation at age 2 ½, I’ve come to realize that whether or not she qualifies for full-time preschool, it’s a win-win situation.  If she is accepted into the program, she’ll just be that much closer to being ready for kindergarten at age 5, and if she isn’t, we can celebrate that she caught up to her peers so quickly!

These are just a few of the reasons why I am thankful to be a mom of a preemie.  If you can think of others, I would love for you to share them below in the comments section!

Comments

  1. I love the positive tone of this article. I really never thought of the pros – thank you, Melissa!

  2. i agree with Brittany………………….thanks for the posting!!!!

  3. I also agree. Sometimes it’s really hard to stop and see the positives. One thing that I consider to be a perk is learning and gaining so much knowledge of the growth and development of babies. Mine was 14 weeks early, and 1 month behind in growth. It was amazing to to watch her eyes lids open after being fused. To watch her ears actually kind of grow, and her eye lashes. They grew on one eye before the other. lol It was amazing to me to watch this miracle grow right before my eyes. Great Article. 🙂

    • Kate, isn’t it amazing? I couldn’t believe how perfect Addie was at birth–just so tiny! I had forgotten watching her ears form from those flat little flaps!

  4. I loved this article! If I didn’t look at the amazing perks that I got to experience having my son 11 weeks early I don’t think I would be the mother I am today.

  5. Great Article! I love all 4 of my preemies amd would not change them for anything in the world. It’s nice to look at the perks, everyone always talks about all the bad, now I can throw those in there!

    • People do tend to focus on the negative, don’t they? Our preemies bring such joy and thankfulness, we should celebrate more!

  6. Perks of having a preemie: They come home with instructions!

    • So true!! Especially since Adeline was our first baby, I was definitely confident and ready to bring her home when it was time!

  7. Melissa L says:

    This post all to true. From the Beginning to when they start rolling over to sitting up to crawling to walking to talking to everything in between and after. I have a 34 month old going to be 3 in August and we have been through all the ups and downs and now we are awaiting to see if he will be starting Pre-School this cumming year. He is a 33w 5d preemie.

  8. Spent so much time in the NICU that I have on numerouos coccasions been asked if I am a doctor. LOL

  9. As a 28 year old former preemie, I have been raised along side the story of my birth. The details increased as I got older, but from the time I was little, I was told that I was born very sick, mommy was very sick, they weren’t sure if I was going to make it.

    The truncated stats I know now as an adult: born at 28 wks gestation; 2lb4oz w/ spinal meningitis; brain bleed with no surgical option to remedy (this was 1982, didn’t have half the meds or fetal surgical specialty that they have now); plus the avg problems (open chambers in heart, apnea, nasogastro tube for feeding, so I now have a deviated septum). Mom contracted listeria which forced early labor – the amniotic fluid was green.

    The percentages of survival also were revealed as I grew up — by the time I was 16, I knew that they told my parents to pick a name when mom started labor b/c they would want a name for the headstone. But what I was ALSO told with each rendition of the story, and the reason WHY the story was told at all: I am a fighter. I have been a fighter since the day I was born, I have survived the odds, and I did so because I fought and because people across the country were praying for me.

    That’s the benefit for me – I still have scars on my feet, some skin indentations on my chest from adhesive from the leads, a flat spot on the back of my head that drives my hairdressers nuts, and I know that I am a fighter. As a person of faith, I also know that God has a plan for me.

    So, as your preemie grows, tell them age relevant stories of their birth — that they were very sick, but they fought to survive. That innate warrior spirit has been inside them from day one. It’s who they are.

    I had to rely on this fact during my journey out of severe depression at 22 (unrelated to birth though I’d be curious to see long-term correlation studies of preemies and mental illness) when my parents reminded me daily that I had already fought for my life once — I could do it again. And I did.

    Tell your babies the odds they’ve overcome – they are stronger individuals that they know. Some day, they will need to remember that.

    k

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