In honour of November being Prematurity Awareness Month, I thought I’d touch on some of the things I have learned from having my premmie, Indie Grace, 9 weeks early!
After a very spontaneous and quick labour at just 31 weeks, Kit and I were suddenly thrust into a world of hospitals, breast pumps, crazy equipment, terminology and timelines. The world of a premmie parent doing time in special care.
Despite having two previous kids under my belt, I was inexperienced and unsure about the concept of having a premmie baby. And being me, I wanted to read, Google and absorb everything I could on the topic. I quickly discovered that this was not the best path. So much of the reference material painted a depressing picture of how I MUST be feeling. I leafed through pages telling me not to feel like a failure…um I didn’t! Or read lists of all the things people will say that could offend me…um like I cared less! The reality is that every premmie experience is different, which leads me to my first point of the five things that having a premature baby has taught me…
Not every experience is the same.
Kit and I firmly stand by the fact that our experience was an entirely positive one, and believe me, I do realise that not every premmie birth goes like this. I saw this first hand. Although Indie was born 9 weeks early, she was never unwell, just tiny. Her 34 days in special care was simply a methodically carried out process of helping her to gain weight and take a bottle or breast. As our amazing Paediatrician said, “This will be like watching paint dry for you.” And yes, at times this process seemed like it would never end, and we did get tired, run down and completely over it. But it was where she needed to be, so we cuddled her, took loads of photos, laughed with the nurses, learned the lingo and just followed doctors’ orders until we could take her home.
The Tiny Factor!
Even now that she’s been home for several months and is THREE TIMES her birth size, people still comment on our ‘newborn sized’ doll! Of course, I can understand why they would think that because, well, she is small. But one thing I learned from watching her from day one is that her size does not match her tenacity, strength or her fierce ability to thrive. Prem babies are simply incredible at how quickly they adapt and move through the markers towards being a healthy size and feeding well. They are way more robust then you’d think too, just watch a special care nurse nimbly position them in their cot if you don’t believe me!
Speaking of Special Care Nurses.
We spent almost five weeks in close quarters with these legendary ladies, and they are nothing short of amazing! They are tough when THEY need to be but relaxed when YOU need them to be. They truly know their shiz and better still, they would explain things so we understood too. Leaving my little girl in their care every night was so much easier when we’d arrive the next morning to read a handwritten note on her progress. Or a sneaky footprint left in our memory book. Or when they texted me a photo of my little girl finishing her bottle. Side note: this was monumental as it meant her nasal tube could be removed and they knew I’d want to know. We formed a great bond with so many of them, we actually missed them when we finally left! Simply put…SCN nurses are the bomb!
Screw the Milestones.
One thing I’m just not getting used to is the whole corrected age thing. Like I don’t have enough to remember in my day…I have to do maths too!! You see when you have a premmie, the idea is that you are supposed to allow for their corrected age. This is her Earth side age i.e. the day she was born minus the difference from her due date. This difference gives her some grace in reaching certain milestones, in Indie’s case it is 9 weeks or around 2 months. You know the only problem with that is, I don’t care. I’m not hung up on the milestones. As long as she is happy, healthy and so wonderfully loved…the milestones can go jump. It helps that Indie is my third child, I have the experience of seeing my older children grow and flourish beyond what month they first sat up or rolled over. So, if her doctor and the mat nurse are telling me she has no concerns…then you won’t be hearing me spurting her “corrected age” to allow or apologise for anything she is or isn’t doing.
The Premmie Pay Off. Something else those awesome nurses do is to set your baby up in a
routine. I mean like they haven’t done enough already! I first heard of the premmie pay off phenomenon when another mother who had already experienced the gift of the SCN with her first baby eluded to it and I was eager to know more. It didn’t take long to find out. The nurses will proudly tell you that you’ll have the best behaved bub in town, thanks to them. With anywhere up to 12 babies to look after, the nurses operate on set feed times, nappy changes and rely on self-settling sleepers who will sleep through absolutely anything! I’m serious…anything! Hospitals are loud and bright places, the SCN babies quickly adapt to people, movement, doors opening and closing, bright lighting and even a doorbell every time someone wants to come in. When we left with Indie she was 3-4 hourly feeder who was settled and could sleep through a tornado. Which was great seeing as my house regularly encounters those, in the form of my two older kids!
We can't wait to see our precious Indie grow and change. There's so much to look forward to and much joy to be had. But we will never forget her early start in this world and those 4 weeks and 6 days where we learned so much about the kind of parents we would be and just how amazing our darling girl could be.
Thanks for reading x