Posts Tagged ‘full-term parenting’

Memorial Day weekend, 2006, Bubba Joe came home from the hospital.  The weather was beautiful.  Spring had sprung in Ohio and the color green was everywhere.  BJD and I were anxious and excited.

But we had no clue what we were doing.

While Bubba Joe had relatively no to normal complications for a preemie – he was born at 34 weeks gestation, required no breathing assistance, needed to learn to eat while breathing (meaning he had a NG tube down his nose), and jaundice that required 5 days of lights – we had no idea what being a preemie parent meant.

Or how different it would be to have a full-termer.

You see, while Bubba Joe had little NICU time, he has since had lots of issues – mostly stemming from his weakened immune system.  I’m sure I’ve talked about this before, so I won’t go into all the details.  But at nearly 3 years of age, we (BJD and I) are exhausted with Bubba Joe always getting sick.  We’ve gone to a homeopath here in Germany who has started a regimine of meds to strengthen his immune system.  We just started it so we’ll keep ya’ll up to date.

The point of all this is I never realized how hard, difficult, no, how stressful life was as a preemie parent was.  Especially those first few weeks.  You see, we had to wake him to eat.  I had to pump after nursing (and kept track of how much he took from either side), give him a bottle of expressed milk, daily vitamins, clean the pump parts for next time and get rid of all the gas, all the while hoping we hadn’t overstimulated him, making it that much more difficult to settle him (and hence, allow for a decent rest time for us). 

In short, it sucked.

With SoJo (maybe that’s the name I’ll use for little girl – or SJ for short) it’s all different.  When she started having lots of gas, I freaked.  Yup. I freaked.  Was she also allergic to milk protein like her brother?  Was she also colicky like her brother?  Did she also have reflux that will require meds like her brother?

When she started spitting up through/out her nose, I freaked.  Had we exposed her too quickly to her brother (and one of his many illnesses)?  Would she be able to breathe?  Would she have lung problems like her brother?

And I spoke with friends.  And I spoke with our midwife.  They all reassured me that SoJo is normal.  All these things – gas, spitting up including spitting up through the nose is normal.  I knew other things were normal – like switching her days and nights.  But these other issues – well, they’re all I know as a parent.

I realize now, of course because it’s hindsight, just how life was with Bubba Joe.  How I should have immediately sought out some additional support – some therapy or something – and really pushed for it.  Instead, I waited.  And I allowed myself, er, my brain to do what it does best – to overwork itself, to overthink things through, to overreact. 

Part of the difference now is definately experience.  Experience as a mom, experience as a preemie mom.  And of course, age.  Location has little to play with it, because surprisingly my inlaws provide support but I don’t think that’s what is making the difference.  Perhaps the greatest difference though is having what is called a “wochenbett” (the 8 week postpartum period) in which a midwife comes over as needed and just answers questions, provides advice and support. 

I will always be a preemie parent.  Because in spite of the fact that the issues Bubba Joe has/had can be found in full-termers, the combination of them PLUS his being born early makes it different.  Yes, your child may have been overstimulated easily, but that plus the reflux, plus the dairy allergy, plus having been born 6 weeks early … well, every situation is unique.  (And this doesn’t mean that another’s situation is easier, it simply doesn’t equal mine.)

Being a preemie parent means that I am in constant awe and amazement that things really can be well, less stressful.  As BJD said last night, it isn’t that it is easier with a full-termer, it’s that it is 50% less stressful. 

SoJo is outgrowing her newborn sized clothing (Bubba Joe was almost 3 months by the time he outgrew them).  She’s gaining weight beautifully (almost 9 pounds at 4 weeks, up from 6 pounds at birth – Bubba Joe was over 2 months age (non-adjusted) by the time he hit this weight).  She’s alert, interactive and enjoys the stimulation of being held.  She loves the swing (Bubba Joe hated it).  She loves being swaddled (Bubba Joe hated it).  She loves looking at black and white books (took a long time for Bubba Joe to be ready for that). 

And mostly, she’s just a different baby.

I am so very thankful for so many things.  Mostly, I am thankful to have the opportunity to parent a full-termer.  Would I do it again? Hmm … we’ll see.  Right now, I’m grateful to have what I have.  And I plan on enjoying it … but for this moment, I’m off to nap.  She’s asleep and Bubba Joe is going down for his nap too!


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