Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Nov. 17 - Bloggers Unite - Blog for Preemies

What is a preemie?

Technically, a preemie is any baby born before 37 weeks gestation. If you've followed me for a while now, then you know that we have Elisa, a beautiful preemie born at 29 weeks and 1 day old last year. And at this time last year, we were just two weeks into our NICU journey. In fact, when I look back in my photo album, I see pictures such as these, taken one year ago today:

We've had a very easy journey for that of a preemie, especially for that of a preemie born as early as we were. We were never on oxygen. We never developed ROP. We've followed a pretty strong developmental curve that's rather close to our actual age instead of adjusted. Unfortunately, we probably don't lend well to really bringing awareness to preemies and the challenges they face because we were very, uniquely, healthy. If anyone were to have a preemie experience, I would want them to have mine. That being said, I would not wish this journey on anyone.

One thought that has been on my mind a lot recently, probably because we just reached that big milestone of our first birthday, is the difference a year makes. Last year, we were celebrating reaching 3 pounds. 3 pounds! Elisa was still on gavage feedings and they weren't even close to beginning oral feedings. She was still in an incubator. She was still having brady's when she tried to poop. (Although I don't think that has changed in the last year.) Even her voice didn't resemble what we had thought a newborn baby would sound like. We likened it to a cat mewling. I dredged up this old video from when we gave her one of her first baths and she was just lounging around and soaking.

Elisa continues to amaze us and bless our lives with her amazing tenacity and good spirits. Just today, I was able to watch her as she held her own conversation with, well, who knows what.

So I may not have much to offer in terms of advice. I don't have a scary story to tell. But one thing I do remember well about my journey with a preemie was the lack of "success" stories. Those preemies who survived the NICU and not only survived but thrived. So what I have to offer is that. Hope. A success story.

So if you are a new preemie mom, and you've stumbled onto my blog, I have a few things I want to say. The first is, congratulations! You have entered a whole new world. It's a scary world but it's also a challenging and sometimes exciting world. You learn things about your child that you never thought you'd learn. Like how amazing they are. How strong they are. How much of a survivor they are. And just how much they can and do over come. The second is that old cliche of "this too, shall pass." And it does. Don't give up hope during those long days spent with your child in the NICU. It may seem at times like you will never come home. Those times when your child is stable and just needs to eat and grow and maintain their temperature but despite your best efforts just doesn't make any progress. It feels like forever. But they do come home. And not only do they come home, but they can, and do, thrive. Being a preemie does not define your child's life. But it is a symbol of their unbelieveable strength and perseverance.

I've met many preemies through my own preemie experience and I love them all. They all have their own challenges and they all have overcome some significant events. They all are fighters. So I want to remember all of these wonderful babies. Who, if I hadn't become a preemie mom, I never would have met. Kudos to you, my fellow preemie moms. You all are rockstars.

And now, just this amusing photo of my rockstar, loving her bottle so much that she just had to have two. At the same time.


Becky said...

YAY! I'm so glad that Elisa has come out of this journey an amazing, strong kid. I have enjoyed reading your blog over the past year and change and I can't wait to watch her grow and blossom.

MoDLin said...

Thank you for bringing hope into the preemie conversation. It's so important not to forget that.
On behalf of the March of Dimes, we really appreciate your taking the time today to help spread the word about the seriousness of premature birth.
And belated happy birthday Elisa!

Kim said...

I agree, if you have to have a preemie, the journey needs to be an easy one.

When my daughter, 34 weeker, was born, she sounded much like a cat too. I'm so glad Elisa is thriving and is healthy!