When I found out I was pregnant, I never anticipated being the mother to a preemie. I kept joking that he could come a week early, mostly because I was uncomfortable in the summer heat. Instead, he came almost four weeks early. While most people don’t look at my son and think “premature baby”, that’s what he is.
Today (August 30th) is his due date. He’s almost four weeks old now.
While his size and birth weight were close to that of a normal newborn and we were incredibly lucky to avoid a stay in the NICU, I know we don’t have an easy time ahead of us. The first few weeks of his life, we’ve struggled to get him to put on weight, to build those fat stores that a baby normally develops the last weeks in the womb. We are reminded every time he cries about how lucky we are his lungs were developed enough for him to come home with us. We struggled with jaundice, with him losing more weight than he was supposed to, and our struggles aren’t over yet.
While he’s thriving now, I am constantly reminded that his development may be slower because he wasn’t a full term baby. He may be delayed in rolling, talking, walking, all the things that most people take for granted that their baby will do by a certain age.
The hard part isn’t even worrying about his health and how he’ll develop as he grows. The hard part is not really fitting in with either “preemie parents” or “full term parents”. It’s not having a group of people who have been through what we’re going through. We’re this awkward in between. Most preemie parents that I’ve interacted with don’t want to acknowledge that he’s a preemie because he didn’t struggle as much as their babies. The full term parents I know are wonderful, but I know that my son isn’t full term and is going to struggle where some of their babies never had to worry.
In the long run, my son was born prematurely, and that’s okay. Whatever his struggles, he is an amazing blessing. He surprises me every day, and I know he’ll keep that up. No matter what, I love my little boy and I wouldn’t trade him for the world.