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November 15, 2012

(Some) Things You Need to Know about Preemies

I think by now everyone knows I have a preemie. I tell everyone. I don't do it for pity or for you to feel sorry for me. It's actually the complete opposite. I do it so you're aware. I believe knowledge is power and if you know about premature births, you will recognize signs or know the dangers.

Saturday, November 17 is World Premature Awareness Day. It's the first year I'll be celebrating this occasion, and I use the word celebrate intentionally as I have a beautiful baby, who was once (and will always be) a preemie.

Here's our LO about 1 month old, 34 weeks
Here are some things you need to know about preemies and those who parent them:

  • My preemie - like many others - is a strong cookie. She was a fighter from day 1, and she's feisty like her mama and super happy like her daddy. 
  • She is not weak, but she once was, and her immune levels remain less than other babies. So when we ask you to wash your hands, we're not doing it to be rude, we're being responsible parents. (Side note: I think people should wash their hands before touching any baby, not just preemies)
  • I'm not worried about her "catching up". I am grateful every day looking at her big, brown eyes that she's here with us. The fact that she's small or thin doesn't bother me. After all, I'm only 5'0, so I was always the teeniest growing up and I was a full-term babe.
  • We don't only celebrate the typical milestones of full-term babies (rolling over, grabbing, babbling), but we've also celebrated the preemie milestones. We were so excited when our LO went from feeding tube to bottle feed to breastfeeding. We were OVERJOYED the day we got to the hospital to find out the oxygen had been removed from her little face. We still count up how many cc's of milk she gets every day, and often refer to milk that way - not in ounces.
  • Preemies have two birthdays, and consequently, two ages. One is their actual, gestational birth age, and the other is their corrected age (when they should have been born). So you will often hear preemie parents explaining that their child is 9 months old, but 7 months corrected. That means the baby was born 2 months early. Developmentally, the baby is also like a 7 month old, not a 9 month old. Preemies usually drop the corrected age at 2 years.
  • If you are expecting, learn about the potential dangers and risks. Don't go through your pregnancy in fear, but educate yourself. Smoking, age, bad health can all contribute to premature births.
  • I do not smoke, am healthy and not in an at-risk age group. Anyone can have a preemie. Know your body and when something doesn't seem right, call your doctor immediately or go to the Hospital.
  • Trust others. Trust your doctors, your nurses, your NICU family. You don't really have a choice, and the experience will be a lot smoother if you can.
  • Believe. Believe in your baby, in your doctors, in yourselves. If you have friends who've had a preemie, support them, offer to make them dinner, watch other children, be a shoulder, a grocery shopper, a confidant. 
  • I am so grateful for our family and friends that offered support. They understood when we didn't want visitors at the hospital or for the first while at home and respected us.  
And finally, no one wants, or chooses, to have a preemie. This is the hand we are dealt, and it's how we choose to embrace our situation that makes us. It's Grace Under Pressure. We are only given what we can handle in life.

Our most favourite piece of art at Sunnybrook. Now our favourite quote.

Please help spread the word about World Prematurity Day.


I'm participating in a Preemie Blog Hop! For more stories on preemies, please see the links of my fellow bloggers below: 

1) Prematurity Awareness - Keira's Story  
3) Prematurity Awareness: Born at 30 Weeks, The Zoo's NICU story
4) Prematurity Awareness: Parenting with Heart
5) Prematurity Awareness: Being a Parent of a Preemie
6) Prematurity Awareness: What It's Like To Have Preemies
7) Prematurity Awareness Month - What It's Really Like To Have a Preemie


  1. terrific post....thanks for linking up with us!

  2. Ah, Julia! I love the post! Your tone is perfect. You are right, I didn't choose to have preemie twins, it happened, and I am blessed, as you are. PS Totally agree with the hand washing mention!


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