Prematurity doesn’t define my baby, nor does it define me as a mom. The circumstances of his birth rarely cross my mind.
Today is World Prematurity Day. One out of every eight babies is born too soon in the United States, and Cassatt was one of them.
Maybe I don’t see myself as a preemie mom because there was a low level of medical intervention. I went into labor naturally, and had a natural delivery. There was no emergency c-section. There was no trauma or complications of the birth, and he was not a micropreemie. Cassatt stayed in the Special Care Nursery, and there were really no concerns about whether he would survive or grow. As the mom of a preemie, I am very lucky in that.
But he stayed in the hospital for five weeks. Five very long weeks, when I was trying to spend as much time as possible with him without neglecting my still-recovering-from-surgery two year old. Five weeks of wondering when he would be able to come home, when he would be able to hold his body temperature, when he would eat enough on his own to not require a feeding tube.
Five weeks of waiting.
When he finally did come home, he was on a monitor to confirm he was breathing and his heart was still beating. I was so relieved to be rid of that thing at his one month follow up appointment. Those wires and heavy monitor cramped m babywearing style!
After that month at home, life was fairly normal (or as normal as it can be with a new baby). There were no “preemie” rules, no parenting precautions we took that we hadn’t taken with Picasso. The only reminders we have that he was a preemie are the occasional follow-up visits (currently at 8 month intervals) with the Nursery clinic. And the pictures. I catch my breath every time I see those first pictures of Cassatt.
Cassatt did very well at his Nursery Follow Up appointment this past week. He is growing like a normal child, with his developmental markers within the normal range. Some are high normal, others low normal. As he follows a child with mild developmental delays, we are quite pleased with his progress.
Yes, we have had some difficulties. Yes, the first months were agonizing. But I am not a preemie mom. I am the mother of my child.