What a preemie mom is NOT…

 

Here are three things I wish more people knew. Please know that I absolutely realize that sometimes these stereotypes DO apply to the mothers of premature babies… but it is so essential that people know that oftentimes, they do not. I have met (in person or online) so many amazing, devoted, strong, committed, healthy moms of preemie babies.

 

 

And so, in no particular order, here are three things that preemie moms are NOT (necessarily…)-

 

  1. Young, uneducated, and without proper prenatal care– I can tell you that I found out about my pregnancy early on, was careful with my diet and exercise, attended every prenatal appointment… I’m also a college graduate who had previously carried a baby full-term. Didn’t stop me from going into labor at 23 weeks 4 days…
  2. Addicted to drugs +/or alcohol– Not only is it true that most preemie moms are NOT addicts, but some addicts manage to have full-term babies. There is no reason to assume that a premature baby is the by-product of substance abuse.
  3. Medically “flawed” or biologically destined to have trouble carrying children full-term. Sometimes it’s just a mystery. Sometimes they can’t even begin to guess why it happened. Sometimes it just… happens. Other times, the doctors figure out and are able to prevent future premature deliveries armed with that knowlege.

 

I think we all need to realize that there are so many “assumptions” that we all make about so many situations. I am as guilty of this as the next person. But the area in which I feel the most comfortable attempting to dispel the myths is regarding prematurity. I would love to hear from the rest of you-
What are three things you wish people knew/ three myths you’d like to dispel?

 

originally published 8/14/2008

 

(*I received a comment from a wonderful brand new micropreemie mama this past weekend and, I won’t lie to you, it brought back so many memories– not only of when I had my baby girl, but also of why I started this site in the first place. So, because of that, I thought I’d bring back a few “preemie posts” from the early days this week.)

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6 comments to What a preemie mom is NOT…

  • Deeanna

    1) Preemies will not be small forever or always behind the curve. However, that said, you cannot “not” be a preemie. My daughter was born at 30 weeks and weighed less than 3 pounds. She spent 6 weeks in the NICU. She is now the tallest girl in Kindergarten. Does she “look like a preemie”, no? But that doesn’t mean the struggles in the beginning go away. It’s still something we consider with medical issues.
    2)Maybe not a myth as much as something not to say to a preemie Mom. “I don’t know how you could leave the hospital without your baby. I couldn’t do it.” We really didn’t have a choice. My daughter had an IV in her head for nourishment the first few days I was home. Our home was not the best place for her and she had round the clock monitoring by both nurses and doctors. You do what you need to do. Period.
    3)Not all preemies are the same. Just because she know someone who had a preemie or a baby early does not make you an expert nor can you compare the situations.

    I whole heartedly agree with your statements above. I followed the dr’s orders exactly throughout my pregnancy. It was high risk early on because of family history. I never developed the expected complications. However, it took years for me to get over some of the guilt I felt because I must have done something wrong.

    Thank you for reposting.

    • Great additions, Deeanna. Thanks! My preemie still looks small, even in 2nd grade. She’s not the shortest, but she’s just so very fine-boned and light that she looks like a little pixie in there. BUT, you’re right– that’s definitely not always the case! My sister was a preemie and she’s an inch taller than me. (And I’m no shorty. ;) )

  • Awesome. Glad you wrote this and hopefully it educates some. I’m not a preemie mom, but all of this applies to moms of babies born with birth defects as well. I don’t think I can ever forget the conversation I overheard at library storytime, just a few short weeks after my daughter died..these moms were talking about how moms of nicu babies, whether, preemie or sick, werevto blame. They said that they’d never met anyone who was in their 30s and had went to college or worked for a living have a sick or early baby and so so much more. They were being horrendously mean. Now, I wish is have said something, educated them maybe but back then I was just trying to keep it together and not make a scene:)

    • You are so right, Miranda. A lot of these posts con also apply to other “less than ideal” birth situations and longer NICU stays. I feel like I can speak more confidently about prematurity than other circumstances, but there are many, many parallels.

      Also? That conversation makes me very, very angry. I wish I’d been there with you. I’m far enough down this path now that I think I would have been able to speak up on the spot. Talk about ignorance. :(

  • Susan

    I agree with your preemie Mom list. I would also add that just because they “look normal” doesn’t mean there are still issues going on. My tiny preemie who is running at a cross country meet today still has an overall weakness on the right side, has asthma, and has lower back and hamstring muscle issues. I’ve been told to “stop worrying.” I don’t think I’ll ever stop worrying.

    • That is an important reminder, Susan. “Looking normal” should never be used as an indicator that everything is totally fine. That’s true for the non-preemie population too, but it’s important specifically in this case because they tend to start out NOT looking “normal”, so, when they catch up, it’s easy to assume everything is resolved.

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