(This is just a rough draft of something I might say to a parent who’s about to deliver a micro-preemie)
My twin boys were born at Alta Bates at just 25 weeks’ 3 days’ gestation. Prior to that, I spent 8 days in the antepartum unit. During that time, my obstetrician asked the doctors who care for premature babies to talk to me.
My husband and I had very different attitudes about how we wanted to receive information. I wanted information on a “need to know” basis, based on what was happening with my particular babies, not what might happen to a baby similar to mine.
I don’t know what you’re going through, but I know what I went through.
If you’re a parent of a preemie, this is what I want you to know:
I want you to know that they have perfectly shaped fingernails.
I want you to know that it is possible to feel love for something that doesn’t look like a baby.
I want you to know that when they cry, it squeaks and it breaks your heart.
That sometimes they grab your finger like they know who you are.
That sometimes they look like they’re in pain.
That sometimes they look like they’ll never get better.
That sometimes they are more resilient than you can ever imagine is humanly possible.
If you’re a parent of a preemie, this is what you need to know:
You need to know that you might have to hear the same information 4 or 5 times before it sinks in.
You need to know that you might have to make work sacrifices that you didn’t think were possible.
You need to know what kind of things will help you during stressful situations.
You need to know that your mental well being can affect your physical well being and even the well being of your baby.
You need to know that sometimes more information makes you feel even worse.
You need to know that sometimes ignoring information can leave you unprepared.
You need to know that, whatever happens, this experience will change your life forever. Now that I am on the other side, I feel that I have a wisdom, a patience, a reverence for life, and intense feeling of happiness and gratitude that I never imagined were possible.
You need to know that not everyone feels this way.