Sunday, August 1, 2010

On Having a Preemie

Preemie dolls were a fad when I was a kid. The only difference they had from your average baby doll is that they were smaller. The advertisements for the preemie dolls seemed to be quiet and more loving. I never actually owned one of these dolls, but I admired them from the pictures, "Oh, look at how small and cute!" And that was all they were: small and cute. Their hair didn't turn hot pink when wet, and they didn't drink water from a bottle and pee it out either (other doll fads of the time). After having a premature baby, I can say the dolls were pretty spot on: R was small at 4 lbs 13 oz, she requires a lot of quiet and love, she couldn't drink from a bottle at first (although she had the peeing thing down), and her hair does not turn hot pink when it's wet. This may just be me, but I feel that the size of a baby is inversely proportional to the amount of love you can't help but pour into said baby. Preemie parents have no choice but to be ever so deeply captivated by their child.

Precious Looks

I wasn't expecting to have a preemie when this adorable bundle of needs plopped into my lap (or, more accurately, exploded from my womb). There was a distinct learning curve on how to care for R, but thankfully the knowing NICU staff taught Senpai and I about our tiny baby. Something that was also a huge help in the beginning was The Premature Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Premature Baby from Birth to Age One (Sears, William, Sears Parenting Library.). I am thankful to my brother and sister-in-law for sending it to us.

Bye-bye, NICU!
The Journey from the NICU

When we first brought her home, R had nasal congestion issues (it doesn't help that we have an old house chock-full of pet dander), and most nights she wound up sleeping on my chest as I slept reclined against pillows. As her sinuses developed, we eventually were able to move her to an inclined sleep wedge, and now she sleeps just fine in her crib with no added props. The wedge helped with the reflux she had in the beginning as well.

Kissy Face

We had more problems with breastfeeding than I had hoped to encounter. Because she went straight to NICU after birth instead of staying with me, we didn't have the same jump-start to breastfeeding that most moms get. She also was born before her sucking reflexes had developed, so she was fed through a feeding tube for most of her 20-or-so days in NICU. Just getting her to drink from a bottle was a challenge in the beginning. A lactation consultant worked with me to try to get R on the breast, and I thought we were doing pretty well, but it wasn't until she came home that she started losing weight, and I realized too late after my milk supply had dwindled that she was not strong enough to breastfeed. Out came the formula and the breast pump, and now my supply is back up (we don't need the formula anymore, yay!), but she continues to be fed by bottle. After she did get her strength back, colic reared its ugly-- oh so ugly-- head, and I couldn't manage to calm her down enough to try to get her on the breast. So we bottlefeed. It's a lot of work to find time to pump as well as clean all of the pumping equipment and bottles, warm the bottles, and feed the baby (whew!), but I am so glad to still have the opportunity to give her breastmilk in this way.

Daddy feeding Rosemary

Something I'm still getting used to is birth age versus gestational age. Even though it's been 4 months since R was born, it's only been 2 1/2 months since her original due date. So while she may act like a 4 month old in some aspects (holding her head up, lifting her chest during tummy time, babbling), in other ways she is still a 2 1/2 month old (eating every 3 or less hours, still on the small side). It's confusing to balance the two and involves a lot more research, especially concerning milestones: "What happens at this age? Wait, most of this hasn't happened yet. Let's go back a month or two..." ^_^'

With everything said, I am 100% in love with my preemie. The trials and tribulations all add up to the experience of parenthood, and I wouldn't want it any other way.

Baths would be more fun if her hair turned hot pink, though.
Little Venus


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