Dear parent of a premature baby,
This wasn't the birthing story you have planned for. If you were like me, you might not have had your baby shower, taken your birthing class or gotten the room ready. It's okay. My daughter, Skylar came at 26 weeks and 6 days, more than 3 months before her due date. I had a placental abruption, and going into the C-Section, the survival rates for both of us weren't good. But Skylar came out weighing 1 pound, 15 ounces and 13.5 inches. She was transferred to Children's National an hour after her birth.
Since I was so far away, it was very reassuring that the doctors called me in the hospital to give me updates. As I started my visits in person, the level of care by the doctors and nurses were incredible. Unlike many of the parents I met in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) lobby whose children were at Children's for a short time, I was at Children's for months. I saw the continued care on a long-term basis.
One of the shocking things I had to learn through experience is why I didn't see many of the parents at the NICU with their children. The first few days are terrifying. You don't know if you can plan for the future. Then the weeks start to go by, and then a month. There is only so much you can do. Helping with feedings, baths, and doing kangaroo care are so important, but trust me, take the time to get ready at home too. You won't get much done at home once the baby comes home! Even less if you are a single parent like me!
The most important thing I can say is to stay positive. You have the choice to make this a hopeful time. It's an unexpected event that has already changed your life. You have a right to feel robbed of what others have gotten to enjoy, but you also will be thankful for things your child will do that "normal" parents will never understand. You will be grateful for the first time you hold your naked baby without any leads, the first time he or she smiles at you, the first time he takes a bottle, and the first time they get into the carrier you bought. Yes, it's a big deal to everyone, but it means even more to us.
Skylar's mommy, Tharen