There are so, so many things you should not take for granted when you have a child. We all do, though. It's human nature not to realize your blessings until you don't have them. How many of us really think about how good we feel until, suddenly, we don't?
When you have an extremely early preemie, there are so many major, major health concerns. Those occupy a lot of your thoughts. In between them, however, here are three little things that occupy the minds of micropreemie parents that parents of full-termers likely take for granted:
- Hearing your baby cry. I was so, so blessed... I actually heard my baby cry at birth. This is incredibly rare for a baby born at 24 weeks. But, even with that, she was so tiny and just not strong enough to keep breathing on her own and had to be intubated. For as long as she was on the ventilator (and, for micropreemies, that is often quite a long time), she could not cry. She had no voice at all. Babies who end up needing tracheotomies go an even longer stretch without being able to cry to communicate. It is HARD for the parents. We would gladly hold and soothe a wailing baby. We just don't get the chance.
- Seeing your baby's eyes. Most newborns spend a whole lot of time with their eyes closed- sleeping. Those few newborns who do not probably have parents who likely wish they saw a little bit MORE of their baby's eyelids! But what if you never saw your baby's eyes? What if you had no idea what color, shape, and size they might be? Such is the case for many micropreemie parents. Our babies are usually born with their eyes still fused together. We have to wait days, or weeks, before those eyes open up. It's hard to wait that long to gaze into your child's eyes...
- Changing your baby's diaper. This is one of those tasks that is often playfully pushed back and forth between parents, "Uh, uh... he's stinky! He's your baby when he's stinky!" Tee hee hee. ;) It's different for micropreemie parents. In those early weeks, we never get to hold our babies. We aren't allowed to touch them much. We watch them from outside their glass boxes. When a nurse asks us, "Would you like to change his diaper?", we jump up excitedly. We may even argue with each other about whose turn it is... but we want to do it. We don't try to pass the job off. That little bit of contact and care is sometimes all we get for a day or two. We jump at the chance.
So the next time your screaming newborn turns to you with sad or mad eyes and you realize she has a nasty blow-out diaper to change... well, try to be grateful, at least for a moment. And try not to take any of it for granted.
What three things would you like to share with us this week?