Previously posted on Cheering on Charlie
The Things People Say
By Rebecca Wood
In honor of Prematurity Awareness Month, I am attempting to write a post a day (with the exception of power outages). With select posts, I hope to address a different aspect of our prematurity journey that non preemie parents may not realize.
Previously, I had written a post about some of the irritating things other people say to me. Now that we are further in our journey, I have encountered more comments that I could do without. Here are the additions to the list:
1) Any reference to God’s involvement. I realize people who say things such as “God has a plan” or “It was God’s will” mean well. There are so many reasons why I do not like this that it could be a post in itself. Life is not fair. It has nothing to do with God. If you must include God, say something like “I’m praying for you.”
2) Enjoy it, they grow up so fast. The infant need stage is dragging and I am exhausted. I look forward to no longer buying formula, washing bottles, changing diapers, or attending to late night feeds.
3) Aren’t you glad that having a preemie is behind you? Yes, I’m glad NICU life is behind us. However, including therapy, Charlie has about three appointments a week. Often, more than that. Her premature birth is far from being behind us, if ever.
4) Any unsolicited advice. On occasion, I will ask other parents for ideas or strategies. I rely on and do not mind this input. Like any parent, I dislike being told the “best” way to do something. Experience has shown that those who think they have all the answers are actually clueless.
5) Comparing my preemie to a full term child. Often, I hear, “So and so did that at that age.” Or “That’s just like so and so when she blah, blah, blah.” If so and so was not born fourteen weeks early, I want to scream for the speaker to be quiet. But mostly, I politely nod while looking for an exit from the conversation.
6) But she’s so cute. I am not sure where people get the idea that only homely babies have special needs.
7) She will be fine, right? This statement forces me to be optimistic and comfort the other person. We are only beginning to discover the long-term implications of Charlie’s premature birth. We will be fine… just not in the way this statement is insinuating.
8) You preemie moms worry too much. Guess what? I probably worry less than full term moms. There was a time in which a normal day included nudging my baby’s back to remind her to breathe. I have learned not to sweat the small stuff. But, there continues to be days in which the pediatrician instructs us, “Keep her breathing and keep her hydrated.” On those days, I worry. No, it is not because I’m a preemie mom. It is because my baby has significant health concerns.
9) What did you do to cause her early delivery? If I haven’t openly explained why my baby was premature, then it is none of your business. I get it. We live in a world where bad stuff just happens sometimes. I understand that seeking a reason why is comforting to whomever asked the question. However, most of us don’t know why we had our babies early. Plus we still carry a lot of guilt that we didn’t make it to full term. This question ends up being hurtful. Many times, there are no specific causes. Women have babies early or develop preeclampsia (or other pregnancy complications) with no known risk factors.
10) Anything concerning breast-feeding, cloth diapers, or vaccines. I think most parents, preemie or not, agree with me on this one.
Preemie parents, what would you add?