Lucky

Through out our preemie journey, there are comments that people regularly say that make me cringe. Here is my list of the remarks followed by the reasoning behind my displeasure.

1) Do you know how lucky you were?

Immediately after Charlie’s birth, I resented people making me say how lucky we were. At the time, I felt anything but lucky. If I was lucky, I would have carried my baby to term. If I was lucky, I would not have had to wait two days to see my baby and two weeks to hold her. For quite a while, I felt like I had lost. I certainly did not feel lucky.

Even now, I continue to hear the remark from people. I know we were lucky. I saw the people who were not. I am supposed to feel lucky all of the time. The truth is, on some days, I don’t. Those are the days that Charlie will not eat a drop, when another medical issue is discovered, or the days that I am exhausted from the special needs schedule combined with the emotional ups and downs. On the days I feel less than lucky, I feel guilty for not reveling in my good fortune. I know how many parents would love to have my worst day. The guilt is compounded on those days when someone reminds me that I should feel lucky.

2)What if something is wrong with her long term?

Yes, people actually ask this. I heard it more while Charlie was in the NICU and less now. I am not sure what I am supposed to say when people ask this. I am tempted to say, “Well, then we will give her back.”

3)Everything will be okay when she catches up.

Recently, it has become second nature for me to respond that everything IS okay now.

4)Preemies catch up by two.

I left the NICU believing this myth myself. I have come to realize otherwise. Just like every baby is different, every preemie is different. Charlie is a former micro preemie that will be struggling with the ramifications of her extremely premature birth past the age of two. People who remind me that other preemies catch up by two are not helpful in the least. On bad days, it feels like a kick in the gut.

5)Everything happens for a reason.

There was no reason for this. I grow tired of people trying to rationalize it. It is similar to trying to rationalize being dealt a bad hand. Sometimes, it just happens.

Although, I do believe that some good can come from all this.  I am not sure what that is yet. However, whatever good does come from it is not the reason that it happened.

6)What does not kill you makes you stronger.

It did kill the person that I was. It killed many of the relationships that I had. It killed the life that we were living. This experience may not have physically killed me but I am not the person that I was. Besides, I was strong before this. I did not need a tragedy for reinforcement.

I know people generally do not mean ill will when they say these things. Before Charlie’s early arrival, I could not have imagined the horror of the NICU. I suppose people who say these things are merely clueless.

I’m curious to hear from the other preemie moms. What comments make you cringe?

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About Rebecca Wood

In May 2012, my pregnancy ended three and a half months early due to severe early onset preeclampsia. This is my collection of thoughts and media. It is an attempt to document and discuss our experience of navigating the post NICU world. View all posts by Rebecca Wood

7 responses to “Lucky

  • Montana

    For me the innocent comment “It’s amazing what they can do these days!” is frustrating. Perhaps because it comes with the implication that my son is lucky to be here, as you mentioned. A reminder that had this happened any certain number of years ago, he wouldn’t have made it. It also puts the credit completely in the hands of medicine (for which I’m grateful, please don’t misunderstand) and takes it out of the hands of God. Maybe I feel it implies he’s doing better than could be expected, but I had “expected” much more. Regardless of my understanding that it is an innocent comment, it gets old to me, and I would rather have people comment on how difficult it must have been, or simply marvel at how well he’s done. Like you said, no one can understand what it feels like until they’ve been through it, and it’s wonderful to hear from other mothers of micro preemies. So thank you for sharing!

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    • woodra01

      That is such a great addition to the list. I forgot about that one. Yes, I hear the “If this happened such and such years ago, she wouldn’t have made it” frequently as well. It is not one of my favorites either.

      Like

  • Caitlynn

    I delivered twins at 24.4 weeks, my daughter was born still and my son spent 102 days in the NICU. Following are some remarks that drove me nuts and made me cringe. I wanted to add that I really do think generally people aren’t meaning to be hurtful by their comments, they just don’t think before they speak or know what to say. So here goes –

    1. “You are lucky you didn’t gain a lot of weight”. Do you think I’d prefer to not gain weight over my child fighting for his life in the NICU? This comment is unreal if people really would prefer to not have to work out to lose some weight by delivering early over having their baby suffer in the NICU.

    2. “At least you have one” Well, of course we are so very grateful and blessed that one of our twins lived, and it would have been terrible to lose both, but we still lost a baby. When someone loses a mom, you wouldn’t say “at least you have your dad”, right? A comment such as “I’m sorry you lost your daughter, but happy your son survived” would be more appropriate.

    2. “Can you imagine how hard it would have been if you had two preemies to raise that might have health issues?” Oh yes, I do imagine, almost every day and and wonder what it would be like to have to opportunities to raise them together. Raising two children would be much less painful than mourning the loss of one, I know that for sure without a doubt.

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  • katiecarr29

    I definitely know Charlie is amazing and I love that you blog about her and your experiences!! It helps everyone get a little insight into your lives and the day to days rather than just the huge milestones (like standing!!). I remember reading an article about women who have cancer and the things they hated hearing (everything happens for a reason, God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle, if you need anything . . .) And it was so insightful to read how it sounded to someone going through the experiences rather than us floundering on the outside. Thanks for sharing!!

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    • woodra01

      Katie, I never want to hear “If you ever need anything…” ever again. The interesting thing about that line is that almost everyone says it and hardly anyone follows through. After a while, I understood it to be the polite way of avoiding involvement.

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  • Heather L

    I hated hearing that God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle. That was fine for me, but why would my son be given SO much to handle? I wrote a blog post about this one: http://jackryansjourney.blogspot.com/2013/03/more-than-you-can-handle.html

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