After surviving our harrowing birth experience, it was difficult to reintegrate with everyday society. The conversations and comments seemed irrelevant. We shared in anything but the common experience. Over a year later, I continue to feel somewhat detached from the world outside of the preemie realm. These are a few examples of the daily encounters that remind me that we exist in a different world.
Baby Related Websites:
If you have ever visited a baby related website then you are familiar with the standard questionnaire used to personalize such websites. One of the questions involves the baby’s age. Based upon the baby’s age, it provides pertinent information and advice. The problem lies in that my baby eats and babbles like a young infant, is as mobile as an older infant, and has the cognitive skills of a toddler. Charlie’s actual age is useless, as is her adjusted age for these inquiries. I have yet to figure out an age to enter on these websites that will result in relevant and useful information.
What Not To Buy Articles:
Along with lists of essential baby items, websites will include an article of superfluous baby items. The issue with these is that I regularly use about half of the items on any given What Not To Buy For Your Baby list. Baby bath tub? Fifteen months later we still use it. Bumbo seat? We used it for six months. Play pen? I could not imagine our baby experience with out it. Newborn sized clothing? Our baby wore it for three months. These articles are particularly aggravating to me. Most likely, they irritate me because the author assumes that everyone else’s baby experience is identical to theirs.
Seeing Others Progress:
After Charlie had been in the NICU for over a month, most of the babies that were there when she arrived had gone home. The part that bothered me was seeing babies arrive after Charlie and then go home before her. It felt like we were stuck while everyone passed us by. Outside of the NICU, the experience is replicated by seeing babies younger than Charlie’s adjusted age hit milestones that she has been working on for some time.
Baby Gear Does Not Fit:
When Charlie left the NICU, we had a beautiful travel system someone had given us. Because Charlie was too tiny, we had to wait before it would become a staple in our daily lives. Instead, we purchased the smallest sized car seat we could find with preemie inserts (for temporary use). Even then, we had to roll up receiving blankets to use as support for Charlie. That was the beginning of our experiences with ill suited baby gear. By now, we have found ways to make toddler swings, strollers, bouncers, high chairs, and etc work for us despite our baby being too small for them.
NICU parents, what daily occurrences act as reminders that you are a NICU parent?