The Things People Say

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 that 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?

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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

4 responses to “The Things People Say

  • Keri

    This is so true. I especially agree with ” but she’s so cute” and “you worry too much.” The “but” in the former is what really gets me. It’s like, are you saying, “but, he’s so cute, it’s impossible he has special needs?” Or “but he’s so cute, you really shouldn’t concern yourself with all that other stuff going on.” Which brings me to the latter ….when people say I worry too much, I will direct them to your perfect response. These are the same moms who break down in tears and say how awful they feel when their child (during a well child visit) needs to get his/her shots. Do you know how many times micro-preemie moms hold back tears of worry (terror) on an hourly basis at the notion that our babies’ survival is completely in the hands of someone else in the NICU. We’d kill for a yearly “shot” instead of months of constant “shots,” blood draws, transfusions, procedures, ultrasounds, X-rays, suction, ngtube feedings, ROP and PDA ligations just to name a few of the regular occurrences!?
    Also, you touched on this, but this bugs me too, “well, he’s fine now, right?” or, “at least he’s fine now.” I want to say, LISTEN- my kid just turned four and he has NEVER ONCE experienced a week of life without at least 6 appointments. These babies work harder than most adults I know. PT, OT, Speech, Feeding, Special Ed, Clinic, Vision, Music Therapy, etc….each of those multiple times per week, plus figuring in the typical followup specialist appointments does not equal FINE. But, I think people look at how “cute” they are, and assume nothing is going on behind the scenes. Plus, you can’t tell by looking at a cute kiddo that at four they’re still not potty trained (because of sensory integration issues) and are still eating stage one baby food because of oral defensiveness. I want to say all that, but I just nod, and say, “yup. fine now.”

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  • Heather L

    I think I’ve learned that anytime someone comments and they start with “But” or “At least,” I’m probably not going to like what they have to say. As in, “but at least you missed out on the third trimester” or “at least he doesn’t have…”. And, yep, I wrote a whole post on the “God not giving you more than you can handle” phrase. My least favorite “explanation” for suffering/trauma/pain:

    http://jackryansjourney.blogspot.com/2013/03/more-than-you-can-handle.html

    I was just going to write a post this weekend, at the different end of the spectrum, about the more positive things people said and did. It’s harder to come up with that end of the spectrum, but I’ll give it a try!

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    • Becca

      I agree. I don’t think I would have enough positive things to fill a post. Someone did say to me, “I want to help you but I don’t know how.” The honesty of that statement really touched me. The sentiment was understood.

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