Ten Ways Life Changes After Having A Preemie

10 ways

1) You have acquired basic nursing skills. During my baby’s NICU stay I learned to give epo injections, insert an NG tube, read monitors, perform infant CPR, and various other skills. Many were required in order to take my baby home.

2) The smell of hospital food makes your stomach turn. With my stay on the high risk perinatal unit included, we have spent over one hundred days of Charlie’s first year in the hospital. I could happily live my life without ever tasting hospital food again. I don’t know why they serve it every year at the NICU reunion.

3) Sizes lose all relevance. Charlie fit into newborn clothes for three months after she came home from the NICU. At the age of two, she wears sizes twelve to eighteen months.

4) Simple questions become complicated. The questions that people generally ask new parents can’t easily be answered. It starts in the NICU with “When is he/she coming home?” Then it continues with questions like, “How old is your baby?” or “Are you breast feeding?”

5) You learn loads of medical terminology. You know what a physiatrist is. You understand what words and abbreviations like apnea, bradycardia, IVH, tachycardia, desaturation, bilirubin, CPAP, hematocrit, NEC, PVL, and ROP mean.

6) Baby showers are complex situations. Baby showers are emotionally loaded. If you are brave enough to attend one, you wonder how to socially appropriately join conversations about birth stories and pregnancy. All the while, you are trying to get over that feeling of being the elephant in the room (being the physical proof of one of the many ways a pregnancy can go wrong).

7) People constantly remind you how lucky you are. I realize we were lucky. We got to bring our baby home. However, there are days I don’t feel lucky. On some days, I feel like we lost. On those days, I resent people who feel the need to tell me how lucky we are. I wonder why people don’t have the urge to tell every mother of a newborn how lucky she is to have had a full term pregnancy.

8) Things are put into perspective. For me, facing the possibility of losing my child was looking my greatest fear head on. Everything else in comparison is small potatoes.

9) You almost become an expert on insurance policies. As much as insurance companies try to misguide you, you’ve managed to learn about automatic denials, appeals, DME coverage, and much more. You learn not to accept the first “No” as the answer. You fight and you fight like hell.

10) No accomplishment is ever small. I remember the date that Charlie first rolled over (January 27, 2013) and the date she took her first steps (January 7, 2014). She worked incredibly hard to reach these developmental milestones and nobody was sure that she would reach them. Every little thing, from tolerating food in her mouth to learning to wave, is a cause for celebration.

happy preemie


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

8 responses to “Ten Ways Life Changes After Having A Preemie

  • Faizah Zainal

    i can totally relate to this. I have a preemie too who was born at 26 weeks. Now she is 6 years old 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  • Andréa

    11) You will never forget any of it. I have 13 year old twins, born at 29.5 weeks, and our time at the hospital is just as vivid today as it was 13 years ago. I remember my heart breaking the day I left the hospital and my babies didn’t. I cried all day that day and didn’t want to talk to anybody. There was nothing my husband or anyone else could do to “make it better”.
    12) If you have a parent who lives close, they will eventually refer to the NICU experience as when *we* had the kids in the NICU(even though *you* were there every day and *we* were not). That one still ticks me off.

    Liked by 1 person

  • laconner2013

    Once a doctor and then teams of doctors tell you your child may not survive, you are never the same. My son (26 weeks/0 days gestation)has had to fight for every milestone. People always said “Oh you must spoil him so much because he was a preemie.” The truth is we couldn’t spoil him because we couldn’t take that “fighter instinct” away from him. It’s one of the reasons he survived and is thriving at almost 5 years of age. My preemie was carried by a gestational carrier who gave birth in a hospital 3 hours away from where we live. We weren’t there when he was born. The doctors said he could die before we arrived at the hospital. All I could think of is that my son could be born and die without his parents ever touching him. The preemie experience changes you forever.

    Liked by 1 person

  • lipstickandplaydates

    Having been in NICU and PICU this piece hit the nail on the head. The lucky comment always irriated me given it always came from people with healthy kids.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Kathy

    Be aware that when the anniversary of your baby’s birthday and due date can make you feel like you have lost the baby or some type of death/grieving feelings. This is normal. It is the loss of what you had expected. When something changes what we expected for our children is different from the normal” we grieve for the loss of our dreams and hopes of what we thought their life would be like. Just in case you are sad at these times and didn’t know why.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Jennifer P

    Thank you for this piece. I am the mother of a 25 week boy who was born 2 years after the loss of his 18 week sister. No words can express how profoundly your life changes after the NICU experience. It is forever a part of you. Much of the time it seems like it was just yesterday even though my little guy just turned 3. People don’t realize it because the NICU and the world where you may or may not bring your child home is such a distant alternate reality to them.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: