One of the most common things I tell people when they ask how I am going with my almost 20 week old prem baby (14 weeks corrected), is “thank god he is my second’. Having your first baby comes with so much uncertainty, doubt, and overwhelm that if I’d had to add tiny frail limbs, the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), zero clue about feeding options or even how to change a nappy into the equation I think those first two weeks in hospital would have been so much harder, as well as the rest of our time at home so far.
Although I have two kids under two (it’s actually two under 19months at the moment), the difference between them and my experiences with the both of them has already been so different. A lot of this has to do with the fact that they are a different gender and their natures are definitely not the same, but it’s undeniable that the difference between a full term and a prem has really shaped our experience so far. So with that being said I thought I’d share 5 lessons my little premmie Alexander has taught me so far.
1. Comparison is the thief of joy: I’m sure other mum’s of two or more can relate to this one, but it’s almost second nature to start comparing things between your little ones. It starts from the pregnancies, to the birth and all the way up to the milestones. Not only is it a completely unfair equation between my two, it also takes all the beauty and wonder away from letting them each have their own separate experiences. Plus we always knew we got lucky with our first born aka the easiest most low matienence baby ever, so number two was never going to be the same ;).
2. Patience: This one is hard for me and one I still have to work at but I’ve definitely gotten better at it. He will get better at feeding, he will sleep through the night, he will be happy to play by himself etc. etc. I just need to have patience, enjoy where we are at and soak up all those baby cuddles and cry’s for mama
3. Celebrate the small wins: For the first month of Alexander’s life we lived for goals such as, maintaining temperature, drinking from a bottle and not a tube, jaundice levels going down, gaining weight. Such small things that gave us so much joy every time we saw progress but also almost ripped out heart out when there was a setback. When you see a tiny baby learning to function on the outside when really they should still be cosy on the inside, every positive moment, every step forward is celebrated and appreciated. So often in today’s society people only celebrate big moments like promotions, engagements or awards but we work really hard at celebrating all the small victories and joys in our life.
4. Trust: Leaving my baby every night in the hospital full of strangers while I went home to my family was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. It felt so unnatural and unfair to leave a piece of me behind every day but I really had to trust the doctors and the nurses and believe that he was exactly where he needed to be. Trusting my instincts and myself has also been huge. Although I do think that I had already gained a bit of this from my first baby, it definitely comes into play a lot more day-to-day with Xander. Hazelle was bang on time with every milestone, development leap etc. but Alexander sets his own pace and I have to trust myself to know when he is ready for each new step or when to hold back and allow more time.
5. Strength and resilience: These little babies are so much stronger than we think. Xander was a tiny 5 pounds and looked so small and frail to me, but we constantly got told that for a premmie, 5 pounds isn’t that bad! However, seeing him go from an incubator full of tubes and machines helping him function, to a beautiful, chubby, healthy baby is the most inspiring lesson in resilience I could ever imagine.