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Vonda's Parenting a Preemie Journal

Entry #1 - March 22, 2002
~ Eight months, but really six months

One of the toughest things that I have had to deal with since having a preemie is learning to be patient with her development. When she was first born, I thought, oh, this means she may walk early, talk early, etc. Then, I started hearing about how premature babies are always "behind" on everything. Thankfully, my best friend, a social worker, was around for Adriana's birth. She told us to go by Adriana's due date and not her birth date.

When we first brought her home, all she seemed to do was sleep. I was ready to play with my baby and see her do all the neat things like smile on purpose, roll and all the other developmental milestones. We would give her a bottle and she would tire out while we were giving her the bottle. She would then sleep for a couple of hours and wake up when it was time to feed again. Maybe full-term babies are also like that, but when your first baby is premature, you always wonder if what she is doing is normal or not.

Every time she seemed to be making progress, she would have a setback. Around November, she started staying awake more and an early intervention specialist began working with her. Towards the end of the month, Adriana started acting like she wasn't feeling well. We took her to the hospital and they discovered she had pneumonia. Of course, when your child is sick, you don't want to push them to work on developmental skills. So, we delayed trying to work with her. In December, she started acting like she was going to roll. About a week before Christmas, we all came down with a bad cold. Once again, I didn't push her to do the exercises we had been told to try with her.

Two days after Christmas, I had my first glimmer of hope that she is going to be okay developmentally. She was rocking back and forth, and then she was so far over that she landed on her tummy. We were so excited and applauded her big move. Of course, she wasn't happy and she quickly let us know it. This would have been almost three months from her due date, which from what I have read, is about right on time. Since then, she has been adding new things almost right on track from her due date. Her doctor says she lags behind on some things, but on others she is ahead. Her early intervention specialist has been pleased with her progress, and we have had to come up with new goals for her because she has met the ones we first set. I have to remind myself that when I read what other babies are doing so I don't get down, because I feel like it was my fault that she came early.

One of my favorite things to do when we are in doctors' offices is to watch reactions when people ask how old she is. When we tell them, they automatically get this confused look on their face like, "Did I really hear her say eight months?" Then, they usually say, "She's so tiny." When they say that, we try to give them a short version like, "She was premature," but you know they want to know more but they are too polite to ask. Then I debate about how much people want to know. If they seem interested, I tell them a little bit more of our story, if not, I just leave it at "She was premature."

Next, I think she will be sitting up soon. Now, if we can just get those teeth to come in . . .

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