Letting Go of Preemie Parenting

January 17, 2013

PB101 imageA mantra I have lived by since the day our son was born has been “My son may not always be a preemie, but I will always be a proud preemie parent!” While that sentiment rings true, as Jayden’s early start certainly changed my outlook on life and appreciation of little things, we are facing much different challenges as we dive head first into preschool.

My wife and I are amazed at the pace Jayden is growing. I think most parents who have had preemies can relate to the anxiety of weight gain. It’s a huge deal, especially early on in your child’s life. At three and a half years old, our son is a whopping 44 pounds and is 3’4″ tall. So much for those concerns, I suppose.

At the end of the day, the one aspect of preemie parenting I haven’t gotten past is the idea of “holding my breath.” Since the day Jayden was born, I have spent countless nights wondering if tomorrow would be the day he…

Rolled over
Sat up on his own strength
Picked himself up
Started walking

Jayden managed to hit most of his milestones at a relatively expected pace. While we still get nervous anytime Jayden gets the sniffles, the focus of our concerns have shifted to that of a toddler, as opposed to that of a preemie. How is he interacting with his peers? How has ample amounts of time with those kids helped his ability to communicate? Are we providing him with the tools necessary to help him thrive in school/life? Truth is, I’m not really sure I can answer those questions fully. Jayden loves school, and he is showing steady progress, like counting to ten and and doing his ABC’s. But we still have a long way to go. All the same, we make a conscious choice to celebrate even the smallest progress.

We aren’t facing preemie problems quite the same as we were the first couple of years. While we are still careful during flu and RSV season, we are by no means on lockdown anymore. We aren’t as consumed by his milestones as we once were. Speech and communication are certainly a large hurdle to get past, but by no means define who we are as parents or who Jayden is as a toddler. To all my friends in the preemie community still early on in their journeys, it does get easier. There will be a time you will learn to let go of preemie parenting.