22 September 2012

Preemie Mom Favors

If you're pregnant and a preemie mom offers you a gift or a favor it is coming from a different place in her heart than from the rest of Club Motherhood. Not better or more magnificent - just different, and it's important to understand that in case you ever come across one in your life.

prematurity, preemie moms, preemie mom feelings, relating to full term babies
My 24 week bump shot. Our house burned down 11 days later.

Preemie moms have experienced a loss that can never be described correctly because when it falls on Club FT (full term) Motherhood's ears it sounds like jealousy. Don't get me wrong - we are, but not in a green way. It's more of an ache - an ache to know what it feels like to have a big baby moving around in your belly - an ache to pack a hospital bag with TLC, granola bars, fluffy slippers, and a special outfit that you'll be cozy in as you snuggle your newborn.

Moms should never have to leave their babies behind for days, weeks, months...have them, and then say goodbye, I'm going home to cry now.

We didn't get that final trimester and for many of us we won't have another chance either because we only want one child or there was trouble trying to conceive. Part of us will want to live vicariously if we feel close to you and feel you might understand our fragile hearts though deep down we know that no matter how close a friend you might be - if you visited NICU or listened to our heartbreak on the phone or over a much needed cup of coffee - you won't understand. That's good. We want you to make it to Club FT. Preemie sounds cute to some people. Like a club (which is why I've decided to base this entry on mythical motherhood clubs). But we don't want to let you in. However, if there comes a time when you find yourself carrying a cold, heavy card we'll welcome you with open arms, a shoulder to cry on, and listen. I have never met stronger mothers than those who have known loss.

This pregnancy was my story. It will be the only one I can relate to.

I won't know what it's like to be prepared for what's about to happen. Natural or epidural? No choice. I won't know what it feels like to need maternity clothes and nothing else and yet I'll cling like static to the ones I wore to be more comfortable in. I'll still check the waistbands of things I wore hoping to find evidence like a looser fit or stretched elastic but I won't. Silly, right? Maybe, but you're not in Club PTL (pre-term labor). Photographs of baby being born? Oh, no. Nobody thought to take those nor would your hands have been steady enough to take a shot of the scariest moment of your life. Who knows how that ride will end?

You've met the love of your life - and wondered immediately if that love would die. ...before you could hold your love, before you could touch them, or even see their face. Preemie moms never know what most moms take for granted.

The thing I was most excited about when I thought of Tristan's birthday was the moment he'd be lifted out of me and placed on my chest. I imagined that moment every day. It never occurred to me that he'd crowd-surf on a wave of neonatologists to a room behind the O.R. door.

When we get around moms with their bellies popping we remember our own excitement and thrills and dreams - we're right there with you! ...until you pass our gestational week...and then we wonder. What's it like? Often we just want to run away - or we cry when you aren't looking. Happy for you and yet raw from what we thought was Having a Baby ala What to Expect When You're Expecting.

I never thought I'd have a baby shower............while my baby sat in an incubator a half mile away being cared for by people who weren't me - while I tried frantically to trick my body into making milk, milk, lots of milk because that's all I had control over. I never thought people would wonder why it looked like I wasn't having a good time at my shower - I never faked being happy so hard.

Our living room housed every baby item down to the last tiny bib because if anything happened I'd decided I could just shove it all directly out the window.

On his third week of life I dared to put a star-shaped smiling sponge in our bathroom. I thought I'd surely jinxed myself.

Not every mom in Club PTL feels this way but most will to some extent. They can relate at the very least. Club FT will talk about the aches of third trimester and whether or not they used enough cream to stop stretch marks.

Some might say this is a case of The Grass is Always Greener - and you're right if you mean, it is always greener to not have a preemie. Our babies weren't meant to be seen yet. You saw Tristan 10 weeks early. The week What to Expect told me his lungs would finish developing. We were supposed to wait nearly two and a half months - a trimester left of developing. Hello, PTSD. Club PTL owns timeshare there.

We try to cover up our injured hearts through other gestures in order to bridge that awkward gap and let you know we care.

Sometimes we'll fall flat on our faces - other times you'll be blinded by your own glowing, growing pregnancy to our good intentions. It's better to be lost in bliss. But for prematurity awareness' sake - pull off the blinders. We don't all get the dream.

What I'm trying to say is we're awkward when we mingle and can have random emotional outbursts. Time might not heal all wounds, but it does indeed ease them.

For the sake of not writing a novel Club Childless is left out of this particular equation.


  1. So well stated. I'm club micro-preemie Mom (26w/5d) via pre-eclampsia. Thanks for writing.

  2. Oh my heart, I want to hug you! I just read your birth story and your premie mom favors and cried! Happy 3rd birthday , a month late, little guy!!!! I almost shared my story, but this is about you. (:
    loved how transparent you are with your story, you're a talented writer!


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