|When your baby was born prematurely,
birthdays can evoke emotional and complex feelings. On one hand, there is the joy of
having your child alive and with you now. On the other hand is the sadness and confusion
of loss and grieve. Memories of the traumatic birth and survival in the NICU are present
in a parent's mind, whether voiced or not. Thoughts of what might have been come closer to
the surface around this time.
On the Preemie-Child mailing list (http://www.comeunity.com/prematurity) we
have the chance to share our joy as our children pass milestones and accomplishments, as
well as our struggles and emotions over the difficult issues our children may face.
Birthdays and other holidays are times when members experience this dual tug of emotions
between the past and the present. The border between our dreams and fears and our present
reality merge again on these dates.
Jacque describes how the mixture of feelings remains but the strength of the memories
may slowly recede over many years. It truly becomes more difficult to remember how really
tiny our babies were.
"Our twins were born at 29 weeks, 2lbs 3oz and 2 lbs 11 oz. I, too, was unable to
see my boys for the first five days, except one time for five minutes as they were being
transferred to NICU at another hospital. Their birthdays always brought mixed
feelings...it seems to bring back all the memories of that rough time when they were so
"But now they are 9 years old, and I notice birthdays are less sad these days. I'm
always so thankful when I look at them and see what healthy, happy boys they are now. It's
true, as so many of us say, you'd never know they were so tiny to start with and went
through so much." Janet shares her feelings at her twin's tenth birthday."
"Ten years ago this afternoon, my sister-in-law was videotaping their tiny,
struggling bodies through the glass window of the NICU. Today, I took pictures of Jacob
and his friends rolling and throwing (LOL) bowling balls down the alley lanes. Clint
was laughing nearby. He could not see the game due to detached retinas. He could not
participate due to severe cerebral palsy. But he could hear it, and he thought the
sound of bowling balls was as "funny" as the black-powder cannon blasts at our
town's annual Civil War battle reenactment! Just hearing his laughter made me
realize how far even Clint has come!"
"Today, Jacob is little but physically strong, and as I write this, he is bouncing
his basketball out in the driveway. His mind is bright despite a Grade 4 IVH, and he
"escaped" serious disabilities -- no shunt, no seizures, no eye-related
problems, etc. He does have common preemie problems such as hyperactivity,
impulsiveness. and social immaturity. They are both a challenge and a joy, and their
parents are just thankful it is 10 years hence!"
Michelle finds that faith and hope help her to focus on the celebratory aspects of her
"My daughter will be 5 in Oct. She too is a former 27 wkr, 2 lb 3
oz. Although I can still vividly remember the stress of my hospitalization and then her
NICU stay, especially the overwhelming feelings of having no say whatsoever in the turn of
events, I always felt that at least God is in control, and for some reason, I recall never
having any doubt that she would not only survive but thrive".
"You are definitely NOT alone with your mixed feelings. For me, I've always looked at
Sammie's birthday as a victory day, and we celebrated her first birthday as such..."
"It is hard to understand the why's of it all, but somewhere, there's hidden treasure
in this preemie parenthood. I hope we all can keep the optimism necessary to find