A Day To
|By: Catherine Hewitt|
|Last Sunday, Alex, my 6 yr old preemie had his NICU
reunion. This was a Big Deal. Alex's NICU has one big reunion 5 years after the
fact. We've waited 6 years for this. This year it was for kids born in 1991 and 1992
(birthweights under 1500 g).
Back in 1992, NICU time, I knew maybe 3 or 4 kids and parents. Being a regional NICU, the distance was just too much for most parents to be there all the time. For 5 years I have wondered what happened to them. I've talked on the list about them, obliquely in some cases. Now I know. The 22 weeker did survive, although tiny, blind, walking bravely with a cane. The mother is still the same stand offish, know it all person that she was. This was her second preemie and she could have given some advice to the rest of us but she was so wound up in medical stats at the time. The 25 weeker did well! (heh) my kid. The other 25 weeker, a surviving twin, whose mother was told of her child's PVL on the day of discharge, is a lovely disabled girl, her parent's marriage long gone. The 26 weeker who spent about a week on the vent has had no problems at all and is perfectly bilingual to boot. Her mother's first words to me "so did you find out why you had preemies, I've wondered for 5 years why that had to happen to you" I couldn't believe, yet could, that someone would care and wonder after all these years.
I was so HAPPY that the ones I cared about did better than expected. I did have an idea of what happened, from a bit of gossip at the follow up clinic but to see them all in person was amazing. 5/6 years is a long time but it is a good length of time too. They had a display of NICU equipment and the kids were curious, but not overly so. Most of them had an idea that they were special in some way, tiny babies they were, but then balloons beckoned and off they went. The nurse manning the display was the one that ripped Alex's chart out of my hands many years ago. She was still as pointy headed as ever.
All preemies are skinny. It was easy to pick the preemie kids out from their siblings, based on body shape alone. Lots of thick glasses too. Subtle reminders of disability, of scars painfully acquired. Quietly in the corner, away from the ruckus of kids running around were several children, profoundly disabled, having their ice cream too. Their parents weren't going to miss this event either, their kids have survived, they made it, where's the party?
And that's what it was, a wild party, excited kids and parents who didn't really know each other, but did know each other on the deep level that only a preemie parent can. It sure is worth it.
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