Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Before Nine Months: Premature Babies

Whether a pregnancy is a first baby for the expectant mother, or she has had other children, the excitement of a planned pregnancy is always exhilarating. One of the first things she will do after having the pregnancy confirmed by a doctor is to "count the days" to see when her new son or daughter will be joining the family.

Many things are planned around that due date including shopping for the baby and preparing the nursery. It was the same for me when I found out that my daughter was due to be born on September 27. The only problem was that labor started on August 20 and after a frightening middle of the night and morning, it was determined by the doctors that labor should not be stopped and the baby was indeed going to make her presence known five weeks early.

Very fortunately, she was incredibly healthy from the beginning and she only had to wear a knit cap for the first few days to keep warmth from escaping. We had to stay in the hospital for five days but that was because of my blood pressure, nothing with the baby.

The first challenge I faced was that the smallest available diapers were too large. A nurse gave me a number to call so that I could order preemie diapers directly from the company. They were waiting on the porch by the time I got back home. The smallest baby clothes were also too big, so the nurses suggested shopping for doll clothes. That didn't work out too well for me because I found that doll clothes are not soft and they could easily scratch that delicate skin.

There was a slight problem with getting her to take any of the formula they wanted her to drink in the hospital but the nurses helped with that. The strongest memory I have of the hospital stay is the first time I changed the diaper. They had the little one wrapped in blankets and when I started unwrapping my little squirming gift-of-baby, it was more than a little shocking to see how small the actual newborn was when I got to her. The blankets tended to conceal the size of a tiny person inside of all those blankets.

The early birth not only switched some of my own plans around, but also those of the baby's grandmother and aunts. They were planning a baby shower for the end of August, four weeks before she was supposed to be born. It was decided that the party would still be held on August 30. Most of the guests liked it that way because they were able to know that they were shopping for a girl.

It took a while for her to "catch up" to other babies in the area of weight, but her length was comparable to other newborns. Everything else happened on time, including walking one day before her first birthday.

It is important to remember that babies can be born prematurely and thrive as well as a full-term baby barring any severe medical problems. This of course is determined by many factors including birth weight and how far along the pregnancy was at the time of delivery.