Everyone knows someone who knows someone who's had a tiny baby too early.
Maybe I'm too sensitive. Maybe the thick skin I've developed to deal with doctors who speak in gloomish doomish needs to spread to cover those with a total lack of understanding about what it's like to have a premature baby. Or two.
Examples of things that drive me up a wall:
"They're not walking yet?"
"Just wait until they're walking. You'll want to tear your hair out."
"What a healthy little boy you have! He must be your eater."
What has really been getting to me lately is the comments about how easy it must have been to only be pregnant for seven months, and general complainings about the end of normal pregnancies. Believe me, I understand that being pregnant is miserable for a lot of people, including me, but it's so, so much better than the alternative.
"Oh, honey. You don't even know what the third trimester is like. This is brutal."
"S/he can come out now. I'm done. I'm sure s/he's done cooking by now."
"36/37/38 weeks is fine. I'll see if my doctor can induce me. If s/he won't, bring me the castor oil."
The alternative? Having an underweight baby, one who often can't latch, one who frequently develops asthma. Worse? Watching your baby(s) hooked up to machines and being denied the ability to hold them, to nurse them, to dress them, commuting to see them, hooking your breasts up to a machine to extract that precious nectar instead of nuzzling their sweet noses to your chest.
Despite what lots of doctors allow, the March of Dimes wants all women to get to at least 39 weeks. Before then, babies' brains and lungs aren't fully developed. If you're reading this and getting mad at me for being preachy, please read this article:
Because my babies were born too soon, I couldn't:
-hold them until they were a day old. I was so lucky in this! Many NICU parents must wait a month or more.
-take them home until they were 9 weeks old. Again, I was very lucky in this! One friend stayed for nearly 100 days.
-breast feed. I'd always pictured myself as an extended breast feeder. When my milk first came in, there was enough for a small village. However, because I was hooked to a piece of machinery instead of to two tiny, sweet mouths, my supply quickly plummeted to one suitable for almost one baby. I pumped for 9 months, and still feel guilty for stopping. I think I mourn this the most. Where I'd pictured as precious moments with my children, I instead mindlessly watched episodes of Jersey Shore, waiting for my 25 minutes to pass.
My skin needs to get thicker, sure. But for this month, let me mourn the trimester I'll likely never have.
November is Prematurity Awareness Month. On November 17, please wear purple. Better still, make a donation to the March of Dimes or to your local NICU. Even better? Keep your baby in place til it's time to come out.
(Incidentally, Microsoft squiggly lines "prematurity," but not "squiggly." There's clearly more awareness work to be done.)