Showdown: Preemie vs. Fullterm

BabiesWhen I noticed the 2011 Black Bib Affair is right around the corner (September 27 at the Ramada in Fargo), it got me thinking about my experience with the good people of the March of Dimes. They helped me through the tense and emotional time I spent in the NICU with my first born.  

I’ve been blessed to give birth to two healthy kids. The first was born nearly six weeks early; the second on her due date. I can’t begin to describe the difference.

1. Delivery day. My preemie’s delivery day dropped completely unexpectedly. It was prior to any baby showers (which was great because we keep gender a surprise). No bags were packed, no names were picked (I adore spontenaity). I never had someone say to me “isn’t that baby here yet?!” I skipped the last month of weight gain.

My fullterm baby came on her due date. I fully experienced every moment of that last month of pregnancy; every back breaking, heart burning, sleepless moment of it. Bags were packed for weeks and I worked an eight-hour day through early labor before heading to the hospital.

Score one for the preemie.

2. First day home. We checked out of the hospital after 48 hours, our preemie didn’t. Instead, he checked into the neonatal intensive care unit for an additional three days. Going home without my newborn was not planned and was intensely emotional, in a bad way. There were too many needles in his tiny body and tubes in his nose and beeping machines. And I went home those nights without my baby to lay sleeplessly in bed and cry.

When we left the hospital after having our fullterm baby, she came home with us. She fit in a car seat without special accommodations. Her check out check up was five minutes of examination before the doc declared she was good to go.

Score one for fullterm.

3. Eating. For my preemie, we first needed to feed with a syringe. His mouth and jaw muscles had not yet fully formed so he was unable to suck on his own. When he graduated to a bottle, we needed to gently squeeze his cheeks with a thumb and forefinger while balancing the bottle between in order to assist him. We worked and worked and worked some more on nursing until he caught on at about a month and a half old.

During this time, I pumped between 8 and 12 times a day, to keep my milk supply up. I took him in for weight checks twice a week to ensure he was getting enough nutrition.

As a preemie, we couldn’t wait for him to wake on his own when he was hungry. Instead, we had the alarm set for every three hours to wake and feed him. Each interval had steps…

  1. Work on nursing at least 10 minutes on each side.Baby in incubator
  2. Record for doc how well the nursing went.
  3. Supplement with a bottle of breast milk.
  4. Record how much he ate.
  5. Change diaper.
  6. Record contents of diaper.
  7. Pump and store milk; clean pump.
  8. Back to bed… it all starts again in less than two hours.

I’ll not soon forget what it felt like when my fullterm baby latched on just minutes after being born. At three weeks old, after nursing exclusively and gaining weight steadily, she took the bottle like a champ. She wakes when she’s hungry, eats, and goes right back to sleep (as do I). Eating is a non-issue for my chubby smiling fullterm baby.

No contest.

Two to one, the fullterm baby wins, in this post anyway. But if I were to tell you all the reasons a full term baby is easier and healthier for everyone involved, WordPress would need to obtain more server space.

Participating in the Black Bib Affair helps people that don’t even exist yet. Plus it’s a ballroom full of the best food from the best chefs in the Red River Valley. Every baby deserves nine months. Your support of the March of Dimes helps ensure them.

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About Yo Adrienne Olson

Yo Adrienne Olson is a Fargo girl, a blessed mom, a lucky wife, an innovative communications professional and a closet entrepreneur.
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