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Friday Five: Five Things I Wish I Knew as a Preemie Mom


Nothing Can Prepare You for Preterm Birth

I remember walking into the hospital the day my daughter was born and a doctor from the NICU, who would eventually become a voice of calm to my husband and I, asked me what my birth plan was. What kind of a question is that? What’s more, at that point, who cares? Most premature births are unplanned because they result from exigent circumstances (i.e. preeclampsia, issues with the placenta, fetal growth, etc) needing to get the baby out right away to save the mother, child or both.

Moms, Dads, Caregivers and Your Babies Are All Stronger Than You Know

When my daughter was in the NICU for 77 days, most days I felt depleted of energy and strength, but somehow I put one foot in front of the other, checked my emotions at the door to the NICU and I stayed positive. The truth is, when tasked with a difficult situation and/or a life threatening situation, our bodies go into fight or flight mode. This is a physiological reaction and automatic response to a threatening situation. Similarly, your baby while eating, sleeping and growing in the isolete, is fighting with everything he or she has to do on the outside world what most babies do on the inside world. This tenacity and feisty nature of not giving up will serve your child well when he or she grows older.

While a Scary Place, the NICU is Also a Special Place

When most people think about the NICU, they imagine a space with bells and whistles, babies crying, stressful situations and people shouting. While yes, monitors are machines that make noise and babies are fighting for their lives, by and large the NICU is a kind of sacred space. It is a place where moms and dads get to bond with their child for hours and hours on their chest while doing skin-to-skin (aka Kangaroo Care). Parents get to witness milestones, progressions and great strides firsthand. How great is that?

There Are Some Things You Just Can’t Control

One of the hardest lessons I had to learn when my daughter was born was that I had to surrender control and be on her schedule. Yes, all children do things in their own way and on their own time, however preemie babies have a completely different trajectory than most other babies. Premature babies often reach milestones in a more haphazard way and without logic. They can be ahead in one category yet behind in another. Instead of getting hung up on which month she should be rolling over, I found it more manageable to focus on all the incremental steps completed before tackling the task rather than the task itself. This allowed and still allows me to enjoy the journey and appreciate everything in her life.

Being a Preemie Parent Will Forever Change You

Becoming a parent is life changing for anyone. That said, being a parent of a premature child teaches you a skill set you never knew you had: empathy, caring, compassion, understanding and courage to name a few. More than all of these, having a preemie baby has further emphasized my own sense of optimism, faith, pride and joy in life. I have a new appreciation for human growth and development and I have learned to celebrate every victory, no matter how small it may seem. I look at my daughter and day after day I realize just how strong she is and how strong women can be.

Meet Jodi Klaristenfeld

Jodi Klaristenfeld is mom to Jenna, an adorable little girl who was born at 28 weeks due to a rare and life-threatening form of preeclampsia called HELLP Syndrome. After Jenna’s early birth, Jodi quickly discovered preemie families aren’t always given the support they need.
Preemie parents are thrown into the world of motherhood through an entirely different experience. When your family is in the NICU, you have to figure out how to be a mom while dealing with doctors, nurses, therapists and early intervention – all to help your baby reach milestones most hit on their own just days after birth. (Not to mention you might be healing, too.)
Jodi created FLRRiSH to be a light in the dark, a source of information and inspiration for preemie families. FLRRiSH’s goal is to spread awareness so every preemie parent feels served, acknowledged and understood.

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