Three short years ago today, we brought Meghan home from the hospital. She weighed a whopping 4 pounds, 9 ounces, and left with a sleep apnea monitor attached to her.
She had lived at our local hospital for 79 days in the neonatal intensive care unit and then transitioned to the pediatric unit a few weeks before discharge. If I had not looked at the calendar today, I would have forgotten the significance of the date. I suppose it is a good thing that I’m beginning to let those scary times fade into the fabric of our lives, but her prematurity is still there, just about every day, reminding us. It is in the subtleties, for which a casual observer would miss.
The left side of Meghan’s body weakens the more she uses it. Eventually, she ends up dragging it along with her. God bless her for not noticing or missing a step anyway.
The beautiful shape of her face is well…; some may call this harsh, toaster-headish, where the sides of her head are flat. This is a badge of microprematurity I suppose.
Yesterday my little sister noticed that Meghan’s ankles are tipping in again. I shook my head yes and made a mental note to get her back to the physical therapist for a new set of orthotics.
When Meghan needs to see something off to her side, her entire head pivots to the left or right as necessary instead of just moving her eyes to the left or right. This is because she has little to no peripheral vision. Her retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) took care of that aspect. Again, Meghan is none the wiser to this fact.
Meghan’s personality is extremely fiery. She is bull-headed to say the least, but we’ve always assumed this aspect of her pays homage to why Meghan survived the NICU in the first place.
With the size of Meghan’s personality being so ginormous, you’d assume she was large too. That is not at all the case. Meggie weighs in at 26 pounds at 3 years old. She is tiny, like she has always been.
These are just a few of the subtleties. There are hundreds more I could offer, so I hope you get the idea.
Yes, we are blessed. Yes, we are lucky she survived, but I guess today’s entry is about reminding my readers that prematurity lasts a lifetime. It has implications that last far past being discharged from NICU. Being born early presents many challenges throughout the life span. Don’t let the media fool you into believing that all is well upon discharge. Things can and often do get better, but former preemies lives are not the same as children born full term. Former preemies have challenges. They can and do overcome some of them. So my advice is to pay attention to your full termer’s miraculous ability to race across the room at top speed, and then turn on a dime to scoop a toy off the floor. Take note that he/she doesn’t fall while trying to get the toy or go crashing into a nearby wall. Take note of your blessings. I know I have noted our blessings.
Yes, Meghan is a miracle. Yes, we deal with her former preemie issues everyday.
So Meghan, I pay homage to your daily struggles to make your life similar to the other children in your life. You are one of the strongest little creatures I know. I love you baby girl, and am so incredibly proud of you and your sheer will to live.