Little Lady is now 7 months old. No, I’m not sure how that happened either! My tiny little 3lb baby who I sat with day after day staring into her incubator is now a chubby 15lb and most importantly healthy.
She spent 9 weeks in Neonatal and came home weighing just over 4lbs. We are on the good side of things now but when we first bought her home it was all quite overwhelming. I really appreciated the people around me being understanding but sometimes people aren’t quite as accommodating. Understandably everyone wants to meet the baby that has been kept away from everyone for weeks but there are a few things to remember when visiting a premature baby and their family in the first couple of months of bringing them home. Most of these things apply to any newborn really but are even more important when visiting a premature baby. Here are the things I learnt.
Come healthy – It sounds so obvious but that cold that barely bothers you could be life threatening to a premature baby. Little Lady had to have monthly injections to stop common colds getting on her once chronic lung diseased lungs and turning into pneumonia. Don’t be offended if the parents ask you before you visit if you are ill or if they ask you to anti bac your hands before coming in. They are just protecting their precious bundle. The fear of the baby ending up back in hospital is always at the forefront.
Don’t expect cuddles – One of things the nurses told me when Little Lady was discharged was to keep her at a distance from people. So unlike when you usually visit a newborn you may not get offered a cuddle. I found this really hard to do. I wanted to show her off so much and pass her around for everyone to get a good look at but like my first point it just isn’t worth the risk.
Remember the siblings – Little Man didn’t have the usual experience of becoming a big brother. He had a sister who he visited weekly but at home it was still him and because of everything that had happened to us he got a lot of attention when she was in hospital. Little Lady actually coming home was a huge adjustment for him so I really appreciated people making a fuss over him too.
Don’t ask too many questions – It can be tempting to ask about what it was like in Neonatal or to ask about the ins and outs of baby’s health but from experience sometimes parents don’t want to talk about it. The sense of relief of being out of there was immense but it was also pretty overwhelming coming home with a bagful of medicines. It’s also a very traumatic experience. I find it hard to talk about even now. Watching your precious baby fight for their life every day is just awful and sometimes it’s just nice to celebrate that they’re home and that’s enough for the time being.
Muck in – Parents of premature babies are tired. So tired. Long hospital trips every day and quite often for the Mummy’s there have still been sleepless nights spent expressing, ringing the hospital and just feeling guilty at having to leave the baby at the there. So as with any other newborn visit; make the tea, bring food and offer help.
I hope this helps anyone that might be going to visit a prem baby and their family. It all sounds so obvious but it can often be overlooked. Before you know it that baby will be ready for all the cuddles!