It was my little girl’s birthday this week. She technically turned 2, though if she hadn’t been born 15 weeks early, she wouldn’t have been celebrating her second birthday until October. It seems odd that she will forevermore have a summer birthday when she should have had an autumn one. At some point we will need to decide whether we send her to school when she’s only just turned 4 or whether we wait and send her the following year. I guess it will depend on her development and whether she’s on track or not.
Many micro preemies like our little one (babies born under 800g and/or before 26 weeks gestation) suffer from development delays and cognitive issues. 20% develop severe cognitive disabilities by the age of 8, and a further 20% have mild to moderate cognitive problems. 10% of micro preemies have moderate to severe cerebral palsy. On top of this, micro preemies are more at risk of developing attention disorders like ADHD, anxiety and other mental health and social difficulties, such as extreme shyness that can persist into adulthood.
So the odds are stacked against us and the future appears a little bleak when you read the facts and figures, the statistics and the percentages. But on the flip side knowledge is power. Our awareness of these potential issues will hopefully lead us to act swiftly and sensibly if issues arise.
And for now she seems absolutely fine. She’s a happy, bright little thing, always giggling and laughing. Her speech is a little delayed and what she does say is pretty incomprehensible, but her understanding is quite advanced so we’re not worried. To be frank, it’s amazing she’s even saying anything at all given the rocky start she had…5 months in 4 different hospitals and then home oxygen for a further 5 months with another hospital admission over her first Christmas. There were many times we didn’t think she’d be coming home at all.
To that end, I was wondering if her birthdays might actually be quite hard for us – whether they’d trigger negative thoughts and emotions from the NICU journey. There were a couple of moments over her birthday when I felt a little teary. It seemed such a miracle that we were even celebrating her birthday at all. Normally, you just take birthdays as a given and don’t over think them. But I couldn’t help looking at her and feeling amazed that she’s become a little person after starting out so small and fragile and hopeless. She’s such a miracle in so many ways. But then again I guess all children are.