Tell me about being/having a preemie

My best friends just had their first baby - 5 weeks early!

The husband is not the most detailed-oriented fellow, nor is he one to be pessimistic, so so far I’m under the impression from him that everything is hunky-dory and he’ll just need some incubation, kangaroo care and a cpap for a week and he’ll be good to go. I say cool beans if that’s the case!

What do they have to look forward to once he comes home? How about the development of a preemie? Anything special they will run in to?

I have a friend who was a preemie and she’s definitely different. She had problems in school and still lives at home at 34. Nice girl, just…slow.

That’s the only preemie I know - unless they are everywhere and you wouldn’t know it!

So, talk to me. I’ll be back later, I’m going to go visit the family in the hospital and gawk at little Jack through his special box :slight_smile:

Depending on his size, one problem can be finding toys and clothes for him. An acquaintance started an online business selling preemie sized toys after she couldn’t find any for her tiny little one.

Yay, Jack!

I’m the mom of a micropreemie, which is a whole different, scarier, kettle of fish. A baby born at 35 weeks (“5 weeks early”), if he has no other health conditions like a heart condition, is what they call a “feeder and grower” in the NICU. His dad is right, the prognosis for a 35 weeker is almost identical to a full term infant, he just needs a little extra time to finish baking under medical supervision. In fact, it’s quite possible that he’ll go home before his due date, if he learns to eat well and the parents are quick learners.

My daughter was born at 23 weeks, almost 24 weeks, from my last menstrual period, so 21, almost 22 weeks of actual gestation. Here’s the thread from when it all happened, which I updated for quite some time with our fears, triumphs and the occasional setback.

I’ll add this update for you: she’s 6 and a half (and quite insistent about that half!) now and doing wonderfully. She still doesn’t need glasses, much to our surprise. She’s reading at a 3rd grade level and about to go into first grade. She can add, subtract and is beginning multiplication. She has gross and fine motor skills right on target for her age, and is the star of her piano class. Yes, I’m bragging here! The only problem she has which is related to her prematurity is “delicate” lungs. She doesn’t have asthma, but she does still tend to get bronchiolitis once or twice a year when she gets a cold (although not nearly so often as she used to - we discovered she’s gluten intolerant (not related to prematurity) and when we took her off gluten, her bronchiolitis episodes decreased dramatically). She was in the hospital this January for a few days with pneumonia. She’s a little small for her age, but so was I, and so was her brother, so that may have nothing to do with her prematurity.

We were also incredibly lucky. Lots of micropreemies have short and long term disabilities, including blindness, deafness, cerebral palsy and other icky things.

One thing I’ll suggest: breast pumps are good. Get on those nurses to get her a breast pump if Jack can’t nurse yet. They can give him her pumped colostrum and breast milk, and greatly reduce his chances of getting NEC - an infection of the bowel that happens more often with preemies than full term infants. It took them 3 days to get me a breast pump, and I’m still pissed about it!

Depending on how things go, it’s quite likely that there will be nothing different for Jack at all once he goes home. If his pediatrician has any concerns about his development, there’s a program called Early Intervention (it may have different names in other states, but every state has some form of it) which can bring an Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist and/or Speech Therapist into the home for evaluation and therapy as needed. EI services kids up until age 3, and then will help the parents transition into the school system for extra resources as needed.

As a friend, just be excited for them. Coo over the pictures, and try not to look too shocked at any medical equipment you see. The thing I valued the most from my friends was joy in my daughter’s birth. I had to deal with the hospital, with things not going at all like I expected, with all that medical stuff…I just wanted my friends to say “congratulations!” and “what a beautiful baby!” and all that other stuff any mom wants to hear.

Also, gift cards and/or cash are great, if they’re not wealthy. My friends gathered about $80 to help pay for the parking at the hospital (reduced, but not free, for us) and it really helped a lot.

My first wife was eight weeks premature, and cognitively, she’s fine. She’s now an Ivy-league graduate and a doctor.

She had been told that the lungs are the last thing to develop in gestation, and she has always had off-and-on trouble with asthma-related problems.

I was born 4 or 5 weeks early according to my parents. I don’t remember exactly how early they said I was born but it was early enough that they didn’t make baby clothes that fit me. My mom still has a collection of doll clothes that she bought when I was a baby so I wouldn’t spend my first month on the outside mostly naked.

Other than being heavy I am totally fine. I did well in school, graduated college, moved across the country, etc. without issue. I have never been overly ill or otherwise had any indication that being born prematurely had any effect on me.

I was 4 - 5 weeks early, too (in 1968) - spent a few weeks in the hospital. Cognitively I’ve been fine. I’m short and a tad asthmatic, but both those traits run in the family anyway. I did have double inguinal hernias surgically repaired as an infant, as soon as I got big enough that it was safe.

My younger son was born at 34 weeks. He had an arrhythmia for the duration of my pregnancy, and was delivered by emergency c-section during a routine checkup. Good times! He was a big butterball (for a preemie) and started nursing well after only a few days. He was only in the hospital for four days.

He continued to have the arrhythmia for about six weeks, then it went away. He’s now two and a half, and totally normal. As WhyNot mentioned, our ped suggested that we have him evaluated by Early Intervention, just to be sure he was developmentally on track, and he was, both physically and cognitively. Preemies do tend to be behind on their milestones at first, but they can catch up quickly.

I was about 4 weeks early in 1973, although I was close to 10 lbs at birth (so perhaps the due date was off). I’m pretty normal, I suppose. Did well in school, including grad school. No health issues.

My first son, now fourth months old, was born at 35 weeks. He was small and was not breathing on his own when he came out. The medical folks swooped in and breathed for him for a few minutes. He didn’t go without oxygen for any significant length of time. He did spend his first four days in the NICU.

He just had a regular checkup Wednesday and the doctor said he is doing perfectly fine. I guess we’ll see how he turns out in the years to come, but we have no special worries about him and expect him to be completely normal. My wife (also a doctor, and a worrier) is not worried at all about his development. He’s active and happy, and he’s now in the 50th percentile for weight, having quickly porked up since his arrival. He’s still a bit short for his age, but I blame my 5’2" wife for that. I have to needle her about something.

Thanks for the stories, y’all. Glad to know that preemies can grow up to be Dopers, if not normal :wink:

He was 5lb 9oz at birth so he would have been super huge on his due date, I suspect. The labor and delivery was completely normal (no emergency anything) so that helps with the size thing. They were afraid he wouldn’t have fit into his 0-3 mos. clothes he got at the shower. Now he can!

He’s not eating or breathing on his own yet but mom is having breast milk stored already.

I don’t need to take up any collections or anything for them…I just threw an extremely expensive baby shower. LUCKILY I chose to throw it last Saturday and not THIS Saturday or next!

My oldest surviving sister was born 8 weeks early nearly a half century ago when much less was known about caring for preemies. Not slow at all, in fact, she’s the brain of the family, 4.0 GPA in high school and college, 4 degrees including an MD, has two kids of her own (both full term), not a darn thing wrong, off, or odd about her.

Of course, not every preemie does so well, but I choose to be optimistic whenever possible.

Mom said that I was born 3 months premature at a pre-metric weight of 2 pounds 2 ounces. She also said that I almost died anyways, and only constant attention kept me alive; there was a nurse with me 24/7. I’d really like to see my medical records to confirm this.

Problems? I’m very nearsighted; one might also add face blindness and Asperger’s, but I’ve never been formally diagnosed for them. Also, I seem to remember having a lot of ear aches when I was a kid.

I was roughly 4 weeks premature and my mother had uterine cancer while she was carrying me. I was small, and for the first several months slept constantl,. It was an event when I’d wake up, mostly sleeping through feedings, diaper changes and the noise of 4 siblings under the age of 6. My mother was afraid there was something seriously wrong, but since it was 1961 and the doctor gave her “energy boosting” pills while she was pregnant, I think I was sleeping off a months-long high.


I was born ~7 weeks premature in 1981. Was born at 4lbs, dropped to a bit over 3 and then started gaining. Spent 4 weeks in an nicu before coming home, but according to my parents once I was home I was a normal baby. Her obgyn had fucked up the due date and did a c-section early.

Today I’m overweight, which has nothing to do with being a preemie, and blind in my right eye, which was caused by high levels of o2 given in the incubator. I’m told I’m lucky I’m not completely blind. It not something I notice often.

When my wife was pregnant her doc told her that, barring pregnancy complications, giving birth 2 weeks or less before her due date was still considered full term. Assuming that that is still the case, then perhaps the little guy is actually only 2 weeks early.

My daughter was 35 weeks, weighed 5 lb, 2 oz, lost an ounce and a half and then started gaining rapidly. She never had any problem, received no special care and came home with my wife after maybe 2 days. She is now 45 and has a high-level job as chief copy-editor with a scientific publisher. And a mother.

My mom is a neonatalogist, so she sees preemies pretty much every time she works. My oldest sister was born several weeks premature in 1962. My mom always describes her first weeks of life as ‘Newborn Coma’. She’d sleep and have to be woken up to eat. She’s an OB-GYN now and has three kids of her own.

It mostly depends on the baby. All sorts of things can be affected. There are usual some small developmental issues, that mostly even out by the time kids are 3 or 4.

I have a friend who was a micropreemie - just over a pound at birth, a miracle she survived. She had few developmental or health problems as a kid, and just got her Masters in physics. However she is 4’9" and has always been miniature, while her family is average height - that is almost definitely due to how darn tiny she was at birth.

I was 5 weeks early and am now a physicist, if that helps. No lung problems. The only problem I had was jaundice and that cleared up in a few weeks after birth, I think. Oh, and “cradle cap”–which I think is like dandruff. Very minor.

Sort of off-topic: If you are interested in the subject of micropreemiehood, google Holland and Eden. They are former micropreemies and they have a very informative blog.

Another preemie Doper chiming in. I was born at 32 weeks over 40 years ago. I weighed just over 4 lbs and dropped to just under. I stayed in an incubator for just over a month. The condition that had to be met for my parents to take me home was me weighing 5 lbs. That your friend’s son is already over that strikes me as a good sign. I’ve never had any health issues that I could relate to my preemiedom.

I’ve got 4 kids, and #3 was a preemie. He weighed in at 5lbs, 5oz, and dropped down to about 4lbs, 9z, before he started to pick up weight again, due to feeding problems.

He had trouble nursing, needed to be bottle fed (I pumped and fed him EBM for the first couple of months) and at around 1 month old, he caught a virus similar to RSV that put him in the NICU for a week.

Today, he’s 2 and a half, and out of my four kids, he was my slowest walker (17 months) and my slowest talker (only says a few words) and seems to get sick more often and stays sick longer than the other 3 kids. He’s at the low end of the scale for size and weight.

Hard to say at this point whether any of this is due to him being premature, of course…

My niece was about six weeks early, but she weighed almost six pounds so we figure she just got claustrophobic and wanted out. She was born on a Wednesday but went home that following Saturday. She was a little slow to crawl, but she went from crawling to running in no time.
Next month she’ll turn three, and she’s pretty much a normal toddler. Her speech is still hard to understand and she’s on the small side, but her mother (my sister) was the same way so it’s hard saying if that’s connected to being a preemie.