|At our yearly Neonatal Appointment|
For those that didn't know, Brooklyn was born 12 weeks premature. She spent her first 13 weeks of life in the NICU at Primary Childrens Hospital. Call me doubly biased (since I work there!), but its a great place to be if you have to be in the hospital.
Brooklyn has been enrolled in a Neonatal Follow-Up program since she was released from the NICU. Its great fun for her...she gets to play with toys, color, hang out with other preemie kids and enjoy her 'progress' for 4 hours, about once a year, for 5 years. For me, it is such a stressful afternoon. I dread these appointments. What Brooklyn considers a fun afternoon is, in reality, an evaluation of her development. Its also a day to see the eye doctor, the hearing doctor, the nutritionist, the psychologist, the speech specialist and the general pediatrician. I am a PREEMIE MOM. By default I am the reason she came into this world early. So by default, any 'ahead' or 'behind' progress is mine to claim responsibility for as well. I am happy to report that Brooklyn is always an easy child for them to evaluate. She's right on target for the most part and has no lasting effects from her early arrival into this world.
I think these apppointments are tough for me, though. It reminds me of the guilt I will always carry regarding Brooklyn and the struggles she dealt with surviving her birth. I feel bad that she will be watched for any delays for quite some time still. I feel even worse that if she were to ever show some struggles with learning or attention span or whatever the "issue" may be that it would, again by default, be connected to her prematurity.
As a mom, especially a preemie mom, these little miracles have our fierce loyalty. And protection. And love. I brought her into the world too early. Way way too early. And I will FOREVER carry the burden of that guilt. So yes, these appointments are tough for this preemie mom. I cheer her on, I try my best to bridge the gap between her actual age and her should have been age, I feel horrible when she still cries getting on a scale (bad association from the RSV shots her first year of life), I feel even worse when she occassionally can't do/say/perform something a toddler her age should be able to do.
Brooklyn walked a little late...17 months to be exact. She has never been a great eater until the last 6 months (I'm sure her oral aversions were from the darn feeding tubes shoved down her little throat for all those weeks). She has always been petite -- genetics or prematurity? Yet, these appointments bring with them such pride when she does things they expect her to be doing (apparently Brooklyn is a bit of a chatterbox once she gets over her initial shyness). I leave these appointments exhausted, yet so proud of her! She's perfect by my standards (and of course by Roger's -- he has a favorite right now for sure...and though miss chunky cheeks Brynlee has him hooked, she is not the one that can get him to do absolutely anything like Brooklyn can!)
So to our little miss Brooklyn, congrats on another successful follow-up appointment! Forgive this guilty feeling mom for the things you've had to deal with in your short 3 years. We sure do love and adore you!