For strangers, it's sometimes shocking to find out that Bea was a former micro-preemie; because well, she just doesn't look like it anymore.
For the most part, I've even stopped giving people the whole, "Well, she's 15 months, but really, she's sort of twelve, but she acts more like fourteen" speech. Terms like "Gestational Age" and "Corrected Age" only make an occasional appearance.
And for all of that; I am so beyond thankful.
Lately however, I've found myself facing a new public battle because of how great she's doing. She doesn't look like a preemie on the outside. But on the inside are the heart and lungs and most importantly, the immune system of a baby who was once only two pounds and required a machine to keep her lungs inflated.
That's the reason why, fifteen months later I still get freaked out when a stranger touches my child. When someone wants to hold her, and there has been no hand-washing, I get a little skiddish about passing her off ; even to family members. We watch the weather for terms like "Code Red" air quality days and she's not allowed around smoke. We still, to this day, do not feel totally comfortable taking her around large crowds; and if someone coughs or sneezes nearby, well, we high-tail it out of there.
Recently, a preemie web site posted an article about the insensitive comments NICU parents receive and the long lasting effects they cause. Seemingly harmless things like, "Oh your baby is so small" or "They need to build up an immune system anyway" are said. A. Lot. I'm sure most people think they're being helpful or are just trying to be nice but, it does more harm than good for parents of a Miracle Baby.
Yes, sometimes we are
In the end, it comes down to one thing. It's the thing that sucks the most about prematurity: Its be a life-long condition. It's effects don't release their vice grip on our child's life the second she's discharged from the hospital. Yes, she needs to build an immune system someday but I can promise you that it doesn't need to come from your
Trust me, she will probably get all the immune system she needs from the dog hair she licks off the floor everyday anyway.