Thursday, January 17, 2013

Explaining preemies to my preemie ...

We've had, what another friend recently described as a, "Bumper Crop of Babies" around these parts. Maybe it's something in the water, or maybe everyone decided to have Number 2 all at once, I don't know. But clearly, we didn't get the memo because at the moment, Beatrice Kate is one of three children we know who isn't expecting or recently gained a younger sibling.

Naturally, Bea has questions about these babies and why her friends all have babies but she doesn't- specifically, she asks almost daily where her baby sister is. Um, 1: We are not expecting any form of a baby and 2: Unless something's changed recently, I don't know if you can get a money-back guarantee on gender these days.

We get asked ALL. THE. TIME. by everyone under the sun and their mamas when Casey and I will be thinking about Number 2. For the most part, we're pretty much in agreement that Bea will be our "One and Done" for a variety of reasons, but mostly because there's a really, really good chance we'll have another premature infant. And having a preemie the first time was hard, and having a preemie with a toddler waiting at home seems exhausting. But explaining that concept to Beatrice Kate is useless. All she knows is that a younger sibling seems to be the latest accessory and she wants in on the trend.

For the time being, we've been able to hold off her Sibling Demands by CONSTANTLY talking about the other babies we know. She loves to talk about their, "teeny tiny hands" and "teeny tiny feet" and their "tiny, tiny little shirts and hats". We talk about their tiny noses and whether her baby dolls are smaller than these babies.

And then the other day, she asked the questions I knew were coming at some point- "When I was a baby, were my hands tiny too?", "When I was a baby, were my hats tiny?"...

Oh. Um. Hmmm. How exactly do I explain to my three year old that her hands were smaller than a stamp when she was baby, her arm smaller than Daddy's ring finger?:
How do I tell her that the babies she sees? They are bigger than she was when she was nine months old, and they're all less than 3? Her hats? They were knitted on apples, and then oranges, to get the correct sizing for her baby head. Her first diaper was smaller than a pantyliner. Her first shirt was the size of my hand.
But how do I explain that to her? How do you explain the classifications of "micro" and subkilo to a toddler, who assumes that all babies come in one size- chubby. It's impossible, at least for me.

Prematurity is a funny thing isn't it? For the most part, I feel like Bea has almost none of her "preemie" qualities anymore. Most people who meet her for the first time are astounded to find out how she began life. Sometimes, just occasionally, I can let myself think that Bea is a "normal" kid, who had a normal birth and that's because it's so hard, even for me some days to believe that she started out like this:

But then something happens, in this case asking about her baby days, and BAM! I'm right back to the beginning, and all I can think about is just how very tiny she was. That the first few days of her life, we didn't know whether to cry from the excitement of being new parents or from sadness and overwhelming worry of having that new baby be so fragile. It's in these times that I remember, too vividly, how she fit into my hands like a newborn puppy:

Bea thinks that the new babies we've recently met are all just so "teeny tiny" but someday she'll understand what teeny tiny really means in this family. Until then, I'm happy to shield her from it all and to let her think that her baby dolls are as small as they get (many of whom are bigger than she was when she came home from the NICU).


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