About that Preemie Life

My Preemie Baby born 3 months early

Born at 2lbs – with a brain bleed (intraventricular brain hemorrhage stages III and IV), but he’s 5 now and thriving. My skinny, active and goofy boy is thriving. Other than being underweight – he is doing well in a rigorous Kindergarten class and is leaving Lego for me to step on like kiddos do. I can finally exhale…  I can work on regulating my sleep again. Of course, there’s always going to be a certain level of ‘mom worry’ that will forever loom no matter what, but my son is no longer seeing a team of 5 physicians and 2 clinicians to ensure that he’s on track.

He’s no longer catching every little sickness at every turn. Now, a runny nose can be just that and doesn’t turn into a 14 day cold with weight loss and sleepless nights. A runny nose is just that – a runny nose. Oddly enough, remembering the tough times is becoming harder, but I’m not sure how we did it. Preemie parents. Juggling work, grad school, and afternoons and evenings in the hospital. Seeing your tiny baby poked, prodded – eyes horrifically pried open with metal devices for thorough inspection to prevent ROP-induced blindness (Stevie Wonder was a preemie too – undetected ROP caused his blindness). Seeing them choke because they have to master swallowing and breathing simultaneously. Missing out on most events because your baby is regaining his strength from being ill for so long.

He’s healthy and the light of my life!

And the Wall Comes Tumbling Down

Relationships crumble. Self esteem dwindles. Lots of tears. Hits to career development. I let the Preemie Life define me for so long. I didn’t have a choice really. I lost myself in it all. It took me quite a while to remember what I even liked to do. It was all around caring for my son, and it became a bit of a prison. I used to enjoy being fashionable and doing my hair. That turned into wearing old marathon and alumni t-shirts with baseball caps. I didn’t recognize myself, and I was glad my son was well, but I was sad. Very sad. I hadn’t taken time to do much for me. Even the grad school studies and change in career was mainly for my son. I had forgotten what fun meant for Aryeonne. Come to think of it, I needed counseling and a support group postpartum.  Read here for support info for preemie parents: https://grahamsfoundation.org/

Journey To Find Myself Again

Transitioning back to myself took a couple of years. I was frightened, mainly because many of the people in my industry were younger and children/parenting wasn’t a part of their existences yet. When I started back working, I kept to myself. No one knew my age or that I was a parent. This is a reminder to those who have their own preemie story or any traumatic event that causes you to lose yourself, that it’s okay to ask for help. Don’t be ashamed to ask someone to take on your responsibility for a bit so you can watch your favorite show or listen to an audiobook until you fall asleep. Self care/love is underrated. If it doesn’t happen, you will undo all that you’ve worked for with deteriorating health and broken relationships.

Annnnnd I’m back!

It took me far too long to realize this, but better late than never, right? I’ve since begun to exercise, track my calories, meal plan, found a job that resonates with my beliefs, found a new tribe and reconnected with my old one, found a new love and started this blog. If I can do it, you can too. We all need to be reminded that it’s not selfish, especially those of us who still carry the guilt from that Preemie Life, here are integral steps/ways to begin your self-love journey: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/get-hardy/201203/seven-step-prescription-self-love

Be sure to read about my childbirth experience here: https://amotherthingcoming.com/2019/04/04/my-birth-story-hellps/

We support March of Dimes. Join our team – march and/or donate: https://www.marchforbabies.org/sollylevi

Written by Aryeonne Johnson