Many preemie parents that I talk to have a hard time thinking, talking, or writing about their preemie’s birth experience and time in the NICU. Unlike healthy pregnancies, a preemie birth is far from a joyous, happy experience. Instead it is filled with fear, sadness and missed opportunities. Although it wasn’t the perfect experience, I feel that it is important (perhaps essential) to document the experience. Think of what it will mean to your kids as they get older. Whether you scrapbooking, blog or simply write in a notebook, capturing this experience can be a wonderful way to remember those beginning moments in your preemie’s life.
Ali Edwards has been a huge inspiration for me over the years. She has always made a point to focus on documenting the story. Using words and photos you can remember the memories of your little ones start in the world. She did a great series on using words and photos that I think is fantastic.
I think sometimes part of the problem that preemie parents have is that as they tell the story, the emotion of the whole experience comes flooding in. Most of us can quickly dissolve into a puddle of tears as we remember how we felt and what our babies went through. And that’s okay. I think that if you can concentrate on small parts of the story than you can really capture the whole experience. And hopefully by isolating specific moments, you won’t be so overwhelmed.
I have created 20 questions that I think will give any preemie parent a chance to write down and record their preemie’s experience and hopefully get through it. They might even help you remember things that you forget when faced with the whole experience. You can use the questions to write about their birth, the NICU experience, first year or all of them. In the next few days I will post my answers to the questions.
So take a deep breath. Dive in. Remember the moments. Enjoy the process.
- What are the facts?
a. Weight/height/gestation info.
b. Birth info – why did you have to deliver early?
- What are some of the firsts you remember most?
a. First seeing him/her
b. Holding him/her for the first time
c. First bath
d. First time on room air
e. Feeding – first time breastfeeding, first time with a bottle, full feeds
- Beyond your significant other, who was the first person you told about what did or was going to happen? Why?
- What was the scariest moment?
- What was the happiest moment?
- When you look back, what makes you laugh?
- What was the hardest part?
- What surprised you the most?
- Who was there? Who helped you the most?
- What are you most grateful for?
- What sounds or smells do you remember?
- If you could capture one moment in time and take a picture of it – what would it be? Why?
- What would you change about the way you did things or a decision you made?
- What have you learned from the experience?
- Have you changed from the experience?
- How did it make you a better person?
- What would you tell other people who are going through the same thing?
- Would you/could you do it again if you had to?
- How did it feel when you knew you were going to be taking your baby home?
- Five words that describe the experience