15 months complete as a first time Mom

So I’ve made it through the first 15 months as a first time mom, but life as I knew it has really changed.  Before my son, my husband and I were both employed and enjoyed Champagne and cheese Sundays, dinner with friends, belonged to wine clubs, travelled whenever we wanted, went to the bathroom in private, and now… that seems like a dream ago.  Albeit I’m in a beautiful dream now, one with not much travelling, less sleep and definitely less alcohol… and more poop but still an amazing dream.

I’ve survived 64 days in the NICU, my first Christmas as a mother watching my son on a ventilator not breathing on his own at all with a virus they could not identify, bilateral hernia surgery, diagnosis of a rare brain malformation with only 40-50 documented cases worldwide and being laid off (which is a story upon itself).   Since being laid off, I’ve lost 26lbs, taking me ALMOST back to where I was before I started all the hormone drugs for IVF and learning that I do in fact enjoy being a stay at home mom, although where did all that free time go that I thought stay at home moms had?

Somethings I’ve learned over the past 15 months.  When you bring home a preemie, you must grow really thick skin and be prepared for family/friends to look at you strangely when you require them to wash their hands before even thinking about touching your child.  People will ask why your baby is:  1.  small  2.  skinny  3.  why they aren’t rolling/sitting up/walking like “so and so’s baby” who is the same age , and many other questions that I at the time considered thoughtless, but have realized that I didn’t know squat about preemies before and may have asked some of the same questions… still more tactfully, but somewhere along the same lines.  So I learned to take a breath before answering many of them.  Unless it was someone I didn’t know and would try to think of a quick yet witty reply and leave them guessing.  And I really am happy that my friends with termies are doing so well, and even the other preemies, I love watching their children excel.  Am I ever jealous?  I’d be lying if I said no, but not very often, and not very long, when that extremely happy little blonde hair, blue eyed son of mine Army crawls over and starts using sign language, I smile and know we’ll be just fine.

I learned that even preemies advance at different rates, regardless of how early they arrived or what they’ve been through.  Some catch up so quickly, and others weigh the same at the age of 2 as my now 16 month old.  There is no manual, you can hope for the best, but be prepared for whatever lfie throws at you.  The crying at the drop of a hat (me, not my son) or for a REALLY stupid commercial?   Where did that come from and can it please go away.  I hate that I cry so easy now and that my thought process on so many things has completely changed. 

We used to get together with friends for dinner, have a couple bottles of wine, hang out chatting until the wee hours.  Now, dinner is promptly at 5, maybe a glass of wine, and everyone is gone by6:30 to make bath and bedtimes.  Meeting with friends for coffee with the kids means blurting out a few lines when your not chasing around your little one or concentrating on getting the food in their mouths, and why is it that a gathering of adults with children can’t go an hour without “poop” being brought up?

Speaking of poop… if you’re going to buy a diaper pail, don’t research on which one will smell less… you’re filling them with nasty, rainbow colored poop, and lots of it.  It’s going to stink, there is nothing you can do about it.  Buy Lysol and try to make it tolerable.  I did purchase one that I was able to use normal kitchen garbage bags in, which made it a little more affordable in the long run.  And at night, put your little one in a size bigger diaper so they won’t pee out, a tip learned over a dinner with other parents.

How do you socialize a child when you’re being a hermit?  You find other preemie hermits that are as anal as you and have monthly play dates!  If you don’t know any, get on some local social blogs and try and find them, because they are craving adult interaction the same as you and who better to hang out with?  You know they won’t leave their cave with a sick baby!  Check to see if you have a local CityMommy site or even check out Baby Center’s Preemie Parenting Board… and there is always the It’s a Preemie Thing FB page!

Be adventurous with food… Spencer will eat anything and everything we give to him but I did wait longer to give him solids as I was scared that he would choke.  Who am I fooling, I’m scared of everything!  What if I give him something like a strawberry and he is allergic and his windpipe swells up and he stops breathing and dies?  What if I don’t cut that hot dog up into small enough bites, it becomes lodged in his throat, he can’t breath and dies?  The list of “what if’s” in my world are so long it’s ridiculous.  And then I started thinking…when was the last time I saw on the news or read in the paper “Parent kills child with hot dog” or something to that affect.  So I watched carefully, after all, I had taken the infant CPR class at the NICU!  So far we’re good, and he now likes tortilla chips with salsa (man I hope he’s not allergic to tomatoes).

Then we get to add in all the “Preemie” factors.  What is truly preemie related, what is related to his rare brain malformation and absent septum pellucidum… is that what causes his cross eyes?  Oh wait…look in the mirror and remove your glasses…maybe that’s just from mom.   When are we able to stop guessing on what causes it and realize that everyone is different, does things in their own time and their own way.  Because I’m really getting tired of feeling guilty about everything.

There are times I sit down and just think, I’m exhausted…no matter how much my husband is helping, he doesn’t do enough…I do EVERYTHING.  Then he tells me he feels the same way and that I don’t do enough, then we laugh, have 1 glass of wine, because that’s about my limit these days, and try to figure out how single parents do this.    I can’t imagine and have the utmost respect for single parents because this is hard work and when do they get a break?

Oh yeah…my vocabulary.  I’m trying my hardest to swap some of my old phrases out for new ones.  I’m working really hard at saying “SUGAR” or “Fruit cake” or anything other than some of the other things that slip out of my mouth, especially while driving.  I’d really hate Spencer’s first full sentence to be “What a Jackass!”  That would not be ideal.

I could go on, but for the most part, I am truly loving being a first time mom, I launched my own company, blog, line of onesies and daily think I’ve lost my mind.  I don’t remember anything, if I’ve already done it, or am making things up or where I put things.  I have friends 12 years my junior with kids that I’m trying to keep up with and sometimes think I’m insane…and other days, I think of that little frozen egg we’re paying storage on, and if I should try one last time. I mean come on, I’m only going to be 43 next month, I have time.  And then I stop, smile and realize, I’ve made it 15 months as a mom…what day is it and where are my keys?

Spencer and a buddy meet for coffee

About the Author: Julie of IAPT Howard

6 Comments + Add Comment

  • Congrats on Spencer turning 15 months old and congrats to you mama for going through what you had to go through. I can totally relate about people saying things about baby development–even my own mother who would say things. But she’s stopped since I brought my DD and my mom to see a series of docs and we talked to one of the development doctors and she finally got that yes, my DD is 10 months old, but developmentally, she’s really 8 months. Love your blog and your site! 🙂

  • I adore this post. Next week I’ll have made it 4 months as a first time mom – and to a preemie. Its sooo good to see I’m not the only crazy when when I think of all these things!

    Thank you so much for starting all of this – it has been such a happy place for me. I can come here and finally go “we are doing okay, we aren’t THAT weird”

    Congrats on your 15 months =) Here is to MANY more!

  • Congrats! I love this post as it reflects so many of the feelings I’ve had for the past 7 months. When is the guilt ever going to go away?!?! There are still nights I find myself sobbing because I “just know” that the fact I wasn’t able to hold my son right when he was born is going to cause some ridiculous attachment disorder when he is older! Then I wipe my tears, go watch him sleeping in his crib and thank God for the blessings we have had with him. One thing is certain…preemie parents don’t take anything for granted! Continued blessings for your little one and thanks for starting a forum for all of us to share!

  • Julie,

    We just spoke a little while ago and then I clicked on your site and read this post. I’m a little weepy now because you expressed so much that I’ve been feeling the last 16 months. It has been such an emotional rollercoaster. It’s been a lot of work and there are so many great, great days and there’s a day where the slightest thing can trigger tears and I am full of embarrassment because I can’t explain it. Thank you for saying it all out loud so all of us who’ve shared your experience can know we are not alone. Your blog is like therapy! Thanks for connecting us all. Hugs from the East Coast.


  • Wow, I literally have the chills reading this. My daughter will be 1 on July 2nd. She is my second child, my first was a termie. And it is insane what a difference having a preemie is. I go crazy because I am a preemie hermit! I get so mad at my husband because he gets to go to work, lol. It’s everything you said, the guilt, the tears over “nothing”, and hearing how all my friends babies are crawling! (all born after my daughter) She just learned last week how to sit up by herself and I’m so proud, then I hear “really she’s just now sitting up!” I too thank you for posting this blog because now I don’t feel so alone! Thank you!

  • I loved reading this! It is nice to know that others feel the same way I do! The challenges we face as parents of preemies, seems to only be appreciated by other preemie families. I am a young (20), first-time, single mom to a gorgeous preemie girl. She is my world but it is a struggle. With doctors appointments, therapy appointments (PT and OT for the LO), and just day to day care of a tiny girl is rough. Rhyan is 12 weeks old and I just got my first smile =) Congrats on Spencer and making it through all that you did!

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