Pregnancy after a preemie – what to expect

You will be excited and scared. You will try to control the uncontrollable. Your feelings will be mixed and there is nothing wrong with that. Enjoy the beauty of being pregnant again and stay strong for you and your growing family.

It starts with excitement. I was immediately happy when I found out I was expecting my second child. I was so excited I had spent the entire morning planning how I would surprise my husband with the news. It was perfect! The rest of the day and next few days to come were full of positive energy. It had been a year and a half since our first baby was born 8 weeks early. That came with 53 days in the hospital, 6 months of blood in his stool, and living the first year of his life in isolation at home due to severe immunity deficiency. But finally I felt normal. But only for a moment. Filling my thoughts with naïve first world questions, is it a girl or a boy, what will I name it,  am I showing –  but then the night came and so did the flashbacks of my previous pregnancy. I was scared. This is a normal feeling when something so traumatic has happened in your life. You may have ups and downs throughout the pregnancy, but the important part is to recognize how lucky you are to be pregnant and growing a bundle of joy! By gosh you deserve a moment of happiness.

Reaction of others. Probably the most notable part, is the reaction of others. My dear friends and family were very supportive and caring. However, you will get the odd ball who may say ‘I am surprised you went for another after all that’. I encourage you to say thank you, and perhaps put them on your acquaintance list. Honestly though, some people just don’t think when they talk. As a preemie mother graduate, you reserve the right to filter what you WANT to hear.  But do keep in mind, anyone who loves you is down right scared and is praying for you and your baby everyday.

Bedrest with a toddler. This is a tough one. The new health buzz is that bedrest hasn’t been proven to help prevent premature labour. In saying that, any preemie mother knows that is all your doctor can suggest as a last resort.  At 12 weeks I went on modified rest where I could not lift my 25 pound toddler and had to limit my standing/walking. Very difficult with a 21 month old. This will be a defining moment where you start to balance the needs of your toddler with the needs of your growing baby. Don’t feel guilty. This is short term loss for long term gain. Find strategies that work for you. For example, get a step stool so you can help your toddler get into and out of the crib. Start changing diapers on the floor. Consider early potty training. Cuddle your toddler on the couch instead of carrying him/her.  It’s amazing how quickly your toddler will adapt to the situation.

Having to ask and accept help. High risk pregnancies result in modification of your day to day activities. As mothers, we often find it difficult to accept help. You will need to ask and accept help, no matter how uncomfortable you feel. I had to watch my husband take on all my mother and wife responsibilities in the home during the last few months of my second pregnancy. Very difficult, and you can’t help but feel useless and guilty. As hard as it is, recognize you have an important role to play by protecting that growing baby and limiting your effort! Say yes to help!

Handling ongoing preemie challenges. While you are busy with being pregnant, you may find yourself still faced with ongoing challenges for your first preemie. This may be additional doctor check ups, developmental delays, etc. This is a time you must be a super mom and lean on any support your friends and family can provide you. Specifically to help you attend all the appointments for yourself and your preemie.

Efficient in your appointments. It is amazing how precise and efficient you will become in your prenatal doctor appointments. You have learned so much in your first pregnancy. You will have specific questions that deserve specific answers. If you delivered early in a previous pregnancy you must be your own advocate and get in with a high risk doctor immediately. No one will do this for you.  Sometimes you may be on waiting lists for weeks, and this simply is unacceptable. So speak up!

We do not know what the future holds, we will be strong and we will try to have the longest pregnancy we can!


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