Meet Kimberly, Preemie Parent Mentor
I had a difficult pregnancy that ended when my son was born at 34 weeks. His NICU stay was short – only 8 days – but nonetheless overwhelming and a very emotional time for our family. Parents of later term preemies can struggle with their emotions and find it difficult to talk about their experiences. I had no idea how overwhelmed I actually was until we finally brought our baby home and I had a chance to reflect on my experiences. But I was lucky to have friends who’d had preemies of their own and were ready to listen to me talk through what I was feeling and then validate those feelings. Though our NICU stay was short, my friends reminded me that no matter how short your preemie’s stay is you’re never the same after that.
In my role as a Graham’s Foundation Preemie Parent Mentor, I want to support moms who are experiencing challenging pregnancies and give parents of later term preemies the same chance to voice their feelings that I had. Parents of preemies will experience a wide range of emotions and every one of those feelings is okay. I also want to help moms and dads understand the importance of self care at all stages of the prematurity journey, whether they’re expecting or they have a preemie in the NICU.
Late-term Preemie Support
Preemies born at 34 weeks or later may look like small full-term babies, but studies have shown that late term preemies have their own needs and challenges. They may be less prone to certain issues like NEC and RDS, but can still face respiratory challenges, feeding difficulties, and long-term developmental delays. Sometimes the complications later term preemies face slip under the radar at first or don’t emerge until after a preemie and their parents have made the transition home. And sometimes parents of late term preemies feel like they don’t deserve support when they may need it just as much as other moms and dads.
High Risk Pregnancy Support
Being pregnant should be something to celebrate, which makes it all the more challenging to be told that a pregnancy is high risk. High risk pregnancies and premature birth can go hand in hand, with the stress of a difficult pregnancy followed immediately by the stress of an uncertain future in the NICU and beyond. And moms with one preemie may feel added pressure to have a “perfect” pregnancy. Whatever the circumstances, women coping with a high risk pregnancy diagnosis benefit from peer support.