Meet Jennifer, Preemie Parent Mentor
My preemie(s) was born at: 25 weeks
Days spent in the NICU: 128
Current age of preemie(s):
Parent of Multiples: No
Our NICU Journey included: ROP, severe GERD, silent aspiration, g-tube placement, fundoplication, hearing loss, and bilateral cochlear implants.
What I remember most about our time in the NICU and afterwards is that I would not have survived this experience without the nurses, nurse practitioners, and neonatologists. They were very patient with me and all my questions. I was very naive when my son was born, and I was not expecting anything like we went through. I honestly didn’t think things like our experience existed! I remember one nurse told me, “This is like a rollercoaster with so many ups and downs.” But in my opinion rollercoaster didn’t accurately describe our day to day journey. I felt as though we were perched on a cliff in a chasm and one day we would climb up to a ledge and be able to see the top, then next thing I knew we would fall back down, ledge after ledge after ledge. Then we’d climb back up and get a glimpse of a world outside this chasm we’d been in for so long. It may seem negative but the reality is you never know what each day will bring in the NICU. Every preemie has a different experience and every parent handles these hurdles differently. I personally didn’t have an outlet for my emotions. There was no Facebook then, and social media was in its infancy. My husband and I had each other to rely on. Our family supported us as much as we let them. But in my mind, they didn’t know what we were going through and they would never know the pain and suffering we were experiencing.
As a Parent Mentor, I want to be there to listen and to talk, but most of all I want to be a voice of encouragement telling new preemie parents to make use of every resource they can. My own journey was a long, hard, happy, exciting, and sometimes sad road, and I want to share those experiences – if my story can help one family make it through the hard times, then it was worth it. I can show new parents there is a light at the end of the tunnel. After we brought my son home from the NICU I started classes to enter my nursing career, and after 5 years I graduated from nursing school. My first job? Was in the NICU where my son was born.
Feeding Issues in Preemies
Premature infants and children are more likely to encounter difficulties with feeding and growing than those born at term. From a diagnosis of failure to thrive to suck-swallow-breath coordination to coaxing an unwilling toddler to embrace solids, prematurity makes what should be simple-eating-into a challenge. Parents of preemies may have to navigate a confusing world of feeding tubes, specialty equipment, and therapies just to help their children.
The resources on this page offer parents of preemies with feeding challenges places to find not only support from moms and dads who’ve been there, but also supplies and suggestions for ways to make mealtime a happier time.