It has been a long time since I've taken care of a newborn. I thought I was ready to feel exhausted, but it turns out I was woefully unprepared. Timmy requires near constant feedings, which requires him to be woken up every ninety minutes. When Scott was home from work the fatigue wasn't as much of an issue because we were able to split the duty. Now that he has to get up and go to work in the morning, I am solely responsible for the nighttime feedings.
I will be delighted when Little Timmy isn't quite so tiny. I worry about his maintaining his body temperature and his eating enough to gain weight and becoming stronger. Although the doctors assure me that he is healthy, I look at his tiny little frame and can't help but worry.
We have a box of newborn diapers which currently swamp him. Robby's newborn clothes, which he only fit into for about a week, are entirely too big. I can't wait until he outgrows the preemie diapers and clothes!
I have worked with the special needs population for twenty years with the bulk of my time concentrating on infants and toddlers. I've had extensive experience talking with worried parents about their children's health and development. I know the statistics, the facts, and the right things to say. What I never knew, until now, is how it feels to have developmental concerns about your child.
Although Timmy is technically a preemie, all signs indicate that he will have no long term effects. He is small but strong and has no other adverse health issues. Even though I hear the doctor's words, I am struggling to embrace and believe that everything is okay. He is so different than Robby as an infant, but I also know that it is unfair to compare.
The doctor's reassure me that Timmy is fine, and that his developmental milestones will be adjusted for his gestational age. I smiled when I heard the explanations, not because it was humorous but because I had given the same talk hundreds of times. It is surreal hearing the same lecture from a different perspective.
As Timmy eats and grows, I fully expect him to catch up with his non-preemie peers. Hopefully soon the oh-so-small clothes will be packed up and become a memory. Although it doesn't feel like it, I even know that eventually I will sleep again, Timmy will be okay, and he will have a series of incredibly adorable baby pictures when he grows up.
I also know that the next time I meet with parents worried about their child's development, I will react differently as I have been afforded a perspective that only comes from experience. I'm grateful that these issues are fleeting, but I know that the impact will make me a better teacher. In the meantime, I think I'll just cuddle my little Timmy, reminding myself how lucky I am.