Each parent will have their own unique experience of living with a premature baby. Some babies will go home on oxygen, need continuous special care and some will be re-admitted to hospital quite a few times in the first year of life because they are very septile to colds, flu and infections.
We have been very lucky with our journey since our son Ronan came home. Ronan was born at 27 weeks gestation and after spending over 3 months in hospital we were overjoyed when we were able to bring him home with us. Within the first month we had endless appointments lined up with a paediatrician, respitory specialist, Maternal Child & Health Nurse, HITH (Hospital In The Home) which is a program for very premature babies leaving hospital and are put onto when they leave special care. A nurse comes around to your home each day for a week or until they feel you as a parent is comfortable with looking after your baby. When you take your baby home it is a very different experience than having a full term baby as you have a lot of follow up care.
As the months go by and your child is growing you continue to have follow up care with hearing appointments, eye sight tests, paediatrician & other appointments depending on how your child is developing. My son is behind with his milestones so he is now having physio once a fortnight as recommended through the paediatrician. We have daily exercises we work on to help strengthen Ronan’s muscles which in the long run will help with his milestones of sitting, walking, crawling.
The biggest fear of having your premature baby at home is the fear of them stopping to breath. When you have an extreme prem it is likely that they are on oxygen for a long time whilst in hospital. When suddenly there is no oxygen, no monitors attached to them, you have no idea how their oxygen levels are or heart rate it is so it can be very daunting for some parents when you start to rely on them like the medical staff. Whilst you keep reminding yourself that they would not be discharged to go home if they were not physically capable to be off the machines. It is very hard to adjust to this new world of no more machines and takes quite a while to adjust to your own intuition. We found that the best way to help combat this fear was to buy a sound and movement monitor. It let us rest at night without the fear of waking to see our son not breathing. A lot of hospitals recommend that parents of prem babies purchase these.
Whilst there are many thoughts and fears when having your premature baby at home there are some beautiful moments that you will cherish forever. Watching them grow and thrive whilst at home is amazing. They adapt so easily and you fall more in love with them each passing day. Living with a premature baby can be very rewarding also. When you remember how fragile their life was when they were born to how much they have developed into a little person it really is an inspiring experience.