You might remember that my nephew was a preemie, just like PJ. He was a few days “older,” at 32 weeks and a few days, and about eight ounces heavier. Like PJ, he encountered no problems in the NICU and was released on a monitor and other medications after just a few weeks.
We got to see him when he was about four months old, two months adjusted. At the time, M and I were both very worried. We didn’t expect him to be a “normal” four-month old, like Scooter had been. We expected him to be more like PJ was at four months; that seemed like a reasonable comparison to us.
He wasn’t like PJ was at that age. He was more like a weak newborn. He could barely lift his head, and he kept it cocked to the left almost all the time. His smiles resembled gas smiles and weren’t in response to any outside stimuli.
His parents weren’t worried. Their doctor (the same family doctor who let her preeclampsia go undiagnosed for months, the preeclampsia that almost killed her and her baby) said he was fine, so they believed him. His grandparents (my in-laws) said that he used to hold his head up and smile just fine, so they weren’t worried either.
M and I were worried. M even “happened” to mention how we wished we had contacted ECI much earlier than we did and how that might have kept PJ’s speech problems from getting as bad as they did. Hint, hint. Call them NOW, even if it’s just to get extra reassurance from a different source that your child is doing fine. Or to get him the help that he so desperately needs.
They never called ECI. While we’ve been worried about our nephew ever since, we are not his parents and have no control here. We’ve said our piece based on our own experiences, and they can learn from our experience or learn the hard way from their own.
That boy is now ten months old. His smiles are contagious and definitely social smiles now. He holds his head up just fine–most of the time. Any time he starts to get tired or lazy, it droops to the left again. His parents even commented about that being a problem when he takes a bottle.
Other than the head thing, though, he seems to be about where I would expect an eight-month-old to be (adjusting for his preemie age). He weighs what an average ten-month-old would (formula-fed baby for sure) and is starting to move around on his own. PJ was army crawling about the same age, so not being able to crawl more normally doesn’t worry me. He will catch up there. He doesn’t seem to have very good control over his muscles, but you can tell he’s trying really hard anyway.
M and I talked about our nephew a lot after seeing him so much last week, and we’re both still kind of uneasy about his development. While we can’t really put our finger on it, something just seems kind of off. Maybe it’s the head droop thing, or the muscle control thing. Or maybe we’re just used to a normal baby now with Scooter.
Either way, he is a joy just as he is. He’s definitely a lovable child. M and I know without even talking about it that we won’t mention our concerns to his parents again. He’ll either outgrow the weird issues and make M and me feel silly for ever worrying, or his parents or doctor will notice them as they become more pronounced and do something to remedy them at that point.
And while it bugs me sometimes that they view their own miracle child as the only one who has ever been through this, forgetting how fragile PJ was at one time, it proves to me just how much of a miracle PJ is that they can’t even see the preemie in that lively three-year-old he has grown into.