Vulnerability and Preemie Parenthood

Now I feel better because he's growing and he's getting tougher, and now I've seen him get sick a couple times this winter with a bad cold or a stomach virus and it hasn't affected him too badly. Like her reacted as a regular child. He's grown enough to cope with all sorts of germs, and he's ready to go out into the world. ~~Gallice

Riley had an apnea monitor at home for nine months. Even after she passed her home apnea test, I was scared to death to give it up. I didn't call the monitor people to collect it because it was reassuring, peace of mind, that is she stopped breathing, the monitor would go off. So that first night after she passed that test, she goes to bed, and I left the leads on because she still had the monitor and we were still gonna use it until I was comfortable with her not using it. .. In the middle of the night, I hear beep beep beep beep, and I look at her, and she's got the leads in her hand, all three of them. And I think, all right, she's telling me something. She knows that she doesn't need these any longer. She must know that she's okay, and I've got to -- as much as it's against everything I believe in -- I've got to trust her natural instinct in this. So I did. And I don't know if she ever stopped breathing in the night. That night I was up a thousand times, looking, listening. But it was a sign when she took those leads off. ~~Pam

Excerpted from Parenting Your Premature Baby and Child: The Emotional Journey, by Deborah L. Davis, Ph.D. and Mara Tesler Stein, Psy.D. (Fulcrum, 2004), pages 457-462.

Deborah L. Davis, Ph.D. & Mara Tesler Stein, Psy.D. are the authors of Parenting Your Premature Baby and Child: The Emotional Journey, a 2004 National Parenting Publications Awards "Gold Award" winner. They also collaborated on Parent: You and Your Baby in the NICU (2002), as part of the nationwide March of Dimes NICU Project. They've been invited to regularly contribute to Advances in Neonatal Care, a neonatal nursing journal; their first article appears in Spring 2005. They are the founding members of Partners in Perinatal and Pediatric Consulting, which promotes developmentally supportive care for babies and parents, as well as collaboration between families and health care professionals.

Dr. Stein is a clinical psychologist in private practice, specializing in the emotional aspects of coping with crisis and adjustment around pregnancy and parenting. She is regularly invited to lecture and give workshops on these issues throughout the country to conferences of physician and nursing groups, doulas, and lactation consultants. Since 1997, she has been consulting with organizations and providing training to health care providers, guiding their efforts to improve the level of psychological support and developmentally supportive care to families during and subsequent to perinatal crisis.

Dr. Davis is a developmental psychologist, researcher, and writer who specializes in perinatal and neonatal crisis, medical ethics, parental bereavement, parent education, and child development. Dr. Davis is the author of four books for bereaved parents, Empty Cradle, Broken Heart (Fulcrum, 1991; 1996), Loving and Letting Go (Centering, 1993; 2002), Fly Away Home (Centering, 2000) and Stillbirth, Yet Still Born (PILC, 2000). She is also on the Board of the Pregnancy Loss and Infant Death Alliance (PLIDA.org) and is regularly invited to write articles for professional periodicals and parent support materials.

Copyright © Deborah Davis & Mara Stein. Permission to publish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.