The Difference Between a Preemie and a Full Term Baby

26 Jan

Henry slept four and a half hours straight last night. When he woke at 2:00 a.m. to eat, I was pretty much ready to start my day. It felt like a full eight hours.

As he finished eating, he fell into a really deep sleep. The kind where his head barely stays on my shoulder, mouth hangs open and his hands are limp by his side. I cuddled him for a few more minutes before re-swaddling and placing him back in his crib. Then I laid back down, listened to his breathing and ZZZzzz.

This process and lack of sleep seemed so hard with my first born, but today it’s something I no longer take for granted.

I don’t think people realize just HOW early Abby was when she was born. She came on November 9th. The BEGINNING of November. Before Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and Valentine’s Day. She was due on February 23. The END of February.

When a baby is born that early, so much takes place inside of an incubator. Advances in modern medicine have saved so many babies that would have died even 10 years ago.

It’s sobering to think that might have been Abby.

But miraculous or not, prematurity is an unnatural process. Mothers and babies belong together. Having a preemie is really the worst of both worlds because:

  • You’re a mother that hasn’t reached her due date, but you don’t get to continue feeling those kicks, looking forward to check ups and watching your waist expand. Because you’re not pregnant anymore.
  • You’ve become a new mom, but you don’t get to have those still, quiet nights where you feel the bond between you and your baby grow. You look in on your baby. An outsider watching others do what you’re supposed to do but can’t.

Abby was born 16 weeks early on November 9, 2012 and Henry was born full term on November 11, 2016. It’s been pretty eye opening to compare them because essentially they match the same timeline.

My TimeHop app serves as a constant reminder of what things looked in the NICU. For example, this is Abby (left) and Henry (right) taken at the same age four years apart this week:

Image-1Same sweet eyes and cute nose, yes, but the differences are easy to spot.

Abby was 3 lbs, 13 ounces here and still having a hard time regulating her body temperature. If she was out of her “house,” she had to be kept warm. She was a cute Eskimo though. Oh, those sweet eyes.

The difference in size is easy to see. Abby was working very hard to get her body fat. Henry has all his body fat and then some. He’s probably close to 10 pounds heavier than Abby was.

She was nowhere near ready for smiles and coos like Henry is right now. Her brain still needed quiet, dark, calm like the womb. I mean technically, at this same point, she still was not even “born” yet…even though she’d been around almost three months by this time.

Looking at Abby and Henry, it really is unfair to compare them. I never would have understood how vast the difference a preemie vs. a full term baby was had I not been through this process myself.

Truly amazing.

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