Meet Kaleena, Preemie Parent Mentor
My preemie(s) was born at: 24 weeks
Days spent in the NICU: 5 months
Current age of preemie(s): almost 3
Parent of Multiples: No
Our NICU Journey included: NEC, Hydro, ROP, first child and prematurity, Surgeries, Cerebral Palsy, Delays and Life After the NICU.
As a mom to a micropreemie, I have watched my son overcoming many of the issues faced by babies born too soon. Our family’s journey has included a PDA, lung disease (BPD), ROP and both the laser and invasive surgeries, NEC, hydrocephalus (Grade 3 on both sides), and now Cerebral Palsy. The pain and loneliness were always present, but what stood out the most was the love that constantly surrounded me. My son Jharid is loved – I think even more than he might otherwise be because people are so proud of him.
But even so, if it had not been for the support of communities like Graham’s Foundation I might still be stuck in sadness. Like many moms of preemies, I felt like I had failed. I want to be a resource to parents of preemies, especially moms, so that they know all of the feelings they are feeling are okay. That prematurity happens and it’s no one’s fault. Miracles happen. And more importantly, there is life after.
I am available to speak about any of the developmental challenges that come with premature birth, but I’d also love to talk to parents who are struggling about the healing power of writing. Your prematurity story is your power, and there are so many lessons our children teach us that can change the world.
Developmental Challenges in Preemies
Premature infants and children are more likely to experience developmental challenges than those born at full term. While many preemies do “catch up” a few years after birth, short- and long-term challenges related to premature birth are common. This can be distressing in a parenting culture preoccupied with tracking milestones and what is normal at any given age. Parents of preemies often have to find a new normal that accepts delays and physical, intellectual, and emotional challenges and celebrates the individual instead.