Also, we love our boys and feel so grateful to finally be parents. Even so, having two newborns in your home is hard! I'm not gonna lie.
When I thought of all the reasons I didn't want our boys to come early, I thought mostly of their health. I didn't want them to have to spend time in the NICU battling health problems or to run the risk of suffering lifelong problems due to being born prematurely.
Since they have been home, I have discovered a few other downsides to having my babies prematurely which I hadn't previously considered. I think the newborn phase is the hardest with any baby, and having preemies means that, in addition to all the other downsides, that phase lasts a lot longer.
- My firm would not allow me extra time off for FMLA leave in view of the fact that I was on medical leave for two weeks prior to delivery (even though my leave was COMPLETELY unpaid). Which meant that I had to return to work when the boys were 10 weeks old. Which, because they were nearly 6 weeks premature, meant their adjusted age when I went back to work last week was only 4 weeks.
- Trying to work full-time and take care of two 4-week-old babies in your "spare" time is really, really hard. . . much harder than taking care of two 12-week-old babies.
- It seems like our boys have been newborns FOREVER! This has more than one implication:
- My husband and I hear of some (lucky) parents whose babies are sleeping through the night, or nearly so, by 3 months of age. Whatever age our boys might've achieved that goal, we can tack an extra 6 weeks on to that number.
- Although the calendar says they are 11 weeks old, they are not yet consistently smiling. Or holding up their heads. Or tracking objects. Their pediatrician has assured us that this is normal, so we aren't worried; we just look forward to the time when they can do these things.
- Although they are no longer on a regimented, every-3-hours-around-the-clock feeding schedule, their tummies are small and they still need to eat quite frequently. They often end up eating every 3 hours during the day and cannot usually go more than 4-5 hours at night.