How premature babies grow
– by Fiona Mylchreest
Why do premature babies grow as they do? Fiona Mylchreest, mother of five and wife of Borne Chairman, reflects on her children’s experiences.
I have grey eyes; my husband has green eyes. My sons have grey eyes and my daughters have green eyes. That’s quite nice, though a little strange as my boy-girl twins don’t even have the same eyes.
Very premature babies are hairy. The hair disappears, but early appearances are disconcerting, as there may be body hair and not hair on the head. Actually, I never saw the heads of my two most premature babies; when they are on ventilators they wear tiny knitted hats to keep their heads warm and the ventilators are tied to the strings. I remember Finn had a peach coloured hat which I loathed because it made his skin look livid, in fact like liver. My sister knitted lots and lots of pale blue hats from dollies’ knitting patterns, but we were stuck with the horrid peach for weeks.
“Why, when he was so very tiny, barely one kilo, was he growing nails instead of getting bigger?”
That’s when I started thinking, in those long hours of watching my baby sleep, that God had duffed up. Why did my baby have fingernails but yet he couldn’t digest any food, and was on one millilitre of breast-milk per hour? Why, when he was so very tiny, barely one kilo, was he growing nails instead of getting bigger? And why on earth, when he couldn’t begin to breathe for himself, did he have sweeping eyelashes? He had had steroids to develop his lungs a few hours before he was born, but nonetheless had horribly immature lungs and has chronic lung disease to this day.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Fiona Mylchreest is mother to five children, all of whom were born prematurely. She has written a number of pieces for Borne where she shares her experience and reflects on the implications and lifelong challenges caused by prematurity.