Guide to Preemie Speak
A Handy Guide to Ollie’s Life As A Micro-Preemie
• Ollie is considered a micro-preemie. His very low birthweight solidified him into that category, rather than his gestational age. Born at 28 weeks, he was the size of a 24 or 25 weeker, and weighed just over a pound and a half at birth.
• Ollie has two ages. His actual age is taken from his actual birth day. Using December 27, 2008 to today and we’re at is his Actual Age, just like a term baby.
His Adjusted Age uses his original Due Date of March 17, 2009 to gauge his age from when he should have been born and useful when determining the severity of any delays. This is his Adjusted Age. Example: on December 27, 2009, he was 12 months actual, 9 months adjusted. Typically, parents adjust the age of their preemie for two years to accommodate for developmental delays.
• Ollie demonstrates “typical micro-preemie behavior,” according to his therapists. He missed out on three months of fetal positioning and he is overcoming those challenges. For example, he has problems with Gross Motor Skills that are traced back to missing out those months of development in utero. Forced to tend with gravity too quickly, and spending time on his back instead of curled up, his muscles missed out on crucial positioning that are displayed in his Gross Motor Delays. He didn’t roll over until he was 6 months (adjusted), and is having troubles sitting unassisted.
• Ollie receives help from a program called “Birth to Three,” or Early Intervention (EI). It’s a program that helps us work through his developmental delays before they become a bigger hurdle. Currently we have an Occupational Therapist who helps with his Gross Motor Delays and will soon add a Physical Therapist to help get him strength in his lower half. His therapists visit our home once a week for an hour or so of Baby Bootcamp.
• Things that Ollie overcame:
- IUGR (IntraUterine Growth Retardation) — He stopped growing about 4 weeks before he was born
- Ollie was on a ventilator for 10 days at birth. First a traditional vent, then up to the higher powered Oscillating Ventilator that made him vibrate. Weaned back to the traditional vent, then to CPAP, then breathing on his own by his 9th day.
- Acidosis — Too much acid in his blood at birth
- Low Blood Pressure at birth
- Underdeveloped lungs, leading to low oxygen levels. He was on supplemental oxygen for 8 months to help keep his numbers up
- Jaundice – spending a couple days under the bili-lights getting his sun-tan.
- Bilateral Inguinal Hernias – he had surgery to fix these at 18 weeks (actual) 6 weeks (adjusted)
- ROP (Retinopathy of Prematurity), an eye issue that can leave preemies blind. Ollie’s progressed to Stage One (the worst is Stage Four) and then started resolving on its own
- A few blood transfusions
- Apnea of Prematurity & Bradycardia — He would forget to breathe for a bit (Apnea). It would bring his heart rate down (bradycardia) and we’d have to stimulate him to “wake him up.” This is a pretty common hurdle for preemies to grow out of, since they’re not supposed to be breathing for weeks yet
Why was Ollie born so early? Thankfully, it wasn’t a spontaneous event that happened for no reason. After lots of blood tests, we found out that I have a clotting disorder, Factor V Leiden, that essentially clotted his placenta to useless, stopping his growth in utero for some time. Because we lost all the doors for all my pregnancy nutrients and such, on his birthday, I had dangerously high blood pressure and it was decided that it was safer for him outside my body than it was inside.
I say “thankfully,” because in future pregnancies, there are precautions to take to prevent such a premature birth. While I may not ever go the full 40 weeks, with blood thinners daily, a 28-week birth is less likely to happen.