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34 week premie, now home- what to expect?

(14 Posts)
Toast85 Sat 26-Sep-15 10:05:57

We've been home several days with our 34 week premie baby, gestational age 37 weeks. She's doing well and has no ongoing health/medical problems, and did well with progressing from tube feeding to breastfeeding before we came home.
My worry is around what I should be expecting of her- we were told to take her home and enjoy her and that we can think of her as a normal baby (just a bit miniature). But my experience of newborn babies (friends with children/reading about looking after newborn babies) is that they cry a lot, are hard to settle, need lots of cuddles/holding to settle etc, whereas our LO is very sleepy, settles easily after a feed and change, and only makes a little squawk and wriggles about to indicate she is ready for her next feed. We are giving her cuddles and interacting with her/talking to her etc when she's awake but I'm feeling anxious that we're not going to bond well because she's so content to just be fed, changed and go back in her crib/carrycot.
I'm aware I'm probably jumping the gun and you'll tell me she'll soon become a more wakeful baby who interacts, who screams the house down, but the reassurance would be good! I'm feeling emotional over her birth and feel the pain of her being whisked off to SCBU after the EMCS, and the initial worries that she didn't feel enough like 'my' baby (because I wasn't the one looking after her) are still lingering around, and I'm having difficulty thinking/saying certain phrases like that I 'gave birth' to her - as the EMCS was more like she was taken out of me before either of us were ready, rather than me giving birth to her at the right time. I still find it a bit hard to associate her with the baby that was inside me, because it feels like she wasn't 'mine' for that initial period after the EMCS whilst she was in an incubator etc. I'm just so desperate to get the bonding right with her that I worry we aren't spending enough time together now, but when she sleeps so much and is so content to just be put down on her own I worry we aren't bonding enough. I don't feel like I'm having problems loving her- the more time we spend together she feels like my world, especially now we are home.
Any advice/reassurance would be very welcome! Thanks.

JaggyThistleLovesArchie Sat 26-Sep-15 11:50:07

Hi, my 31 weeker is now nearly six months old and is currently having a bf. She came home at 36 weeks after 4 weeks in NICU/SCUB. She was also generally very content and sleepy when she came home. She preferred sleeping on me or DH but could be persuaded to go in her cot as well. She did become much more alert and interactive after her due date. She had always been quite a content wee person and still doesn't cry much and is easy to settle when she does. I think we have just got lucky and ended up with an easy baby - your dd may be the same.
You end up with an extended newborn period when you have a premie so it is a long wait for the first proper smiles and interaction. Dd now gives me a big grin when I get her out of her cot in the morning and beams at DH when he comes in from work. I found i was more relaxed at home in comparison to the SCUB (after a few days the fear of having dd home and no nurses nearby subsided) and felt much closer to her as a result. Enjoy lots of cuddles and I am sure you will feel much closer in no time.

FadedRed Sat 26-Sep-15 12:02:43

Congratulations on your lovely new born, Op!
From your post it sounds like you are bonding very well, the love for your baby shouts out through your perfectly normal 'WTF?' after a scary birth and neonatal time in SCBU.
I feel the majority of parents have that looking in the cot and thinking 'What the hell have I done and who is this little creature I'm now responsible for?!' moments.
It's normal for prems to be sleepy ( just as it's normal for some FT babies), it's also normal to have awake and shouty babies. You are more likely to hear about the shouty ones from their sleep deprived and frantic parents on here than the smug my baby slept between feeds and nappy changes and was going undisturbed through the night by 2 weeks <yes, I'm looking at you DCousin>
You get to enjoy your newborn at little longer than the rest of us, so try not to worry too much. flowers

AbbeyRoadCrossing Sat 26-Sep-15 18:10:23

Congratulations on your new baby
Mine was an EMCS like yours so I had similar feelings (not helped by knobbish c section comments from people but that's another thread!) and I felt a bit weird, almost confused he was my baby for a little while. But you'll get to know each other over time and that'll all come.
DS was also very sleepy until after due date. If you try and think of development from due date that really helps I think. They have so much extra brain work to do they need to sleep a lot for that. I found a good website at the time - think it cwas premature sleep site? I'll try and find it and link.
The first 4 or 5 months were smiles, waggly head for ages. I know these are minor things compared to many but once you get some response from them it helps a lot
DS is 1 now and has pretty much caught up. I wish he still slept a lot now wink

cabbageleaf Tue 29-Sep-15 12:46:02

Your DD sounds just like my DS, he was exactly the same when we got him home at 37 weeks gestational age. He fed and slept, that was it . I worried about bonding too, I'd heard so much about the importance of skin-to-skin contact straight after birth and I wondered what having had my baby whisked away to NICU immediately after he was born would mean for us. I felt like an impostor when I said to a nurse at the first checkup around his due date, "that's not at all like him! " I thought she was going to say, "and what do you know?? " makes me really sad to think of that now.
One year on and I can say the bonding has been no problem at all. You will have enough time to bond with your DD, these are just the first weeks when she is not aware of anything much besides her own needs. Making her feel well cared for is the first step to bonding with her and if that means leaving her to sleep in her cot because she sleeps well there, that's fine. A bond is built up over time, you need time to adjust to having her home - even term mums have to do that, by the way.

123xyzabc Wed 30-Sep-15 23:57:18

My baby arrived at 29 weeks and was home at 35. He was way quieter to start with than other newborns and just slept all the time - I felt just the same as you. You sound like you're doing a great job. I was also worried about bonding as it is such a different experience than other mums. Over time things feel more normal. Don't worry. One thing I did find is that around 41/42 weeks he got much harder to settle and the extra long newborn period got tough - you have to wait longer than other mums for the first smiles - but they will come. Just keep doing what you're doing and get as much sleep as you can xxx

capecath Thu 01-Oct-15 11:27:09

I am mommy to 3 boys born at 33+5, full term and 34+2. The premmies were definitely quieter and slept more at the beginner with just little cries. Felt like we hardly ever saw them with eyes open and had to wait for ever for that lovely little first smile.... Once the smiles come though they start to be a bit more interactive. Everything is just a little later, but they are usually caught up by their first birthday. It has been a very stressful time for you. I would suggest take advantage of cuddles, get some skin to skin time, even if she sleeps on you a little. Even full term babies should be awake just for short periods at the beginning. Small steps. The bonding will come... Cuddles. And it gets easier when they start smiling.

BumWad Wed 07-Oct-15 02:54:21

I have a 32 weeker, he is now 19 weeks and doing amazing! Was very sleepy at first, would have a couple of sucks at the breast then fall asleep however he is now such a happy, smiley baby that gurgles and coos and doesn't shut up! I was also worried about a screaming child as that's what people had said preemie babies end up being like but touch wood so far he is easy, self settles and sleeps well! The only hardship we had was his reflux which was awful in the first weeks we brought him home however is improving vastly already.

Enjoy your baby and them cuddles! smile

summerdreams Wed 07-Oct-15 17:53:09

Congratulations flowers my son was born at 33.5 and was home around the same time but with a feeding tube and bad weight gain issues in the beginning, now 14 months on between the 50th and 75th centile. The reason I say this is because I was scared if I over stimulated him he wouldnt sleep and grow and my biggest regret is not jhst enjoying him sleeoing on me and more cuddles I was told he could burn calories when held too much I regret it soo much as he woke up around 1 week corrected started screaming and didnt stop till about 7 months hmm I wish id made the most of them first sleepy weeks they grow so quickly try not to worry as hard as it may be and enjoy the newborn sleepyness he co sleeps now through his choice not mine

annatha Wed 07-Oct-15 18:16:48

Congratulations on your little girl, I can't imagine what it must be like to go through what you have done and I hope that being at home with her helps you. My dd was term but also very sleepy at the start, and although I knew I would do anything to protect her and care for her etc I didn't get that initial rush of love that everyone tells you about, so I think how you're feeling is totally normal. Have you tried wearing her in a sling? She could nap in a stretchy wrap or a close caboo and that might help with the bonding process while leaving you hands free.

Toast85 Sun 25-Oct-15 07:50:12

Thanks for your replies, it's good to know others have had similar experiences. She's now one week corrected and has woken up in the last week or so, starting to protest when I put her down and wanting to sleep on me instead at times. I'm feeling much more confident and settled and really am enjoying her.
It's really interesting how preemie babies behave isn't it, like they're here but not quite, until they reach full term, then they 'wake up' - I've heard that phrase used by a couple of people and it really does make sense!

RB68 Sun 25-Oct-15 08:08:26

Mine was 31 plus 5 and we came home at 33 she weighed 4lb, I had had a c section and gall bladder removal (ie two major ops with 8 weeks recovery!) thank god she was like that for a bit as was also expressing and feeding on a 3 hr schedule. It did take me a while to bond. But it is all a bit of a shock when it happens so quickly so think that is a normal experience. As long as baby is fed//changed/slept and cuddled I wouldn't worry. Mine is 10 now!!

ktmummy1 Wed 11-Nov-15 21:07:29

I can empathise. My dd was also a 34 weeker, spent 3 weeks I. Special care and was v sleepy for ages. I found it all very traumatic at the time. (I had a placental abruption so am v lucky I didn't lose her). I felt guilt, anxious etc etc but it soon went away. I found her sleepiness helpful as it meant I could rest and try to recover from the trauma. My premmie is 3 now and no different than any other 3 yr old. Full of mischief and fun. She's still on the slim side but that could just be her. You will move on from this as your daughter becomes less sleepy, gets in to a routine and starts developing. I would expect her to be a bit delayed eg my daughter was late to roll over, sit, stand etc she walked at 14/15 months...other than that though there was no other delay. Enjoy every moment, they grow up too fast xx

MiaowTheCat Fri 20-Nov-15 18:02:40

Same as you describe - became more alert after her proper due date would have passed- now 3 1/2, very ahead in her development with the exception of motor skills (I think a lot of that is her personality and not wanting to try stuff if she's not already good at it) and people assume she must have been overdue!

Never ever shuts up or stops now- she even carries on talking in her sleep!

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