The Bit is three today.
I can’t believe it.
I know all parents say the time goes really fast, but at the same time, three years is a long time, and we’ve been through so much together already.
Lots of people I know — grownups and little ones alike — have birthdays right around this time. So I’ve been seeing lots of baby pictures on Facebook, pictures with beaming moms in their hospital beds, or mom and dad smiling with their new little bundle getting ready to go home.
I don’t really have any pictures like that.
Well, now that I look, there are a couple of just her with a nurse, before she was whisked off to the NICU (having been born six weeks early). Most of the hospital pictures show us in gowns and her in tubes. Not very good memories to share.
Looking back at Facebook (thanks, timeline!) it was almost a month before I posted any pictures. And the first picture of her that I ever shared anywhere was from when she was about three weeks old.
I made her that hat (here’s the pattern) mostly when she was still in the hospital. It’s custom-sized for her teeny head. Thankfully it didn’t fit long.
The girl recovered from her rough entry into the world pretty quickly, thanks to lots of love and attention form mom, and barely leaving the hose for seven months.
Now you couldn’t tell at all that she was ever small. She’s tall and strong and smart and awesome. She has tons of opinions and isn’t afraid to share them. She loves to sing and dance and jump up and down. She loves building things, reading and making art. She loves dress up and pizza and trying to pet the cats.
We did good.
Getting Ready for Baby
When I was pregnant I read just about everything I could get my hands on. Dr. Spock, What to Expect, some things I don’t even remember any more. I was so determined I was not going to freak out about anything unnecessarily that I absorbed all I could.
One thing I did miss out on, though, that’s an excellent resource made right here in Arkansas, is the Happy Birthday Baby Book. I thought it was super cheesy from the commercials and didn’t think I needed it, but the whole program has been revamped and you can order paper copies of the books — now for pregnant moms and moms of kids up to age five — or access the materials online if you need answers right away. I have a paper copy of both books if anyone needs them!
Anyway, I was totally prepared, I thought. I knew that the end of pregnancy was not that great, but I also knew that she needed to stay inside my body as long as possible for the sake of her health.
Of course my body had other ideas.
And that part I did freak out about, a little. I cried when the nurse said she needed to be delivered (because I was at 5 centimeters when I got to the hospital), and I cried a few times after that. But for the most part I tried to stay focused on what she needed to grow, get healthy and get home. (It only took a week, and that round the clock nursing help was awesome in the beginning for a new mom!)
The Crucial Last Weeks
Lots of moms these days, however, don’t seem to be of the opinion that those last weeks in the womb are really necessary. It’s uncomfortable, and the baby is big and healthy enough, right? So why not just schedule a C-section and be done with it?
But the truth is what seems like the best thing for you is not the best thing for your baby. As we learned at Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged, it’s best for women to stay pregnant until at least 39 weeks, because the baby’s brain is doing a lot of growing in those last few weeks.
The March of Dimes says that a baby’s brain at 35 weeks (I delivered at 34 weeks, five days) is just two-thirds of the weight it will be at 39 to 40 weeks (man, what a genius would my kid be with that extra time?) and that in the last six weeks the brain is adding connections needed for balance, coordination and learning.
Babies born early have more learning and behavior problems, are more likely to have feeding problems, breathing problems and are more likely to die of SIDS than kids who are delivered later.
Clearly no one is having a C-section by choice at 35 weeks, but the more moms who let nature take its course when it comes to when their baby is born, the better.
I didn’t take notes, but we heard a great talk by Amy Webb from the Department of Human Services about the huge number of Caesarean sections that were being preformed in Arkansas that were not medically necessary and how that number has dropped dramatically since doctors are being rewarded for not performing them.
I would have given my girl the chance to do as much development inside me as she could, if I’d had a vote. I hope other moms will do the same, too.
So if you’re pregnant, or know someone who is, check out the facts on development that happens in those last precious weeks, and think more than twice before you decide to have your baby early.
So ends your public service announcement for today. Hope the adorable pics of my little one helped get you through it!