N · Parenting · Prematurity

“How old is he..?”

“How old is he?” “How old is your baby?” “He’s lovely – how old?”

The very first question that seems to be asked in any parent and baby group, without exception. At least, so far, perhaps because he looks so young still. 

Well…it’s complicated, I think. 

He’s three and a half months. 

But I can’t say that alone, or they stare in confusion at my tiny newborn-looking infant.

He’s one month…Corrected, I silently add.

That answer alone is ok for the stranger in the supermarket. But if I’m hoping to make friends with these women, or even just see them more than once at this group, it’s bound to come out later. Plus, it erases two and a half months of motherhood: all the time in hospital, nights spent expressing instead of breastfeeding, the panicked early labour, my son’s fight to breathe and grow and feed when he should have still been tucked up inside my womb. 

He’s three and a half months, but he was born early which is why he’s so small…

Fine. True. But now, a half an hour conversation about prematurity and hospitals and how he’s doing now and feeding tubes and incubators – often accompanied by horrified looks…which is sometimes fine. I’m so proud of N and what he’s overcome. More quietly, I’m also proud of V and myself – we got through it! We’ve come out the other side – luckily, fairly intact – and I think we’re doing ok at this parenting thing. But…maybe I didn’t feel like that conversation today. Maybe I just wanted to talk about interrupted sleep and maternity leave and breastfeeding. 

“How old is he..?”


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