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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Comparison

It's inevitable. Every parent does it. Especially those parents who say that they don't.

As parents, we compare our children to others. We track their progress by seeing what other children are doing. We smile when our children are ahead. We worry when our children are behind. We calculate how long we have to make milestones. We don't necessarily do it to be competitive (but we all know a parent who does...) we do it to keep track, to keep on top of the next goal, the next big deal.

For preemies, the comparison game is always lose-lose. Compared to children her age, Charlotte is grossly delayed. Compared to children her adjusted age, Charlotte is generally delayed. Compared to other preemies, Charlotte is above average in some cases, below average in others. But even if she is "better" at something than another preemie, how can you be happy about it? For one thing, it doesn't necessarily mean your child is doing well, and for another, you are trying to one up a micropreemie... how pathetic is that?! (Not to mention the guilt it induces... but that's a whole 'nother post) It's easier to avoid the comparison game. But it's not always possible. A friend will have a full term baby. So will a brother or a sister or a cousin. There is always going to be a reminder of where your baby *should* be.

And it hurts. Sometimes, you are prepared for it. Sometimes you aren't. And you never really know when it will hit you. You'll see a baby breastfeeding, or a toddler walking up the stairs and you'll realize my baby will never eat normally, or my second grader still can't walk up the stairs correctly. People will make comments like, "Next year at this time, when your baby is running around everywhere," and you have to choke back the tears.

Charlotte won't be running around anywhere next year. She's eight months old, and she doesn't roll over. But that's OK. I'm fine with where Charlotte is.

It's where she isn't that hurts.

It's not a pity party. As parents of micropreemies, we are more proud of our children's accomplishments than most. We yearn for the day they finally "get it." Today, Charlotte looked at her hand and her therapist and I did a happy dance. Seriously. We danced. I told everyone. "Charlotte looked at her hand! She's starting to recognize her own body!" I'm as proud of her as I would be if she was accepted to Harvard.

But we mourn the loss of "normal." We wish these accomplishments could go unnoticed. Because we want the most for our children. So we mourn the things our children will never know. And we worry.

We worry that someday, they will compare as well.


  1. Thank you for this post. I feel the same and I have really been struggling with it.

    Your posts have been riveting this week.

  2. I totally understand. Zoe is 13 months now and we are still waiting for crawling...though she is starting to roll everywhere. Hang in there, it gets easier the longer you are out of the hospital. We had a rough 2 months after bringing Z home, but as she got bigger and stronger it got easier.