Thursday, March 17, 2011

What NOT to ask a Preemie Mom.

I know that it really isn't that big of a deal. More like nails on a chalk board, a grinding of the brakes, or forgetting something on the table as you rush out the door to work. Unfortunately it is a conversation, that I have had so many times that I literally turn into somebody else when I am having. My cheerful assistant Kate, will demonstrate through pictures how this series of questions makes me feel.

It almost always starts out simple enough, but my stomach churns right as the words come out of their mouth. "How old is she?" Hmm, do I tell the truth (21 months), or do I tell the other truth (18 months adjusted), or do I just act like I didn't hear them? On this particular day, I was extremely unlucky. "Let me guess how old she is?" Really lady you don't want to do that. You are going to guess wrong. "I bet she is what about 14 months old, just learning how to do things."

Wrong, wrong and wrong. Geez, let me guess how old you are and I will say 89, or maybe I will say 15. Or if that doesn't offend you then I will guess your weight, height and medical history.
Oh, well simple enough. Relax they are just trying to make small talk. Now we will walk away or be done with small talk. Unfortunately most of the time depending on my answer, even if I just say 21 months. Thats when they dive into more personal questions, with a few benign insults along the way. Such as:

"Boy, she is a tiny one isn't she. How much does she weigh?"
"Is she okay, or is she sick or something?"
"Was she born premature?"

Now, my answer really do vary a bit depending on who and where we are. In the check out at Target, "She is a little cute peanut, thanks". Friend we haven't seen for long time, "She is doing great and catching up all the time." Medical office or specialist appointment, "She was born at 25 weeks, she has ROP, a resolved PDA, mostly resolved GER, minor delays and is currently on no medications."

At this point, I really am ready for the conversation to move on....
But, oh no! We most press on in our small talk. Now, even if I have attempted to not answer any questions directly. People will press on:

"How big was she at birth?"
"Was she in the hospital for a long time?"
"Do they know why you gave birth so early?"

I am squirming now, but of course only on the inside. From the outside, I calmly answer the questions with a small smile on my face. Almost as if this was the first time we've been asked them. Unfortunately the more polite I am the more people think they can pry and probe.

"What hospital was she at?" -- dreadful question since I was traveling and I then have to go into that whole portion of it.
"Could she fit into your hand?"--- ugh, she was long and skinny and I couldn't touch her for 6 weeks. And we tried not to make a show about how tiny she was because we thought she'd die at any moment.
"Are you going to have more children?"-- really, I just met you! Maybe you could buy me a drink before I tell you that one.

These are not my responses at all, just a nice simple answers from me.

But once the questions have stopped, the conversation doesn't. Now they will tell me about their insert any of the following into space (brother's sisters, stepfather's cousin, neighbor, friends distant relative) that was born as small as her and is now perfectly normal. Thank god, everything in life will be great now as long as your 6 degree of separation acquaintance of a premature child is doing great.

Again, I know people are just being people. We all try to make small talk and be supportive and friendly. Most people wouldn't even think much of any of our conversation. But, when you have this conversation over and over and over it just gets old. To have to tell total strangers about a painful, traumatic time in your life even when you just want to buy something at the supermarket just gets a bit tiresome.

I am always friendly, and maybe I should just lie. I know eventually nobody will ask us, though at almost 2 years we still get asked it at almost every outing. I just give this suggestion, next time you see us say, "That is one cute little girl, you most be so proud?" Because that is a question I will happily agree with.

Otherwise we are walking on!

1 comment:

  1. So now you demand that I buy you a drink before I pry into your personal life?! How rude of you. :)
    People are pretty insensitive and like to pry, although I choose to believe they just don't understand they are behaving like a donkey.
    The recent crisis in my life has also demonstrated people's complete and total desire to tell you a story about themself, their cousin, etc that had cancer, blah blah blah. I think they are just trying to relate, but it doesn't really make me feel any better.
    Thank God for good friends that can turn down the crazy for us. :)