Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Last Vestiges of Preemiedom

Today we decided to scale back Paloma's early intervention services with the intention of having her yearly service evaluation also be her discharge appointment. Even though Paloma is entirely where she ought to be in terms of motor development and language -- she was only six weeks early, after all -- it's an oddly emotional decision for me. We've been seeing our occupational therapist for nearly a year, and way back when Paloma wouldn't open her little fists and was too weak to hold most toys, having an expert come see us each week was so reassuring. She got us through the months in which Paloma would scream bloody murder if you put her on her belly, and helped us teach Paloma how to roll (insofar as one teaches an infant to do anything).

When Tedd and I initially discussed ending services, we intended to go cold turkey, but when the time came to announce our decision, I felt an uncomfortable squeeze in my gut. Not because I think Paloma still needs services or that she'll backslide, but rather because having early intervention in our lives is the one remaining piece of evidence that Paloma was born early. Outside of it, she's no different from any other baby her age. Plus, it's a safety net When early intervention services end, we're on our own. In a lot of ways, it's similar to when we stopped supplementing nursing with bottles of pumped milk. We knew that she was thriving with so little coming from a bottle, but giving up those extra bottles was hard. Or when we stopped feeding every three hours on the dot. Or when we stopped going to the pediatrician every two weeks, then monthly, and finally were on the same schedule of pediatrician visits as every other baby.

In the end, we decided to go from weekly early intervention visits to monthly visits until her yearly service eval, which means we have about three more visits until we're done. And when we're done, the only thing left to show that Paloma was born early was the fact that the pediatrician measures her growth on a 34-wk female chart as opposed to the regular chart... and I suppose the fact that babies born months and months after Paloma all weigh more than she does, heh.

Isn't it funny that something as relatively benign as the end of early intervention services makes me feel so much more emotional than, say, the rapid arrival of Paloma's first birthday?


  1. It almost sounds like you're resistant because you think she won't be "special" if she's not treated like a preemie anymore. Which is silly. But I totally get.

  2. Could be. It's also her identify for most of her life thus far, short as that has been. She was one thing, now she's another... which is something that happens to all of us, but I think I've never seen it happen so profoundly in someone close to me.


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