Please don’t wish for a premature baby

I read a comment on social media from an expectant mummy. It was just a passing comment about how, at 34 weeks she was fed up and exhausted and wishing to go into labour that very day. I know that no harm was meant by this, and it was just a fleeting comment from a tired, hormonal pregnant lady. We have all been there – but it made me really, really sad.

Both my boys were born prematurely, and spent time in special care wired up to machines and tubes (you can read their birth stories here if you want to know more). I would have given anything, and I mean anything, to have kept those boys inside me for a few more weeks. To give them more time to grow, more time for those little lungs to mature, more time for them to prepare for the harsh world outside. But I had no choice, and that tears me apart. I constantly questioned myself in those early days. What did I do wrong, what caused it, what should I have done differently to give my boys a better start in life? I still question myself now.

I have never, ever had the chance to hold one of my babies straight after birth. Never had that precious first skin to skin contact, never been the first person to hold my baby, never been able to spend those very first moments drinking in every detail of your newborn. I have always had to wait until they have been wired up to the machines that would keep them alive until they were strong enough to breathe and feed themselves.  

Premature birth

I will forever feel guilty that I couldn’t carry my boys to full term. Every day. Nothing will make that go away. So yes, I know that this was a fleeting comment from an exhausted mum to be, desperate to meet her baby, but please think before you wish for these things. You hurt so many people who already carry shed loads of guilt around with them on a daily basis. Having a premature baby is no fun, it robs you of those moments you long for, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

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  1. August 13, 2014 / 7:26 pm

    Even without having had a prem baby I still find it really hard to read comments like that – I don’t think people are really thinking about what they say, its such a selfish thought, it’s not about you and how uncomfortable you are, its about the health of your unborn chid!
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  2. August 13, 2014 / 7:28 pm

    Here here, as an ‘over baker’ I have bemoaned the end stages especially with my first two but with my third I pledged to embrace every special moment. Labouring early was one of my big fears and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but Kate you did nothing wrong some babies just come early xxx
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  3. August 13, 2014 / 7:29 pm

    I’m 36 weeks pregnant at the minute and I constantly think “Oh my goodness, I am so ready for this baby to come now” but having a premature baby myself, I feel so guilty for even thinking it! I totally get what you mean. I feel like I was robbed of labour, holding my son straight away, changing his first ever nappy, putting him into clothes for the first time and having to spend time at home with my baby still in the hospital.
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  4. August 13, 2014 / 7:36 pm

    Hello, as a mummy to a premature baby I am 100% with you. There is nothing that can prepare you for the worry, and what ifs and guilt which comes with premature birth. Everything you said was so much like our experience. Your post made me cry and feel a little angry at the same time. Being denied of that first cuddle, skin to skin, that first kiss. I will never have this and even after 3 years it still makes me very sad. Hugs and let’s not be sad as we have beautiful, brave and very strong children who fought hard against that very difficult card they were dealt x x
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  5. August 13, 2014 / 7:40 pm

    It can be hard to see comments like that for me and my girls were both full term – but I have witnessed perm babies and know a little of how hard the reality can be.

    I understand a bit about what you mean about missing those first few moments and blissful first hold & skin to skin. I barely held Lydia before she was whipped from my arms after her birth & although James was the one to hold her for her first precious hour in the world I still know that I miss that first moments, and I was so ill afterwards the small amount of skin to skin we had was barely remembered and not a particularly peaceful experience. Although she was fine, I was not, and that robbed me of those moments too. It’s nothing compared to what you went through, but I just wanted to say I understand a little.

    Big hugs x

  6. August 13, 2014 / 7:58 pm

    All 3 of my babies spent time in nicu and it is both physically and emotionally exhausting. The hardest days were when I had to go home without my babies, seeing everything ready for them, an empty belly and knowing they are in hospital alone. It is the hardest time ever. I prayed that I could carry for longer so like you said you could have those precious moments but it wasn’t to be. However I am so thankful for the 3 beautiful and healthy children we have got and will be eternally thankful for the medical staff that got them better. You shouldn’t feel guilty xx
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  7. Tracy Nixon
    August 13, 2014 / 8:13 pm

    I have had 6 babies – all prems! First came at 34 weeks and spend 1 night in the SCBU, next came my triplets at 27 weeks – lost 1 son at 2 days old and another at 5 weeks and 6 days. Our surviving triplet son survived but spent 3 months in the SCBU before we could bring him home. Next came our first daughter born at 34 1/2 weeks and spent 2 weeks in the SCBU and finally came our last daughter, born at 36 weeks and spent 1 week in the SCBU. So mine were all prems – 4 here and 2 of them now in Heaven and there is not one day goes by when I don’t miss them and wish they were here.

  8. August 13, 2014 / 8:19 pm

    Oh my goodness, thank you so much for writing this. My son Hugo had to be delivered when I was just 24 weeks’ pregnant because I had severe preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome. I’d have died and Hugo would have been stillborn otherwise. Hugo fought so, so hard but lost his fight and died in my arms aged 35 days. People often don’t really think about what they write, and I’m over-sensitive to comments such as these at the moment for obvious reasons. There are dangers for the baby related to any kind of premature birth. Mine is an extreme example, and I would have given anything for Hugo to have remained inside me for even one more week so he could have grown bigger, stronger, and have had a better chance to survive. xxx
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  9. August 13, 2014 / 8:35 pm

    I wished for my son to be born early, at around the 37 week stage. But he was nearly two weeks late and still needed help and a stint in intensive and special care. I’m glad he didn’t come early. I too missed skin to skin contact, although I did get to hold him for a bit before they realised he wasn’t breathing properly and took him straight off me. It’s the worst feeling in the world having a baby and not being able to actually see them or hold them properly. x
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  10. August 13, 2014 / 9:13 pm

    My daughter was born at 35 weeks and whilst I moaned a lot about how I hated being pregnant I never wished for her to come early. I wished for the last weeks to go fast. My waters broke at 34 weeks and labour was spontaneous as they say. She went to SCBU for 6 days but in those 6 days I missed out on so much. I was allowed to stay in hospital with her but I just felt lost like I was missing something. I wouldn’t wish for that for anyone.

  11. August 13, 2014 / 9:23 pm

    Good post – whilst you took the comment in the spirit it was said no one should wish for their baby to come early. Manydon’t think 34 weeks is early anymore -there are still many risks and long term problems associated with prematurity, even that “late” on.
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  12. August 13, 2014 / 9:50 pm

    Very true. I’m lucky in that both of my girls were more or less full term, my first arrived at 37weeks and my second was 2weeks late but I had steroid injections at 30 weeks on number 2 as the docs were convinced she would be early. It was scary and if I ever get pregnant again (I won’t) I will never wish for it to be over before I’m full term.
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  13. August 13, 2014 / 9:52 pm

    My little brother was also born prematurely & he was so poorly it was awful 🙁

    L x
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  14. August 13, 2014 / 9:59 pm

    I find it so frustrating when people beg to be induced early because they are uncomfortable! Everyone gets uncomfortable but the wait is so worth it. I went 12 days overdue with my daughter and although it was so upsetting everyday not holding my baby she obviously was not ready to come before then xx
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  15. August 13, 2014 / 10:00 pm

    Ok deep breath as I wade into this horrid subject. I know that there is nothing better for a 34week pregnancy to continue until full term in a healthy pregnancy. however as someone who has lost (miscarriage, not stillbirth), I can understand the want to hold your baby knowing that actually it may just turn out that the baby may just be better off out and in SCBU. The problem is that the risks of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth and the chances of each is a complete taboo subject. Everyone who has had an experience of this is made to feel rotten when you talk about it. This has created an ignorance even between women who have gone through these nightmares. In short we must ALL (myself included) try and take a moment and consider that sometimes things are throw away comments, but sometimes there is something else going on.

  16. August 13, 2014 / 10:11 pm

    I am fortunate that neither of my children were classed as premature although Little Man was born 16 days early. When I was in labour with him I spent the whole time saying he can’t come, it’s too early, will he be ok? WIll he be too small? As it turned out we had to transfer to hospital and spend just a few hours in special care and those few hours opened my eyes to a world I didn’t ever want to experience – There I was with my 6lb 4oz pretty healthy newborn and all around me were tiny babies. Tiny, tiny babies. three months and more premature.
    Those babies broke my heart. Those gorgeous little fighters. Their parents and families in shock and having the experiences that you have written about. I would never, ever, wish a baby to come early and when I see people moaning about ‘I can’t wait for the baby to come’ etc I just look at them and think – It’s just nine months. Nine short months. Dedicate it to your baby and get over it. Man up! Pregnancy is so short in the scheme of things and all the time a baby is inside it is safe, healthy and growing. Let’s not wish it away x

  17. August 13, 2014 / 10:30 pm

    I am currently 38 weeks pregnant and I am at the fed up uncomfortable stage but I have never wished baby to hurry up yet or tried anything to bring on labour as I am having a planned induction at 39 weeks due to my blood pressure . I have never had a premature baby but a close friend did and I know how hard it was for her. I see people on twitter all the time trying to bring on labour and saying how fed up they are of pregnancy and there nowhere near there due dates and it annoys me as I think yes pregnancy is uncomfortable but baby still needs to grow. I am feeling a bit nervous and sad I will miss the last week of pregnancy. As I think you are only pregnant for a short while and yes it’s uncomfortable and tiring but wanting your baby to arrive before they are ready is wrong as your pregnant for nine months for a reason. I’m glad both ur boys are ok but it must have been a terrible time for u all xx

  18. August 13, 2014 / 10:44 pm

    As a mother who carried #1 to 42 weeks, with undiagnosed GD, I can understand her comment – at 30 weeks people were asking me if I should be out of the house, because the baby must be due any day now. It was hard work, and the thought of another 10 weeks (12 as it turned out) was hard to deal with. #2 was born at 40+1, and the last few weeks were hard work again, and #3 was a week and a half early, and still hard work, again because of the GD in each case.

    But I also understand why such a comment is hurtful to you. All of children were born by CS (the first 2 were emergencies and the third was planned, which turned into a very complicated situation) and I wasn’t the first to hold my babies either. Only with #2 did I get cuddles almost straight away.

    I don’t suppose the mother in question was really wishing for a premature birth, just wondering how she’s make it through the next few weeks

  19. August 14, 2014 / 9:06 am

    So sad :(!
    You have nothing to feel guilty about, it was not your fault. <3
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