If you’re like me, one of the hardest questions you get about your baby is, “how old is he?”
I always hesitate to, internally, consider how much or how little detail I want / have time to give.
If I say Owen’s actual age, my heart will sink a little, when the questioner says, “oh… he’s so tiny” or worse, just says, “oh” as they stare with a look on their face that clearly says, “what’s wrong with him?”
By giving the corrected age, the response is often more accepting, however, I feel a twinge of guilt, like maybe I lied a little.
The other alternative, is what I’ve mostly done – give both answers, “he’s almost 18 months old, but he was more than 15 weeks early, so he’s medically considered a 14 month old”. By answering both actual and corrected, I preempt the look of shock and horror if I tell them the actual age and it sometimes leads to great discussions. But it also, sometimes leads to pity.
In the past weeks, I’ve given a lot of thought to how I want to represent Owen and I’ve started to simply say his actual age.
The fact is, Owen’s delayed and petite for a 14 month old or an 18 month old, so either answer is likely to get questions or looks. At the same time, I don’t want to marginalize his life or all that he’s been through by saying the corrected age. He was born in April, not August and he did some really amazing things in those 107 days. Most importantly, the reason that I’ve decided that I don’t want to give both answers anymore is that Owen’s going to hit an age that he understands these discussions. I don’t want him to feel like he needs to be explained because of his limitations.
I’m more than happy to share our story and want to lend my voice to premature birth awareness, but it’s not an excuse for where Owen is today. There’s nothing to be excused or pitied. Just by being here, Owen is defying odds and expectations. I refuse to diminish those accomplishments by putting an asterisks by his birth date.
My approach to answering the birthday question has evolved and, I’m sure, will continue to evolve, which is why I’m interested in how other preemie parents choose to answer the most dreaded preemie question.
© Copyright Tatum, All rights Reserved. Written For: Ain't No Roller Coaster