Those first few weeks at home were the most difficult for me as a new preemie mom. My twins were tiny and I constantly thought they would break if I picked them up too hard or put them back down too hard. They weighed much less than infants born full term, though they were larger than most preemies and the doctors were constantly telling me that preemies typically stay behind for months or years before they catch up to their peers. About three months into life with my preemies I started noticing changes.
Preemies Can Catch Up in Size
My premature son was gaining weight faster than his sister, but they were both gaining weight faster than other preemies. Soon I was mothering two average-sized infants and my thoughts of fragile preemies faded away. Weight and size are physical manifestations of age, but n premature infants they do not necessarily correlate to advances in mental development or learning speed. Some preemies, in addition to being smaller, also learn and develop more slowly than full-term infants.
Preemies Can Catch Up Developmentally
In addition to growing faster – my preemies also started learning faster than other preemies. Soon that lag we noticed in the first few months caught up to current age, but there were a couple of developments that did not quite catch up. For instance, one of my preemie twins never crawled – she moved from dragging herself on the ground to walking. The other twin did not walk until three months after his twin.
Preemies are smaller and younger than full-term infants, but that doesn’t mean they will be stuck behind their peers forever. By the time my twins started school, they were both developmentally advanced for their age so they were actually ahead of full-term infants born around the same time.