On Premature Birth


Jude weighed under 2 pounds when she was born (well under a kg for everyone outside the USA). She was 2 when I met her and 2.5 when I brought her home. The premature birth was all but a moot point by toddlerhood.

Notice the “but”

When I met Jude, she had pneumonia. This past June on the way back from visiting Bulgaria she got sick, truly sick, for the first time since I brought her home. Pneumonia again. Saturday morning she woke up and crawled in my bed, announcing “Mommy, I’m sick”

Backstory: Everybody’s sick. The timing, could not possibly be worse. I’m sick. I’ve literally coughed over two dozen times since I started typing this. That is actually an improvement. Little Tristan is sick (I do believe that he maybe our Typhoid Mary…Preschools are like human petri dishes this time of year…I digress), my Mom is sick, Jude started (with me) late Wednesday. Vap-O-Rub, fluids, Maty’s, Hot baths, more Vap-O-Rub, more fluids.

Then Saturday came.

Unfortunately, I’m learning what “that look” means.

Dig out the stethoscope from my work bag and DAMN YOU RIGHT LOWER LOBE. But I can’t make out exactly the sound. Because all I can hear is my own congestion in my own head.

To the doctor!

Probably the biggest indicator for them that something was wrong was that she remained quiet for the 20 minutes while we were waiting. Medical Assistant: “Jude, are you doing OK?” Jude “I’m coloring. I’m sick”

She’s right. It’s Pneumonia. Again. We’ve added the antibiotics to our regime of stuff.

3 bouts of Pneumonia in 2 years. Jude was born so early that she spent her first 3 months of life in the hospital’s NICU. Some of that time on a ventilator. Up until recently, with the help of the Body Worlds exhibit, I had no frame of reference of exactly how small (and fragile) Jude was when she was born. To see this myself as I have no right (nor expectation) to ever see a child this premature in a NICU provided valuable insight. Jude’s lungs are still recovering from this rough start. What is a viral illness to her cousin is an assault on her still delicate respiratory system.

Body Worlds is not for everyone. I went down with co-workers as I have a professional interest in the subject matter. Body Worlds is appropriate for children in my opinion, however Jude would have been bored, so I didn’t take her. I was permitted to take photographs, which I have shown her, and she has shown great interest in.

I got far more out of Body Worlds for understanding of Jude’s and Gabriel’s special needs. In addition to the the plastinate of the premature neonate there were multiple organ structures showing the lifetime effects of asthma on the lungs, a cross-section of the brain that was diagrammed so I could clearly see the structure that Jude is missing and understand how it might affect her function, and many other situations that touch us personally. And when I say see, while we are not permitted to touch the plastinates we were permitted to get as close as possible without touching. Oftentimes there were no barriers or glass to obstruct so as in the situation with the set of lungs I was actually able to look down the airways and view the lungs from all angles, understanding why Jude (though she does not have asthma) may struggle so much when she contracts a respiratory infection.

Since viewing the exhibit last month and discussing it with others and mulling it over a bit I was much faster to have Jude seen at the doctor than I ever have been in the past. I felt certain that we would be told that she simply had a virus and that it just needed time to clear. I even sat there in the exam room and told myself I was being the panicky Mom.

Alas, No.

I am hoping that we finally have a grasp on Jude. And that we are at the start of her not developing serious cases of pneumonia ever again. As while she does have Pneumonia, she is MUCH BETTER than she was the previous 2 times.

And obviously, I hope that she is better by Friday. She assures me between coughing fits that she is all better now and perfectly fine to get on an airplane. Good. At least one of us is.


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