Jan 31, 2008

Yeshe, small and thin

Appropos the low birthweight study I discussed in my previous post, our third child, Yeshe, who was born on Dec 30th, 2007, was low birthweight. She was born full term, at home, after a calm, smooth labor. So calm in fact that she was born with her sac intact, what is traditionally referred to as in the caul. Midwives have told me this is a sign of wisdom, psychic insight, and even spiritual teachings, while another friend set me a clipping from an early 20th century memoir that talked about how ship captains would take a caul with them to the sea for good luck. I hope this gift serves Yeshe, which means wisdom in Tibetan, well.

Will Yeshe experience any sequelae of her low birthweight? And how did she come to be low birthweight? I ate like a horse during my pregnancy and gained 35 pounds. Her weight---5 lb, 10 oz---is a mystery as is so much in life.

The question my husband and I recently debated was---should we tell Yeshe that she was low birthweight? Or would we pathologize her by showing this concern? We decided that this information was only relevant on a need to know basis. Sure, she'd get her birth certificate, but unless mentioning her birthweight was relevant to an ongoing health issue, why burden her? Then we thought about our twins---who were born at 26 weeks and are now 3.5. The same strategy could apply---unless they need to know about their prematurity because of an ongoing health issue, why bring it up?

On the flip side, I also think that when they are older---teenagers? in college?---I might talk about their NICU stay, but always keeping in mind that it is MY experience of the NICU that I would be relating, not theirs, which will always remain a mystery to me (and perhaps) them.

What do you think--- where do we draw the line between helpful information and pathologizing our kids? How much is our experience of prematurity as parents relevant to our kids and when and how do we choose to share with them? For more on this topic see the post in The Preemie Experiment.