Your Premature Baby and Child

The need for information for parents of preterm babies, especially those who were more fragile, is addressed in this interview with Amy Tracy, coauthor of Your Premature Baby and Child.

Interview by Allison Martin

What enticed you to write "Your Premature Baby and Child"?

When my first son, Daniel, was born three months early, I quickly became frustrated by the lack of information on the bookshelves for parents of preterm babies. Following his homecoming, I had even more questions (and found few answers) about how to care for my fragile baby who was on oxygen, an apnea monitor, and medications. It was incredibly frightening!

On top of this fear was incredible loneliness. Most of my family, friends and coworkers didn’t understand my baby’s (and my!) needs. We also couldn’t just go out and do the things full-term parents do because of Daniel’s health.

I wrote "Your Premature Baby and Child" (with a neonatal nurse and two doctors) to help families experiencing the same crisis my family did. It’s the book I wish I’d had during my son’s early years. It offers medical information and parenting guidance, but also the support and comfort that is greatly needed when caring for a preemie.

How has motherhood influenced your life?

Being a mother to my two sons brings me so much joy –- seeing them learn and grow everyday, being loved and giving love unconditionally, simply enjoying our family’s closeness. Sure, there are bad days (like yesterday when my six-year-old brought his bug box full of ants into the house and it broke!), but I still think motherhood is a great job.

Becoming a mom also helped me realize my goal of freelance writing. I never would have quit my editing job at a big legal publisher if I didn’t think Daniel, then Steven, needed me at home. When they were small, I used to write in between naptimes, at McDonald playgrounds, while waiting at the doctor’s office. Now that they’re in school, it’s much easier. I also think it’s great that my kids grew up watching their mom work so hard to achieve a dream; it’s a valuable lesson.

Is there any advice you’d like to offer to new parents of preemies?

Yes! Empower yourself with information! Learn all you can about your baby by asking questions, by reading everything you can find, by searching on the Internet. Don’t focus on all the things that could go "wrong" during hospitalization, but rather learn about your baby’s unique needs and concerns. The more you know about your baby, the better prepared you’ll be to care for him or her.

Also, surround yourself with lots of support. Help can come from family and friends, other preemie parents, an on-line support group, a nurse or social worker, a clergy member. Support can be especially valuable following homecoming.

Finally, don’t forget to simply experience being a new mom or dad. All the care giving your baby requires, both in the hospital and at home, is time consuming and exhausting. Try to spend some time every day enjoying your baby -- you both deserve it.

Amy E. Tracy is the coauthor of Your Premature Baby and Child. She is also a frequent contributor to national parenting magazines, including American Baby, Moms on Call, and Twins. After her first son was born prematurely, she founded a support group and newsletter for preemie parents. The American Institute for Public Service recognized Amy’s efforts. A graduate of Syracuse University with bachelors in English and magazine journalism, Amy lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado.