Every mom is subject to scrutiny from “well-meaning” people in their lives, from family members to coworkers, or even very nosy strangers. It’s always hurtful; as a parent, it’s impossible not to second-guess your child’s health and safety, and even harder not to beat yourself up when someone else makes a nasty or insensitive comment.
Reddit user QueasyTangerine shared an encounter in which her former coworker made a condescending remark about her preemie daughter. “My daughter was born at 31 weeks old in February, where I eventually transitioned to SAHM life and quit my social work job as a child development specialist,” QueasyTangerine said. “I miss my old job frequently, but my background allows me to put all my knowledge to test with my 9 month old.”
Two months ago, QueasyTangerine stopped into her work with treats for a coworker’s birthday. It was a sweet surprise, and no easy feat for a mom of 9-month-old baby. Mostly, her coworkers were excited to see her, and told her she could come back to her job.
Unfortunately, not everyone was as kind. “One asked if my daughter was in the same services we offer. I stated no – I felt she didn’t need them.”
That should have been the coworker’s cue to drop the subject.
Instead, she said, “She’s GOING to have serious issues, QueasyTangerine; she will definitely need them.”
Even though the incident took place two months ago, the hurt was clearly fresh in QueasyTangerine’s post. So was the mom’s determination not to let her hurt get in the way of seeing all her preemie daughter’s accomplishments.
“Fuck you, Mary-Beth,” she wrote. “My daughter is 9 months old and standing against furniture, saying ‘Mama,’ ‘Baba’ and ‘Dada,’ she’s signing ‘All done’ and ‘Milk’ and is starting to walk against furniture. Her motor, social and communication skills are excelling for a 9 month old who was supposed to be 7 months. She’s crawling, climbing and trying her best – just like I am. My daughter is a warrior. She survived a 2 month NICU stay without your advice and we’ll continue to do great without hearing a peep from you.”
Adults who were born prematurely and went on to live perfectly healthy lives were quick to dissuade the mother from putting too much stock in her former coworker’s comment.
User Kittenmckitten wrote a particularly encouraging response:
“Hi adult preemie here! My mom went into labor at 23 weeks and a couple of days and they gave her medication to stop the labor so I was born at legal treatment limit (at the time) of 24 weeks. I was the smallest baby they had at the nicu. I spend 3.5 months in the hospital, had 26 blood transfusions multiple surgeries (one on my heart) and had five strokes. My birthweight was 620 grams but I dropped to about a lb/ ~500gram because I couldn’t eat.
I am 26 now. I am about 7 inches shorter than my family but they are all 6ft giants so it’s fine. I am the only one in my family wearing prescription glasses and I had a lot of hearing problems/ear infection as a child. But that is it! Everything that people were scared about for me didn’t happen.
I did not have major complications with my digestive system/lung development or brain. I don’t get sick often. My heart is healthy. My blood values are great. I box and Kung fu and I have no problem keeping up. I I like to think I am pretty smart. Studied neuroscience and do research. I read very fast. Trying to go to med school. Working hard.
I have scars on my body as a result of my NICU time. A very long one on my stomach and one on my left hand from the surgery. A couple on my side and in my neck. I hardly notice them anymore. People think they are white ink tattoos since they are very symmetrical shaped so they look like art.
Your child sounds fine to me. Don’t worry about hitting certain milestones too late especially with height and weight. I never got those until I was 18. Even if she is a bit behind on things initially (which it doesn’t sound like that at all! Nine months is pretty early for those things) she get there eventually.
You got this, mama.”
QueasyTangerine reiterated her concern over her coworker’s comment at the end of her post. “I wondered if she was seeing I wasn’t… But I look at my daughter and realize how much she’s overcome, and remember that not every child develops at the same rate and that’s OK. We’re OK.”
Of course, there’s no shame getting developmental services and support for a child who could benefit from them, as determined by a loving parent and a healthcare pro of the parent’s choosing. There’s only shame in offering unsolicited opinions on the development of other parents’ children.