I am here to be honest with you. Having a preemie is such a deal both in cost and effort. Think of all the deals you have come across in your life. Think of the deals you expect to encounter in the future. Let your imagination run wild. I really doubt the deal you have in mind will come even close to being as good a deal as I am about to share with you.
1. Delivery is really fast. You don’t even have time to anticipate it. One night, you’ll be at home watching TV (in our case, I was trying to watch the latest episode of True Detective on HBO), and you will be truly concerned about everyday tasks, leaning over to your spouse and saying, “Oh gosh, we still have to clean the kitchen.” Then the pain will come. You’ll make a smart decision to go to the hospital to get some drugs or something and be sent home. So, still, having a baby won’t even be on your radar. But then the water breaks and well, you know something is going to happen. You’re not quite sure what. And then a few hours later you have a kid. Very little pain. Lots of drugs. A lot of very nice people working to help you deliver this baby as quickly and as painlessly as possible. And it is. The scar will heal up very nicely.
2. No third trimester. “Wow, killer deal!” You might say. Well, you are spot on. From what I hear, that third trimester is just a pain in the ass, or more like the lower back. Fatigue? Ha, you won’t even get to the worst of it. Frequent urination? You’re safe. A two pound baby does not make you urinate more. Heartburn? Okay, you might still get this if you have a preemie, but it’s not what you think. It’s just because you had tacos with the hot salsa on them, not because you are growing a human being. Swelling? Nope. You’ll be able to wear your wedding ring right up to delivery. Weight gain? Are you freaking kidding me? As soon as you develop the slightest baby bump you’ll be hours away from delivery, saved from the expand-a-pants, saved from the waddle, the stretch marks, and the need to have a whole different wardrobe for that third trimester.
3. Best babysitting in the world. As soon as your baby arrives, NICU nurses, will be with your baby 24/7 until the baby leaves the NICU. The earlier the baby, the more days you’ll get this amazing babysitting at a relatively low cost. You can still go out for dinner. You can go home to sleep. In addition to the nurses there are many other professionals checking in on your baby, making sure she is comfortable and developing as expected. You might be a little stressed about leaving your baby in the NICU at first, but, oddly, you get used to it. You still need to enjoy your free time before you have a baby at home. You weren’t expecting to have a baby this soon. You had three more months. Take them. The NICU team has you covered.
4. The lighter your baby the better. Truly, if you have a really small baby, you just qualified for all sorts of assistance regardless of your income. You will learn about supplemental security income. You’ll get a check from the Feds once a month that has to be used on baby things. Easy enough. And then for some reason you’ll get a little bonus check when your baby leaves the hospital. Sort of like the Feds just saying, “Hey, congratulations! And thanks for paying all your taxes all those years. This is how we roll. We actually do some good stuff with the money you give us. Here’s some back.” Then, if you’re lucky enough to live in Colorado, your little, teeny, tiny baby qualifies for at home physical therapy and occupational therapy visits. Three times a month, they come to you, assess your baby, tell you what the baby needs to do better, tell you where the baby might be a little ahead, and, this is all at no extra cost to you. This time it is like the state saying, “Thanks for paying your taxes. You struck gold with this little girl and now we are going to pay people to help you with her development.”
5. People give in emergencies. The more traumatic the experience, the more people you will hear from, the more flowers you will receive, the more food will show up at your doorstep, the more aid in your mailbox, the more touching notes you will receive from people you’ve met once or have never met before, the more baby clothes you will receive, and the more diaper cakes you’ll be gifted. People will feel for you. They’ll fork over some really excellent gifts and meals. Truly, what a steal.
6. Having a preemie could very well be cheaper than having a full-term baby. When you have a preemie, she needs a place to stay. These places are called neonatal intensive care units or NICUs. A night at our NICU costs as much as the Peninsula Suite at the Peninsula, Chicago, or almost $9,000 a night. Multiplied by 109. No one is going to stick you with that bill. Trust me. In fact, when your bill arrives you could end up paying less than 1% of your total stay. I mean, if you have very solid insurance, you might just pay .007% of your total hospital bill. Double-O-Seven.
7. After hours visiting at the hospital. You know, typically when you show up at our hospital after 8 you have to sign in and say who you are going to visit. They give you a sticker that you immediately throw in the trash. What a waste. It’s a real hassle. You don’t want to stop and talk with anyone, you’re going to see your baby for crying out loud. Worry not. You’ll live at the hospital. After you’re stopped once or twice, you’ll just look over at the security desk when you next enter the hospital after hours and you’ll get in with the head nod you always see guys giving each other.
8. You get to write about it and people will read. And maybe, after you’ve gone through all this and cried a thousand times for your child’s life and watched her vital signs plummet to numbers that you just associate with death, you’ll be able to find some humor in the whole experience and put a spin on it like I just did.