Back-to-School Can Be Like a Roller Coaster – Thrilling and Downright Terrifying
San Jose, California, August 30, 2013
Both of March of Dimes mission mom Debbie Clima’s children were born premature. Son Dominic was born weighing less than 2 pounds, and daughter Olivia was born at just 14.8 ounces. Here she tells us about celebrating milestones and holding her breath while waiting to see if something will go wrong. (Photos courtesy of Clima Family)
“The start of a new school year can be both exciting and nerve-wracking for even the most prepared of moms (and kids). However, when you’re the mom of a preemie, the thought of sending your child to school can be like a roller coaster – thrilling beyond belief and downright terrifying at the same time.
Both of my kids were born premature. Despite weighing less than 2 pounds at birth, our son Dominic has done quite well and doesn’t have any outstanding health issues we have to worry about. On the other hand, our daughter Olivia was born at 24 weeks and weighed just 14.8 ounces at birth. She has chronic lung disease and continues to be feeding tube dependent. In addition to her health issues, Olivia also has some processing delays and fine motor issues that make it difficult for her to complete work independently– especially in a large group.
After spending part of her Kindergarten year in a special day class, she now starts this new school year in a mainstream first grade classroom. She still receives resource support every day and occupational therapy once a week. The thought of sending her into a large classroom was a bit frightening. Would she be able to keep up? Would the teacher make sure Olivia was getting the attention she needed? Would she eat enough at snack and recess (always a concern for us)? Would she love it?
The way I see it, sending your preemie off to school is a bit like the NICU. You know your baby is being taken care of by professionals but you the parent must still be their advocate to ensure that all of their needs are being met. You celebrate the milestones and hold your breath while you wait to see if something will go wrong.
I encourage preemie parents to be actively engaged with your child’s school. Ask questions. Make sure your child’s needs are being met. But also give the teachers time to get to know your child and how to best work with them. And most importantly, enjoy those wonderful moments like when your daughter walks out of school and says “I LOVE first grade!””
About March of Dimes
In 2013, the March of Dimes celebrates its 75th Anniversary and its ongoing work to help babies get a healthy start in life. Early research led to the Salk and Sabin polio vaccines that all babies still receive. Other breakthroughs include new treatments for premature infants and children with birth defects. About 4 million babies are born each year in the United States, and all have benefitted from March of Dimes lifesaving research and education.
The March of Dimes is the leading non-profit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premiere event, March for Babies©, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
Contacts: Sara Hyde-Lampa, March of Dimes State Director of Communications
Sheri A. Lunn, March of Dimes Director of Communications