Every now and then since our first born son was 4 months old (when we were not too tired or sick), hubby and I would ask some friends to house-sit for us while we spend some couple time out of the house (a.k.a. a date!). Our boys have their bedtime around 8pm so dates at night have been possible. Upon returning home, our house-sitters would give us an incredulous look (if they were there for the first time) and ask us questions along the lines of “What did you do to the kids/ baby? Drug them/him? Hit them/him on the head with a hammer? I mean… you just said good night and closed the bedroom door and they/he just went to sleep!! And they/ he didn’t fuss the whole time we were here!!”
Our response would always be 2 words: Sleep training
I have been wanting to pen this down for the longest time but never really gotten down to doing it. So what is my motivation for writing an account of how my 2 year-old boy, who was born 9+ weeks early, is growing? To encourage the doctors and nurses who took care of him during his stay at the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), to encourage mums who have premature babies and finally, as a reminder to my little one how God has been good to him.
Note: Each premature baby’s (preemie) growth is different and my little one’s growth is unique to him. Some may be ridden with a whole host of health and developmental issues whereas some grow up to be perfectly healthy adults. Even at the age of 2, it is still too early to tell how he will be when he grows up.
I often get the question “How did you manage to take care of two little ones, cook AND do housework all by yourself?” I would often just smile and say “By God’s grace” and sometimes “I don’t know how I managed”. That is not the kind of answer some would like to hear as they would like a solution to make their hectic, chaotic, sleep deprived days of dealing with little ones more manageable… even with the help of a maid or grandparents.Coming up with a more complete answer would require either a chat with the interested party or taking time to organize and pen down my thoughts. Since the former is not always possible given the circumstances that I meet the interested parties, the latter would be a better option for me to reach out to more people.
In case you think I have kids who are easy to take care of, well… I don’t. I have two boys who are born slightly less than two years apart and the younger boy was born 2 months prematurely. A relatively small age gap meant that the elder boy still needed physical help with many things while I had to take care of all the physical needs of the younger boy. Both boys have minds of their own and incredible lung power and stamina for crying. Premature babies need to be fed more often because of their low birth weight and are very difficult to nurse in the early days (notoriously sleepy at feeds and unable to suck well).
Before I “impart” any useful survival tips, I must declare that I am no supermum with limitless energy, patience and wisdom. I would rather indulge in my favorite hobby — sleep, than struggle out of bed at 6.15am every morning (weekends and public holidays included). I often fail to discipline my kids without feeling anger welling up inside me. I often do not know what to do. All these inadequacies only serve to point me to my need for Jesus Christ and the salvation He offered to me, and rely on God’s grace that never fails to run out as He refines me to be more Christ-like until I see Him face to face. What I have to share comes from my personal experience, so it is not prescriptive for everyone.