Silvia in carseat 2

Does anyone else regularly lie about how old their child is?

When I meet another member of the premie-hood we always have a good giggle about the age question. It tends to be the first thing strangers ask when cooing over your ‘newborn’ and it has got me into a bit of hot water before. But what do you tell people when they ask how old your premature baby is?

Having a premature baby is a life changing experience and one I love talking about, but not to everybody. So when someone in the street used to ask me how many weeks my 11lb (eight month old) baby was, I gave myself three options:

The All-Out-Lie

I would quickly glance at my son and pluck out a figure based on how old I thought he looked that day and tell them.

Friendly stranger no 1: “oh, how beautiful, how old is he?”
Me: “eeerrrrrmmm….eight weeks old”
Friendly stranger no 1: “wow, my daughter had a baby eight weeks ago too, what day in February was he born”
Me: “Oh bottom, I’m actually lying to you because I can’t tell everyone the truth, I’d be here all day and let’s face it, we aren’t going to see each other again”

The Shocking Truth (with no explanation)

Sometimes, if I wasn’t in the mood, I’d just tell them the true age of my child and leave them with standing in a puddle of shock

Friendly stranger no 2: “oh, look at the wee little thing, how old is he?”
Me: “eight months”
And off I prance. The End

The Pull Up A Chair Version

If I was in less of a hurry, sometimes I go for the truth

Friendly stranger no 3: “oh, isn’t he cute, look at that face, how old is he?”
Me: “we’ll he is six months old, but he was born thirteen weeks early”
Friendly stranger no 3: “oh my goodness, how much did he weigh”
Me: “863g, the palm of his hand was the size of my thumb nail, I waited six weeks to hold him and he was in hospital for 110 days”
Friendly stranger no 3: “Oh Angela, come here and see this tiny baby, tell Angela how old he is again”

I remember trying to explain this dilemma to my bemused health visitor, who at the time felt I should stop lying, but what did she know. I began dreading the question, not because I was afraid of being caught out, but every time I was asked it became a reminder of how far behind my child was for their age.

I joined a soft play group just before my son turned two. On the last day of term everyone gathered around to sing him happy birthday and I heard someone say, just in earshot, “oh my gosh, is that boy really two?”

I am happy to say that size is not longer an issue. My children are small but I think that is more due to the fact that my husband and I are small and not down to prematurity. As both my babies have grown, the gap between them and children born at the same time as them has closed. I can no longer shock people when I tell them how old they are, in some ways I kind of miss it.