I was born at 6.5 months, towards the end of the second trimester. I’m glad to be here at all, so I’m not complaining. Thanks to a lot of great work and care by my mom ( <3 Diane Luster Bekheet )plus all of the help she rallied together given the resources available as they were in early 1972 and onwards, I was able to go to school and managed to carve a path for myself, such as it was, through life to who I am today, thinking, feeling, doing whatever it is that I do. But, a lot of things were out of her control and among the many helpers, a lot of things were out of THEIR control. The conditions in a newborn intensive care unit (NICU) are a sensory overload for preterm births. All nerves firing while still building a brain and dual nervous systems, outside of the protections of the amniotic sac, the Amnion the closest membrane, the Amniotic fluid or "liquor amnii" the atmosphere / background / context / environment / medium. I'd JUST figuring out "blinking" and immediately had to put it to use, BUT.... 1) I wasn't old enough yet to "squint" to bright lights yet. 2) "rooting reflex" – turning to a touch on the cheek - hadn't developed yet. 3) Didn't yet develop the capability to coordinate breathing on my own. 4) Bending arms and legs capabilities wasn't ready yet. 5) I had REM sleep all ready and was already dreaming while in the womb BUT I couldn't squint yet to bright lights and couldn't "deep sleep". Thankfully my eyelids were no longer transparent at least. 6) "Hand-to-mouth soothing", I didn't start yet, so I couldn't calm myself down yet by that method. 7) Clearly definable states were FAR OFF for me - "quiet sleep, active sleep, drowsy, quiet and alert, awake and fussy, or crying" all intermixed with one another. Clearly definable baby states don't start until 33-36 weeks. 8) Social responding such as predictable responses to similar sounds and noises wasn't ready yet, so communication was difficult. 9) I was ready to respond to _pleasant sounds_ but only one at a time. Eye contact plus pleasant sounds was too overwhelming. (source: https://raisingchildren.net.au/newborns/premature-babies/development/premature-baby-26-36-weeks ) 10) I felt pain across the whole skin to MOST general stimulus, even to gentle extended holding, but not very responsive to pin pricks. Plus, the whole skin nerve pain would linger for many many minutes, long after the source was removed. This response is flipped in standard term babies. (source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0378378202000701 ) So, what's in a NICU? Bright lights. Sounds. Lots of physical stimulations. What's not in a NICU? the protections of the amniotic sac, the Amnion the closest membrane, the Amniotic fluid or "liquor amnii" the atmosphere / background / context / environment / medium. What life-long effects stem from these early traumas? Traumas that normal term babies are more developmentally prepared for but that preterm (premature) are not? Recently, the taxonomy of this study has switched to "sensory processing disorder (SPD)" (2007) in place of the term "sensory integration dysfunction" (1963) to better work with systemic issues that previously were studied as distinct problems. They knew a lot in 1972. They know even more in 2019. But there's still a long way to go.

I was born at 6.5 months, towards the end of the second trimester. I’m glad to be here at all, so I’m not complaining.
 
Thanks to a lot of great work and care by my mom ( <3 Diane Luster Bekheet )plus all of the help she rallied together given the resources available as they were in early 1972 and onwards, I was able to go to school and managed to carve a path for myself, such as it was, through life to who I am today, thinking, feeling, doing whatever it is that I do.
 
But, a lot of things were out of her control and among the many helpers, a lot of things were out of THEIR control.
 
The conditions in a newborn intensive care unit (NICU) are a sensory overload for preterm births. All nerves firing while still building a brain and dual nervous systems, outside of the protections of the amniotic sac, the Amnion the closest membrane, the Amniotic fluid or “liquor amnii” the atmosphere / background / context / environment / medium.
 
I’d JUST figuring out “blinking” and immediately had to put it to use, BUT….
 
1) I wasn’t old enough yet to “squint” to bright lights yet.
 
2) “rooting reflex” – turning to a touch on the cheek – hadn’t developed yet.
 
3) Didn’t yet develop the capability to coordinate breathing on my own.
 
4) Bending arms and legs capabilities wasn’t ready yet.
 
5) I had REM sleep all ready and was already dreaming while in the womb BUT I couldn’t squint yet to bright lights and couldn’t “deep sleep”.
 
Thankfully my eyelids were no longer transparent at least.
 
6) “Hand-to-mouth soothing”, I didn’t start yet, so I couldn’t calm myself down yet by that method.
 
7) Clearly definable states were FAR OFF for me –
“quiet sleep,
active sleep,
drowsy,
quiet and alert,
awake and fussy,
or crying”
 
all intermixed with one another. Clearly definable baby states don’t start until 33-36 weeks.
 
8) Social responding such as predictable responses to similar sounds and noises wasn’t ready yet, so communication was difficult.
 
9) I was ready to respond to _pleasant sounds_ but only one at a time. Eye contact plus pleasant sounds was too overwhelming.
 
 
10) I felt pain across the whole skin to MOST general stimulus, even to gentle extended holding, but not very responsive to pin pricks. Plus, the whole skin nerve pain would linger for many many minutes, long after the source was removed.
 
This response is flipped in standard term babies.
 
 
So, what’s in a NICU? Bright lights. Sounds. Lots of physical stimulations.
 
What’s not in a NICU? the protections of the amniotic sac, the Amnion the closest membrane, the Amniotic fluid or “liquor amnii” the atmosphere / background / context / environment / medium.
 
What life-long effects stem from these early traumas? Traumas that normal term babies are more developmentally prepared for but that preterm (premature) are not?
 
Recently, the taxonomy of this study has switched to “sensory processing disorder (SPD)” (2007) in place of the term “sensory integration dysfunction” (1963) to better work with systemic issues that previously were studied as distinct problems.
 
They knew a lot in 1972. They know even more in 2019.
 
But there’s still a long way to go.
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