AAP, doctors, nurses, EI folks ... whoever is "in charge" of deciding that 2 years old is some magic age where all of a sudden preemies gain back the weeks and months that they missed out in the womb, please, please just stop it. I get that you want to throw away that adjusted growth chart and stop turning a few pages back in that tidy little infant development booklet that we got at our first pediatrician appointment, BUT..
You are setting up unrealistic expectations.
You are creating an arbitrary deadline on prematurity and all of us in the prematurity business know that there is no deadline for the implications of an early birth.
You are also perpetuating the understanding of the general population that prematurity is just something that can be grown out of.
Virginia will turn two in 2 weeks. She has made steady progress since she was discharged from the NICU at 4 months old. In the past 4-5 months she has made some tremendous progress. Amazing progress really... she is really amazing. Yet she does not look like, talk like, walk/run like, or play like a two year old. And you know what? That is A-OK! She shouldn't be two years old in 2 weeks, she should be two years old at the beginning of February. She missed out on nearly 4 months in the warm, quiet, nourishing womb and I think we can give her a pass on catching up to her full term peers before she even reaches pre-school.
We will keep on keeping on, knowing that there is nothing magic about two other than a pink and gold glitter party ;) . I know there will be a day that I won't mentally adjust her age but its not now and it wont be at the same time that other micro-preemie parents stop mentally adjusting for those months lost in the loud and unnatural world of the NICU.
I know I am not alone in feeling mislead, frustrated and annoyed by the promise of "catching up by two." Many others have written about this, both from a parent and physician perspective. Please share other posts on this topic in the comments.
There is no magic age for catching up, not catching up, receiving diagnoses, or understanding long term outcomes. These are moving targets to understanding where the cards of prematurity will fall and working to make the best of the hand we are dealt.