Most people look at my 2.5-year old and don't think anything of the fact that he is running around, jumping and screaming colors at people. I have a cousin who totally laughed at me for calling Squirty a "special needs" child. Those people didn't have a child who was a preemie.
At 33-weeks, my OB called to tell me I had developed HELLP syndrome. The magnesium sulfate I was given prior to my c-section and for 24 hours after, made the birth experience a total blur. Unlike most new moms, I didn't really get to see my child. It was "here he is" and he was whisked off to the NICU in spite of an APGAR of 9. He was in the NICU for 13 days. In the time, he was transferred hospitals twice. We were blessed with a short stay, though.
Then, he came home... If I thought the NICU was scary, I had no idea that all the extra doctors' appointments for having a baby that weighed 4 pounds would be terrifying. Squirty had a heart murmur and brain hemorrhage. Those required several appointment with cardiologist and neurologists. Our insurance company denied him the RSV vaccination because he was born at 33-weeks, not 32-weeks. I was scared to go anywhere. I barely left the house that winter.
Of course, there is the reflux... Yes, I know full-term babies get it, too. When your 6-lb 2 month old is throwing up on you after every feeding, you panic... This required constant doctors' appointments to get the dosage of medicine right and my baby to sleep in a car seat. Unfortunately, I think it cause some of his gross motor delays.
At 9-months, he wasn't crawling or sitting up on his own, so we we had a physical therapist come to our house. He did walk basically on-time at 14-months. He was classified as normal at 15-months as he was doing everything he should and was on all 3 growth charts.
He is 2.5, now. We are dealing with the terrible twos just like any other mom of a 2-year old. I will always see him as that tiny baby in the NICU attached to monitors with tubes everywhere. He may not currently have any special needs, but the ones we had in the beginning were very draining on me.