Exploring the Personal Narratives of Mothers of Former Preterm Infants Now at Preschool Age

Open Access
Adkins, Cherie Sue
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
March 02, 2010
Committee Members:
  • Dr Kim Kopenhaver Haidet, Dissertation Advisor
  • Kim Kopenhaver Haidet, Committee Chair
  • Carol A Smith, Committee Member
  • Patricia Angelica Cranton, Committee Member
  • Kristen H Kjerulff, Committee Member
  • mothers
  • former preterm infants
  • nurses
  • narrative inquiry
  • transformative learning
Having a preterm-born child is often fraught with ongoing challenges for the child’s mother. Yet little is known regarding how that experience, over time, may influence the mother’s health and well-being, how it influences her perceptions and practices of parenting, and the meaning(s) she attributes to it. The purpose of this study was to explore mothers’ personal narratives of their experience of being the mother of a former preterm infant now at preschool age, what meaning(s) they attribute to it, and what nurses can do to support these women. Narrative Inquiry was the research method utilized. The theoretical perspective selected to guide the interpretation of what it is like to be the mother of a former preterm infant now at preschool age is Transformative Learning Theory. Six mothers whose former preterm infants are now at preschool age provided their personal narrative via in-person interview or in written form via email. Each study participant’s personal story of being the mother of a preschooler born preterm was elicited and retained as the primary unit of data. Interpretation and analysis of the data was conducted using hermeneutic data analysis, identifying narrative functions (revealing patterns of thinking, memories, and identity), contexts, and central, metaphoric, participant-specific themes. Identified participant-specific themes include “I matter too,” “savoring the moments,” “honoring new paradigms,” “against all odds,” “affirming my worth,” and “lessons from loss.”