Saturday, November 17, 2012

World Prematurity Day

Today is World Prematurity Day.  The purpose of today is to spread awareness about prematurity.  There are so many things I could write about today, it's a little overwhelming.

Andrew at 1 month old or 30 weeks gestational age.

The main thing on my mind today is how many people prematurity touches.  I have several friends that have babies in heaven because they were born too soon for one reason or another.  All of these babies and their families, unfortunately too many to even list, are in my prayers today.  Another friend of mine has a 24-weeker (at the same hospital we were at) who's been there for months - they are hopeful she will be home for the holidays - she has another toddler at home - and I can't imagine how hard that must be. 

I'm a little embarrassed to admit that aside from one quadruplet story and the preterm birth of a friend's little boy, which I incorrectly assumed were outliers, I really hadn't given prematurity much thought prior to December 17th, 2008.  But, prematurity is prevalent.  15 million babies a year are born prematurely.  I was naive.

So I'm asking for your help.

Learn the signs of preterm labor. While I don't blame myself for Andrew's early birth, and it wasn't attributed to preterm labor itself, I am absolutely sure if I'd been more aware of the signs, I would have said something a little sooner.

Here are the signs of preterm labor.

Donate to a good cause.  We like to donate to the March of Dimes, local NICU, Joel's Foundation, or Aidan's Book Corner.  Joel's Foundation (started by our college friends) and Aidan's Book Corner (started by my friend Maggie) provide books to NICU parents. 

Aidan's Book Corner on Facebook

We are quite blessed with our 2 little boys. Andrew was born at 2 lb 3 oz and is 17 TIMES his birth weight.  If Andrew grows to be a 175 lb adult, he will be 80 times his birth weight.  Whoa.

Andrew at 7 weeks old. 

Aside from growing well, which we certainly haven't taken for granted, Andrew is happy, smart, and generally healthy, but will continue to face challenges due to his severe prematurity.  At 4 years old he is blossoming, but is still facing several developmental challenges, 4 severe sensory issues, and medical issues.  We are thankful that the issues he faces should only continue to improve as he gets older.

Even late preemies are more affected from early births that people realize.  Elliott was fairly healthy especially for a 35-weeker (many require weeks of NICU time and need breathing assistance) but the brain continues to have rapid development in the last weeks in utero, and therefore a 35-weeker's brain only weighs 2/3 of what it would had it reached term. We can't know for certain how this may have affected our little boy, but probably plays a role in his GI issues and gross motor and speech delays.

Andrew at 3 weeks old. 

I also really like this post by a friend with a 25-week miracle!

I like this article too, which touches on late-term preemies.

If anyone you know is facing preterm birth and needs a listening ear or a hopeful story, please send them my way!


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