November 17, 2014

World Prematurity Awareness Day #preemie #worldprematurityday

On February 1, 2012, my eldest daughter, Isabelle, was born too soon. She was 30 weeks gestation, and was delivered via c-section after I quickly developed a very serious illness. She didn't "want out", nor did I go into labour, as many people awkwardly joke. It was a terrifying experience.

After 9 weeks in two different NICUs, Isabelle came home to us, and the last 2.5 years have been phenomenal. She is a brilliant little girl, our blessing. We have never let her prematurity define her, or prevent her from doing anything. Being born premature was just a minor blip in the early start of her life's journey.

That said, we celebrate Isabelle's prematurity and make people aware, especially on days like today -- World Prematurity Awareness Day. 1 in 10 babies is born premature, for a whole variety of reasons. It's a situation you're never really prepared for in pregnancy, and truth be told, I don't think you'd ever understand it unless you become a preemie parent.


When I became pregnant again, having another preemie was always at the back of our minds. The doctors were aware of my history, I was constantly being monitored and checked (so grateful) and family members were always looking for signs of impending illness: was I swollen, did I have a headache, any abdominal pain, how was my blood pressure?

Luckily and thankfully, we made it to 36 weeks this time, and while Madeline is technically still a preemie herself, it's strange to think of her as one; we didn't have any NICU stay, she was born at nearly 6 pounds (HUGE compared to Isabelle!), and she doesn't require any formal follow-ups. But, as any preemie parent appreciates, every day in the womb makes a difference, and even at 4 weeks early, Maddie was born very sleepy, didn't have her suck/swallow reflex down and had trouble initially gaining weight. She, too, was born too soon.

I'm thrilled to say both my girls are healthy and happy and thriving.

There are hundreds of preemies born in the world every day -- some as young as 23 weeks. They're so early they're called Micro-Preemies. Some will have a very challenging shot at life. Others defy the odds and amaze the experts. I've had the pleasure of meeting other preemies, some born at 24, 25, 26 weeks, who are running and jumping and talking like a full-term child would. You would never know they were born premature. Because being preemie is a part of them, yet it doesn't define them.

But on a day like today, we have to stop and make everyone know and appreciate the wonder of our teeny babies, who, despite having an unconventional start to life, are simply amazing.

Today is also a day to give thanks to the amazing teams of doctors and nurses who take care of our itty bitty miracles; it takes a very special person to work in an NICU and we were fortunate to have had these outstanding people become like family while Isabelle was in their care. Thank You.

And to all preemie moms and dads out there, I salute you-- today and always.

My name is Julia and I'm a proud preemie mom. And my child is nothing short of extraordinary.

2 comments:

  1. :) the NICU nurses and doctors are definitely wonderful, we had some great support during our NICU stay with my oldest

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  2. Beautiful post, Julia. Proud preemie moms unite! :)

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