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November 01, 2012

November is Prematurity Awareness Month

November is the start of a new season, so to speak. After all the pumpkins have been discarded - or smashed! - and the costumes put away, November marks the countdown til the end of the year. For Americans, this probably doesn't start happening until after their Thanksgiving, but for us Canucks, we don't have a major holiday from now until Christmas. 

Over the past few years, though, Movember has been giving November a bit more meaning, with men around the world growing staches for Prostate Cancer Research. A wonderful cause in which Canada, as a country, triumphs. And of course, lest we forget November 11, Remembrance Day - a day to honour our past and current war vets and those who have fought and won, or fought and given their lives for our country. 

According to the March of Dimes web site:

  • In the US, 1 in 8 babies is born prematurely, and
  • Worldwide, 15 million babies are born too soon each year

In Canada, the numbers are similar. According to The Linden Fund, Canada's Preemie Baby Charity:
  • About 1 in 7 or almost 15% of babies in Canada are born preterm
  • Of those, 84% are born between 32 and 36 weeks of gestation. Around 10% are born between 28 and 31 weeks and 6% are born earlier than 28 weeks 
I think it's safe to say that most people would want to carry their baby full term, and while I wouldn't wish a stay in the NICU for any parent, preemies do alright! They are vigilant little fighters, and for me, have had the ability to restore faith and belief. 

My baby was born at 2.5 pounds, or 1120 grams, at 30 weeks. She was 10 weeks premature - very premature - but not as premature as some we met in hospital; some were born at 900 grams, others born at 24/25 weeks. There are difficulties, yes. Most require devices to breathe, oxygen, feeding tubes, some require surgeries or blood transfusions. It's heartbreaking to see these tiny little beings. 

But as they grow, and they do, you learn to relish in every day. You celebrate every breath, and cry, and babble and movement. You learn not to take things for granted, smile more, laugh, dance and sing. You become more patient, because you have to, and more loving, because as a nurse at Sunnybrook in Toronto told me, "You can't spoil a baby with too much love."

I've met a few other preemie-moms in the last 9 months and although all were once strangers, we are somehow united. Our babies did that for us. It takes a preemie parent to fully understand, and when people will stop me and say, "My baby was born 10 days early", I just smile and nod. They have no clue. 

This month, in addition to other stories, I will be blogging more about Prematurity Awareness, because it's something everyone needs to learn. Together, the world needs to find a way to reduce the number of premature babies born, and if I can do my little bit, I will. 

Cheers, and thanks to you,


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