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November 16, 2017

November 17 is World Prematurity Awareness Day

November 17 is World Prematurity Awareness Day.

6 years ago, this day would not have meant a thing to me. And then on February 1, 2012, we had our first daughter, 10 weeks premature. 2.5 years later, in 2014, we had our second daughter; while the experience was not as terrifying, she also came early -- 5 weeks this time. You can read about how I became a preemie mom here.

Photo by Tony Di Zio
Every year, as November 17 nears, I think about my preemies. Of course, I think about their "preemieness" often. How fortunate we are. How smart and funny they are. If we ever have a challenge -- potty training, reading, behaviour -- I wonder if it's caused by prematurity. I wonder if it would be different if they weren't born prematurely.

But the bottom line is: my girls -- both preemies in their own way -- are healthy, and they're here. And no matter the challenges (every single kid has challenges, even full-term babies), we handle them together. Donny and I have never let prematurity define our kids, especially Isabelle, as she was the 30 weeker.

But we do talk about it.

I bring up my journey and being a preemie mom with many people. It's not for pity or praise- -- it's for awareness. I share my experience so other moms and dads understand that not all preemies are delivered because of premature labour (mine weren't), and not all preemies are "behind" their peers developmentally. Not all preemies are tiny -- mine are, but they likely would have been if they were full-term anyway.

Conversely, all preemies are strong, feisty little fighters. And they need to be celebrated.

And on November 17, we also celebrate preemie parents. Because being a preemie parent (especially in the beginning) is tough. It means daily visits or stays in a hospital, often leaving another child behind. It means not holding your baby for days or weeks, and when you do hold them, it's for a limited time. It means dealing with guilt and fear before happiness and joy. And for this reason, we celebrate preemie parents, too.

So on this little platform that is Simply Suppa, I've continued to be a preemie advocate, because while I didn't choose to be a preemie parent, it chose me. And so I've embraced that responsibility and I always try to share great preemie products or preemie initiatives, again, to help raise awareness.

A little while ago, I stumbled across this book, I Was a Preemie Just Like You, by preemie mom, Ali Dunn. These are great gifts to give a preemie child to help them understand how they were born. We often tell Isabelle that she stayed in the hospital when she was born, and mommy and daddy (and other family members) would come and visit her. We show her photos. It's not an experience to shame, it's an experience to share.

I Was a Preemie Just Like You is available for sale here.

Lastly, this year I have joined forces with Hand Full Hearts and fellow preemie moms, Fabiana and Melissa, to help create NICU Holiday Baskets for parents who have a child in the NICU. Fabiana and Melissa (and a large team of volunteers) make an outstanding 100! gift baskets to deliver to parents at Mount Sinai and Sunnybrook Health Sciences, and this year, they have added Mackenzie Health to their NICU Roster. Isabelle was born at Sunnybrook and spent almost two months at Mackenzie Health in the NICU and so, it's my absolute honour to help create baskets for the parents of the NICU.

If you'd like to donate items for these NICU baskets (we're making 12 for Mackenzie Health), we're looking for grocery gift cards, books, hopeful items, blankets, scarves, hand cream, lip balms, etc, please contact me.

Thank you for helping to share the awareness of prematurity and for celebrating our little miracles.


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