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November 17, 2022

Prematurity Awareness Day

Today is World Prematurity Awareness Day, a day to recognize and celebrate all the babies in the world born too early.

Many people know my story -- how I developed HELLP syndrome while pregnant with our eldest, Isabelle. Isabelle was born at 30 weeks gestation and stayed in the hospital (2 hospitals) for 62 days. When our family graduated, I vowed to turn our experience into advocacy.

What you may not know, is that Madeline is also a preemie. She was born around 35 weeks because I began to develop that same illness -- only we knew to look for it. Madeline was, in fact, smaller than Isabelle when she came home, although, thankfully, didn't require any hospital stay. 

They were (and are) small, but mighty. And we are so very lucky.

1 in 10 babies worldwide is born too soon. In Canada, 30,000 babies are born prematurely each year. 

Like many hardships in life, talking about your experience often connects you with others who share similar stories. I became acquainted with other amazing moms, who, like me, were preemie parents. While all of our stories vary slightly, we share many of the same emotions and trauma. 

Through our experience, I have been honoured to speak at the Mackenzie Health Groundbreaking, organize a NICU picnic, donate baskets to the local NICU through an organization called Handful Hearts, and most recently, speak on behalf of Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital at the Ferrari of Ontario rally this fall. 

After our NICU stay in 2012, I advocated for the new NICU, a parent lounge, a place to rest and think. A few weeks ago, I was elated to visit the NICU at Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital and shed a few tears of pride -- the new Women & Child area is beautiful, with spacious rooms and a detailed NICU that considers both the care of babies and the parents. 

Today, I wear purple to honour all the premature babies, and all the preemie parents -- it's a title few of us expect to get, but one that is so very meaningful.

If you, or someone you know, is a new preemie parent, needs some advice, or even a listening ear from someone who's been there, please don't hesitate to reach out. If you'd like to learn more about premature babies, check out the Canadian Premature Babies Foundation -- my fellow preemie mom and friend, Fabiana, and her team do outstanding work.

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