Chances are, you or someone you know have experienced firsthand, the premature birth of an infant. According to the CDC website, 1 in 8 infants are born prematurely in the United States each year. That number is significantly higher in other countries like India and China. Although not all of the causes are known, the CDC lists a few risk factors of premature birth. Some of them include, carrying multiples, problems with the uterus or cervix, chronic health problems in the mother, infections, and drug or alcohol use during pregnancy.
November 17th was prematurity awareness day. As a mom of identical twin girls, born at 31 weeks and 5 days in the “very preterm” stage, I’d like to use this post to share a little bit of my story and provide some additional resources for you to learn about this important topic.
At 31 weeks and 5 days, I developed an infection due to my water breaking three weeks earlier and my girls were taken via emergency c-section. They were 3 lbs. at birth, which is actually a good size for premature babies. They both needed breathing support and were rushed to the NICU immediately. Mothers of premature babies face different realities and experiences. These were a few of mine…
- I couldn’t see my babies until two hours (the longest two hours of my life) after they were born.
- I wasn’t able to hold them for three days.
- I had to leave them at the hospital when I was discharged.
- I pumped exclusively and couldn’t nurse because they weren’t able to.
- I never got to nurse because we had to measure and make sure they took enough milk at each feeding.
- I couldn’t pick them up whenever I wanted.
- We lived with the beeping of machines and tubes everywhere.
- They didn’t come home for six weeks.
- We couldn’t take them out in public for months and anyone that came in the house had to be completely healthy.
- Although they appeared healthy, we worried and to this day worry about long-term effects.
Now I don’t want it to seem like I’m throwing myself a pity party, because I know that I am beyond blessed and we have two healthy children despite the hardships we went through. It doesn’t turn out like that for most of the children that are born early though. Many infants do not survive and others have very serious health concerns. It is my hope that you will use the resources below to learn more about this topic, support it, and be sensitive to moms who are currently going through it or have gone through it in the past. When you speak freely about wanting to deliver early or are tired or sick of being pregnant, please remember these moms. I know we all live in our own current realities and women that are 40 weeks pregnant are uncomfortable, but there are so many moms that would give anything to have one more day, let alone weeks to be pregnant and give their unborn children the gift of time.
Today, I honor the mothers and fathers of premature babies who have fought so hard. You are brave and courageous. I remember the doctors and nurses in the NICU who fight each day to save these babies and help them thrive. You are warriors in a difficult and sometimes very tragic battle. And most of all, we remember all of the sweet babies lost from being born too soon. You are angels and you are loved.