This post was written and submitted by a blogging friend of mine, Elizabeth from Frugal Mom Eh. Thank you, Elizabeth for sharing with us your experience of having a premature birth with us. My thoughts are with you and your family as you continue to care for your little one.
November is International Prematurity Awareness Month. Premature birth occurs to a staggering amount of women each year world-wide. Thankfully there are many options, especially in North America, to help raise awareness and funds to aid those affected by prematurity.
I know personally after having given birth to a 29+2 week baby just how physically and emotionally draining the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) experience can be for parents. Thinking back to those 54 days is still upsetting for me in a way only other preemie parents may understand. Many preemie parents will have feelings of hopelessness, grief, loneliness, shock and many other strong emotions.
Yet, this is nothing compared to what these teeny babies have to go through in the first days and months of their life. Many have serious medical conditions such as Bradycardia (A dangerous slowing of the heart rate) and Apnea (An abnormal pause in breathing). Devastatingly some do not make it through the first days of life due to bacterial infections, NEC (Necrotizing enterocolitis) and other so-called “normal” preemie problems many have to fight through.
Often all parents can do is sit and watch their baby sleeping inside an incubator. It was days before I was able to first hold my daughter after the few precious minutes directly after her birth and for some parents it’s a much longer, tortuous wait. I spent my days from 8 am until 10 or 11pm at night at the hospital just watching my daughter. We were lucky to live in close proximity to a hospital with a properly equipped NICU. Other parents have to drive an hour or more daily just to see their child. Thankfully others benefit from the Ronald McDonald house when they live an unfeasible distance away from the NICU.
Now that we are home from the NICU we still have constant appointments with all the specialists who need to ensure she is developing normal. These range from Ophthalmologists to the Neonatal Growth and Development clinic and these continue until the age of two unless there are issues which require further care. Often challenges may continue on late into childhood and beyond for those born premature.
There are many worthy causes supporting efforts to meet the needs of premature infants and their families whom you can volunteer with or donate to. Some of these causes include the Ronald McDonald House, Human Milk Banks, Blood Banks, and so many others. If you are interested in helping it is worth searching for a charity you can relate to.