I woke up this morning compelled to write you all. Today is World Prematurity Day. This day means a great deal to me. My twins were born a month early. Most multiples are. My girls were in the NICU for 3 and 8 days. We were lucky that they just needed to regulate their temperature and gain a little weight. However, the experience of not bringing my babies home will always haunt that happy time in our journey of becoming parents. That time came with a great deal of guilt, fear, worry, and helplessness. I wish no parent or babies had to go through it but, unfortunately, prematurity is all too common. An estimated 15 million babies are born too early each year with a disproportionate number being from minority and impoverished families.
But being born early comes with risks. Premature babies are more likely to have respiratory, digestive, and immune issues. They may be slower to learn, slower to develop, and be considered underweight. They may not be able to regulate their body temperature well either.
Not to mention there are emotional and financial tolls that are taken on parents of premature babies. Parents of premature babies are more likely to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorders and may have trouble attaching to their new babies who sometimes spend months in isolates unable to be held. They may need to travel far distances to be near their little ones and may have to even move into temporary housing. Some parents even have to go back to work full-time before their baby is out of the NICU.
I tell you these things not to scare you. We luckily live in an age of amazing medical advances where even the tiniest of babies have a good chance of living full lives. However, I tell you this because if you have the option to birth early, you really need to weigh the benefits and risks seriously. Also, those that receive proper prenatal care can significantly reduce their chances of a premature birth and/or set their babies up for the best chance at life if they do come early.
So bottom line - take care of yourself, take care of your body, and take care of your baby as best you can. I take great comfort in knowing that amazing organizations like Lamaze International and the March of Dimes are here to educate, research, and advocate for better outcomes for all our babies around the world. I'd also like to encourage you to make a donation to the March of Dimes today in honor of those 15 million babies who will come into this world a little too early this year. Today your gift is tripled through a matched donation so your gift goes even further!
Thanks for listening. Wishing you full terms and healthy beginnings!