Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November is Prematurity Awareness Month

A happy couple receives the exciting news that they are going to be parents.  They will probably worry about the health of their baby and the health of the mother, but will be looking forward to meeting their goal of delivering a healthy, happy, term baby.  They probably don't think a lot about what would happen if they don't meet that goal.  They're not focused on preparing for anything other than a term baby.  They're not prepared for a preemie.  But they may end up as a statistic, 1 of 8 births.

We are the face of the 1 in 8.

We certainly weren't prepared for a preemie, or for the roller coaster ride of the NICU.

So many different factors contribute to a premature birth: sometimes the cause is known, as it was in our case (severe pre-e and IUGR), sometimes the cause is unknown (some women experience unexplained preterm labor, and their delivery cannot be stopped).  Sometimes the cause is preventable.

The March of Dimes is working to help bring awareness to prematurity, and is helping to try to lower the rate of premature birth in this country.  On their website, they state, "Premature birth costs society more than $26 billion a year and takes a high toll on families.  Babies born just a few weeks early are at risk of severe health problems and lifelong disabilities.  Premature birth is the number 1 killer of newborns." (www.marchofdimes.com)

We know all too well about the emotional and physical toll that comes with having a preemie.  We're still waiting to see what lasting effects and/or complications Judith may have because of her very early arrival.  We are very fortunate that, so far, she is doing as well as she is - not all preemies are as lucky as she is.

We, and all families of preemies, need your help.  We need you to help spread the word about prematurity.  On November 17, World Prematurity Day, talk to people about the statistics.  Advocate for all preemies.  You can also donate to the March of Dimes at this page on their website.

Our story is one of the over 1400 stories that happen every year.  My prayer is that this number will decrease significantly, and no family will ever have to go through the hell of having their baby arrive too soon.

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