Today, 17th November, is World Prematurity Day, raising awareness of the challenges of premature birth. I wanted to explore what prematurity means to different people so I posed the question, ‘What does prematurity mean to you?’, on social media. The answers I received emphasise the impact that a premature birth can have on a family. They give us a rare and poignant window into parents’ most traumatic memories of neonatal intensive care. They provide a snapshot of daily life in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). And they highlight the love, care and dedication of parents and other family members towards their babies.
Last week, September 13th-19th, was Neonatal Nurses Week. A few nurses stand out for me from our own NICU journey across 4 different hospitals. Firstly, Rebecca, whose emotional intelligence and insight was invaluable more than once during the first 6 weeks of our daughter’s life.
Today is a day of celebration in our household, for after 2 long years our daughter has finally been discharged from neonatal care. Born at just 24 weeks, she spent 150 days in 4 different hospitals before coming home in November 2019. She battled metabolic bone disease, chronic lung disease, sepsis and meningitis.
There’s been so much focus on Covid-19 for so long that it’s easy to forget how a common cold can be just as tough for a preemie to deal with. What amounts to a snotty nose and a bit of a cough for most of us can be enough to land a preemie back in hospital on oxygen, antibiotics, nebulisers, steroids and worse.
Last Wednesday we attended a reunion of the preemie babies who were in hospital at the same time as our little girl. The last time these children were in the same room, they were all in incubators attached to sats machines. Now they are strapping 2 year olds, strutting their stuff and fighting over the Tiny Tots cars.
How much do childhood crises like prematurity, illnesses and serious accidents influence the way we parent our children? It’s an interesting question and one that I’m thinking more and more about as my baby becomes a little girl.
It was my little girl’s birthday this week. She technically turned 2, though if she hadn’t been born 15 weeks early, she wouldn’t have been celebrating her second birthday until October. It seems odd that she will forevermore have a summer birthday when she could easily have had an autumn one.
Today’s post is a guest blog from Ethan Ryan whose son, Oliver, was born extremely prematurely during covid lockdown. Oliver very sadly passed away a few months after he was born and in this blog Ethan talks about how he helped his daughter, Rose, through her grieving process.
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