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.