Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Prematurity Awareness Day

November 17th isn't a national holiday. It's not even a bank holiday. But it IS Prematurity Awareness Day. I've been thinking all week about my "Blog for Babies" entry - at first I thought I'd take the statistics route. Ya know, "1 in 6 babies born in Alabama is born premature", "40% of premature births are unexplained", or maybe even "a baby born at 23wks has a 17% chance of survival". But then I realized that statistics are...well, just numbers. So in lieu of bombarding you with generic statistics, and since most of you already know my Sarah, I'll give you OUR prematurity numbers.

13 weeks early. Sarah was born at 27w3d.

1000 grams. Sarah's birth weight. That translates approximately to 2lbs, 3oz.

12.5 inches. Sarah's length at birth. She was one inch longer than a Barbie doll.

9 leads, wires, tubes and hoses connected to Sarah in the photo above (she was three days old).

5 blood transfusions. Three from unknown donors. Two from her PaPa (my dad).

2 rounds of medication needed to close the Patent Ductus valve in her heart.

0 brain bleeds. We're amazingly lucky to have dodged that bullet.

19 days before we were able to hold Sarah.

1 NEC scare. Necrotizing Enterocolitis. Feared by preemie parents everywhere.

80 days on oxygen, delivered via ventilator (2 days), CPAP (2 weeks) and nasal canula.

109 days in the NICU.

Please don't think it ends there. Prematurity isn't "cured" at NICU discharge. No, it follows you home. And I'm honestly not sure it ever goes away. Every time Sarah sneezes, I remember how fragile her lungs still are. Every time I put 6mo pants on my almost 16mo old child, I remember how small she is. Every time I walk into St. Vincent's hospital and smell the hand soap, I remember the many days that I thought we'd never make it home.

After 16mos, I've finally been able to make (a TINY bit of) peace with Sarah's early birth. At the very least, I'm doing my best to make sure that (a TINY bit of) something good comes from our experience.

-I'm now volunteering with an amazing group ( that ministers to NICU families in our area. That "ministry" comes in the form of prayer, but also in the form of emotional and sometimes even financial support.

-We're also involved with the mission of the March of Dimes now. We participate in their annual Blue Jeans for Babies and March for Babies fundraisers.

-Though it's difficult every time, we return regularly to the hospital where we spent those first three and a half months. Sometimes we go with donations for the NICU(swings, bouncy seats, blankets, clothing) and sometimes we go with goodies for the NICU and labor/delivery nurses (donuts, cookies, BBQ). Simply put, they saved Sarah. We want them all to know how grateful we are for that.


So, there you have it. A face to put with the statistics of Prematurity Awareness Day. A face representative of 500,000+ premature babies born each year. Please support your local March of Dimes chaper in their fight for babies like Sarah.