Happy (?) Prematurity Awareness Day! Unless you’re new around these parts, you’ve probably heard me mention that Jillian was born at 30 weeks gestation. Shortly after she was born, I found myself replying “Oh, she was just 30 weeks”, somehow making me feel she was less than a preemie since she wasn’t a micro-preemie.
During my 4 days of hospital bedrest, I was lucky to have my friend Bree come visit. Bree actually had a micro-preemie, Lincoln who was born at 24 weeks gestation and is now a fantastic (almost) 5 year old. She was able to teach me SO much about having a preemie and never making me feel bad for having “just” a 30 weeker.
During our 5 week NICU stay, I (and Adam) had plenty of time doing kangaroo care. (Skin to skin care). It’s an important part of any child’s development, but it is CRUCIAL for preemies! Preemies are found regulating their breathing and maintaining their heart rate, just being held on someone’s chest. Amazing phenomenon In fact, during Jillian’s first 48 hours, she would not desat (drop oxygen levels) when Adam or I touched her. The nurses all said it was because they know their parents, even from an early age. Unfortunately for us, we couldn’t begin skin to skin care until Jillian was off of the ventilator. Lucky for us, she was vent free (and CPAP free) within 48 hours. Even with Lincoln SO early and still being on a vent, Bree was able to hold him.
Shortly after we brought Jillian home, I came across a blog by Heather Spohr. She too had a preemie that was born at 30 weeks. I followed her story, felt that I truly got to know Maddie. I was totally invested in Maddie’s story when she passed away suddenly after a respiratory illness. It became clear to me that more awareness about prematurity needs to be done. Thankfully, The March Of Dimes strives for that awareness.
Thankfully, our NICU stay was fairly uncomplicated. Jillian just needed time to grow and eat. Other parents aren’t so lucky. I reached out today to see if any other parents wanted to talk about their preemie. Jayme from the Tater Twins, shared her story and it was so beautifully written.
Hopefully as modern medicine advances, we can help lower the rates of premature babies. One of the worst days of my life was getting discharged from the hospital WITHOUT Jillian.
It doesn’t matter if you have a micro-preemie or not. It’s still a traumatic experience and it’s all in perspective. Your child might have spent little time in the NICU, but I think we (as parents) generally all feel the same way in that situation. Hopefully less parents will have to go through this, eventually.