Today is World Prematurity Day and for the 1st time in the 3 years since being affected by prematurity I must confess until I had seen Facebook posts reminding me I had forgotten all about it.
Seeing the posts being shared to raise awareness for prematurity made me reflect on our own families experiences. Prior to having had actual experience of being a parent of not one but two children I knew nothing about premature births – they were just things that happened to other people so I didn’t really need to know anything about them. Things started to become problematic in our pregnancy and the only way to give both twins the chance to survive was to elect to deliver at 28 weeks gestation – a whole 3 months early. It was first discussed at our 16 week scan that we would likely have the boys earlier than the usual (for twins) of 36/37 weeks. I can remember telling my sister that it would be OK; they would be small but being on ventilators would mean they could put all of their energy into growing and there was nothing to worry about. Whether this was in some way a coping mechanism on my part or genuine naivety I don’t know. But a few weeks before our delivery date was arranged we had a tour of the NNU (Neonatal Unit) and a ‘counselling session’ with one of the Neonatal consultants and I think it was at that point the magnitude of what we were facing hit us. There were so many hurdles to get over; NEC, infections, just being too small and too weak to fight to survive.
During our time in NNU we met lots of other families (we had quite a long stay of 3 and a half months) and most of them had no idea that they, too, would be becoming “prem parents”. For a long time I couldn’t decide who had the advantage; Mark and I – in knowing that prematurity was in the road ahead – or being oblivious of it until it happened. I don’t think that there is any correct answer to that, but the journey we have taken as a family so far has made us into the family that we are. Although the road has so far been difficult and who knows what lies ahead we have got this far.
Prematurity can happen to anyone but the work that charities such as Bliss do in raising awareness and working with hospitals is amazing; coupled with advancements in medicine, survival rates for even the tiniest of babies are improving!
I don’t know if I believed in miracles until I had two of them!