Today, November 17, is Prematurity Awareness Day. According to the March of Dimes:
"Every year, more than half a million babies are born prematurely in the United States. The rate of premature birth has risen by 30 percent since 1981. Premature birth is the leading cause of newborn death worldwide. Even babies born just a few weeks too soon can face serious health challenges and are at risk of lifelong disabilities."
I had one of those babies. Well, technically two. My twins were born at 36 weeks, 6 days, via a planned induction. I did not have to have a c-section. I did not plan for either of them to have an extended stay in the NICU, but it happened. I was told I was having full-term twins and that there was nothing to worry about.
After a very easy birth (I even got to hold Colin immediately after I delivered him), and both babies nursing for me, we prepared to leave the maternity ward and head to my regular room. However, Colin's temp was one degree too low. They checked his blood sugar. It was one point lower than they preferred. They tried to get him to take a bottle. Didn't happen. In retropect, I should have tried to get him to nurse again. Or tried some kangaroo care. Oh well. No point worry about that now.
Keira came home with me. Colin spent fourteen days in the NICU. There is nothing in the world like leaving the hospital without your baby. Nothing at all. Those fourteen days were a blur of sleepless nights with Keira, traveling to the hospital to see Colin, and spending time with Connor. Connor developed severe separation anxiety because I was gone so much. (He turned two 13 days after the twins were born.)
As a very wise friend once said, this will be a memory that makes you a stronger parent.
And it did.
Not that I would want to live through it again. Colin's hospital stays this past year are hard enough for me, I don't need to be reminded of that NICU time (which I am, every single time I drive to the hospital. I'm filled with what-ifs: would he have these respiratory issues? would he have had the brain bleed? would he have low muscle down and speech delay (would Keira have the issues with her LMT?)
With how chaotic our lives are, with all the not-so-great things that have happened to us lately, I don't care about any of it because all I know is that now I have three healthy-ish, happy children at home with me. I thank God every day for my three little blessings, even when they are driving me crazy.
Please check out the March of Dimes to see how you can help in the fight against prematurity.