Prior to the birth of my daughter, I knew nothing about preemies. I never dreamed I'd have her early. I'd had a previous early miscarriage, so I knew that the possibility of losing her before 12 weeks gestation was there. I thought once I hit the magical 12 week mark I was "safe" and would carry to term.
I was so wrong.
1 in 8 babies is born before 37 weeks (March of Dimes). One in eight. Before I had my preemies, I didn't know about the NICU. I didn't know about the tubes and the wires, the ventilator and the bililights. I thought it would be cute for the baby to come a little early, because it would be so small.
I had no idea.
No idea what small was. No idea that small isn't cute. It's frightening.
I've had two preemies. One was 26 weeks, and the other 29 weeks and 2 days. I have to add the two days, because with preemies, every hour in the womb counts.
26 weeks, 29 weeks 2 days. Both were very early. How do you measure that difference? How can you put a value on 3 weeks and 2 days in the womb?
B, Day 1. Born at 26 weeks.
E, Day 1. Born at 29 weeks 2 days.
The diaper on the left is a Pamper's Preemie sized diper. It's the size E's wearing in his picture. On the right, is a Pamper's micropreemie diaper. It's the size B's wearing in her pic. And it was huge on her. My BlackBerry is just for size reference.
E's NICU blood pressure cuff on top, B's on the bottom.
B's footprints vs. E's footprints. A quarter in the middle, for size reference.
This was E's birthday this year...
And this was B's.
When I think of fighting for preemies, I think of preventing preemies. Medicine will never be able to create an equivalent to the womb. Even if B had lived, she would never have sailed through NICU like E did.
So pregnant women: know the signs of preterm labor. Be pushy. Fight for every second, every hour more that you can give your child in your womb. Stay on bed rest. Do whatever it takes to keep that baby inside you for every second possible.
Because 3 little weeks and two measly days can make a life or death difference.
Fight for every one.