Do you know a baby that was born too soon, too small, unable to suck, unable to breathe on his own? Premature birth is a health crisis that jeopardizes the lives and health of nearly half-million babies each year. It is the #1 killer of newborns and can lead to lifelong disabilities. Worse: the number has increased 31 percent since 1981. It can happen without warning and for no known reason. Until we have more answers, anyone’s baby, could be born too soon.
Medical advances give even the tiniest babies a chance of survival, yet for many babies premature birth is still a life or death condition. It’s the #1 cause of death during the first month of life. And babies who survive face serious health challenges and risk lifelong disabilities.
The rate of premature birth has never been higher. In half the cases, we simply don’t understand what went wrong. We need to fight for answers. And, ultimately, preventions.
Today I blog for Emma and the millions of other premature babies, however instead of focusing on the unhappy side of our story (which you can find here, here and here), I am choosing to focus on the positive outcome of Emma’s birth.
Before Emma was born I didn’t know anyone who was or had a preemie and unfortunately since then I’ve had multiple friends in similar situations. Each time it happened my heart would break a little more because I knew the pain and fear that they were feeling. And yet each time it happened it also made it clear to me why we were “chosen” to take this journey.
Much like premature birth has become the March of Dimes’ fight, my fight has become support for parents of preemies. Unfortunately (or fortunately I guess), when Emma was in the NICU I didn’t know anyone who had been there before. I didn’t have someone to turn to who could tell me that my fears and guilt were normal. I didn’t have someone to talk to who really knew what I was going through and I didn’t realize it at the time, but no one should have to embark on this journey alone. I had an amazing support group of family and friends, but none of them had been in the same place as me and as wonderful as they were, it’s just not the same. My new goal is to make sure that no one has to feel alone, that there is someone to hold their hand or offer them advice and a tissue or just sit and listen to them cry.
Thursday evening marks the first meeting of the Rose NICU Support Group that I have spent months convincing the hospital that is needed. I have found other women with similar stories who also want to offer support to new preemie moms, I researched the *best* way to make this successful and I’m hoping (and trying my hardest to ensure) that the meeting is a success and that this group gets off the ground. I’m also hoping that the group at Rose is just the beginning and that soon my cause will be city (state? country?) wide.
I truly believe that Emma led us on this path so that I could discover this need that I am here to meet. It’s my hope that no one has to go through the trauma of having a premature baby, but until there is a way to guarantee that, I’m here to hold their hand along the way.