By Pattie Pacella, Special to the Neighb News
Did you know that there are more than 15 million babies born premature around the world every year? Medically, the term “premature” refers to a baby being born less than 37 weeks. Premature babies are most often referred to as preemies.
In some cases, there is a term, micro-preemies. A micro preemie is a baby who is born weighing less than 1 pound, 12 ounces (800 grams) or before 26 weeks gestation. Premature babies may have more medically complex issues and most have to spend time in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
November 17th, is World Prematurity Day. For moms and dads of premature babies, it is a day of reflection and memories. It is a day that we remember our own premature babies, or in our case, micro preemie babies and see how far they have truly come from those first very fearful days in the NICU.
For my family, we are somewhat saddened by our NICU and prematurity experience, but six years later, we are also humble and count our blessings daily.
Our daughter, Grace is a former micro preemie. Born at 27 weeks, 3 days, along with her brother, Maxwell, twin A and B were born at 1 lb. 12 ounces. (Maxwell passed at four days old.)
Grace is a light brown curly haired vibrant, strong, and happy six-year-old who now attends school at East Fairhaven Elementary.
Grace spent 125 days in the NICU at Maine Medical (another story for another time), and was discharged with a few medical complexities; but to look at her today, one would never know how much she has encountered and dealt with in her little life.
At this time, Grace is non-verbal with the constant sound of “hi” and “mama.” She can speak sign language and makes her needs and wants known through sign language. She loves girly things: painted nails, jewelry, and sparkles. Yes, she is your typical little girl. She has a smile and laugh that brightens up everyone’s day who comes in contact with her.
Not so typical, because of her prematurity she has had to learn how to eat and swallow. She currently gets her nutrition through her gtube (feeding through her belly).
Every day is a new experience with and for Grace.
She is motivated by other children and her peers at EFS. Not so typical, she uses a walker at school to walk around, and does an awesome job holding our hands to walk too.
Prematurity is not something that any Mom or Dad wants for their baby, but it happens and as parents you learn to appreciate the smallest milestone that comes with it.
She started out at 1lb, she is now nearly 40 lbs. She had a medically complex background as an infant, but now she is a thriving six-year-old.
For moms of premature babies there can be a lot of guilt and anxiety around the birth of our children. For me, I have had an on-line women support group in the last six years. It’s not a club I asked to be in, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Grace has a very strong spirit.
Thank you for allowing me to introduce you to my 1 lb. 12 oz Micro-Preemie, Grace!
So, on November 17th, say a prayer, hug your child and relish in all their accomplishments, even the very small ones. If nothing else, remember, “When life kicks you down, Fight like a Preemie!”
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Click here to download the entire 11-16-17 issue: 11-16-17 VetsParade