A baby born prematurely isn't necessarily sick or born early because of some disease or drug addiction. Preterm labor can start for any number of reasons. In my case, I had an incompetent cervix that couldn't carry the weight of two growing babies at once.
You'll rarely hear me calling my son a preemie. At 36 weeks and 5 days, he was only technically premature by two days, which people seem oddly disappointed to learn when they ask, "So how early was he?"
According to the American Lung Association- about 5,000 to 10,000 babies born in the United States each year have BPD (bronchopulmonary dysplasia). BPD is also known as Chronic Lung Disease. More babies today have BPD than 30 years ago because more and more very premature babies are surviving.
I was wretched and retching and people said, "Maybe you have strep throat, too," but I didn't have strep throat. I had the kind of fear that reaches into your insides and empties you out and makes you certain that you can not step one foot away from your child, much less walk on to a plane.
There are a few universal truths about tiny, baby humans. They cry. They poop a lot. They need a lot of love and attention (but not actually a whole lot else). They have delicious-smelling heads. But there was one thing I got wrong about those little, love-and-attention-needing babies.
Preemie moms know loss. They know what it's like to imagine their futures and those of their children and know that maybe it will be much harder than they ever imagined. But they also know other things.
As Prematurity Awareness Month (November) comes to an end and Thanksgiving approaches, I wanted to share the top 10 things I'm thankful for as the parent of a preemie, as unconventional as they may be.
My daughter, Jane, was born at 32 weeks gestation. I hadn't had a baby shower yet. The nursery was a painted room filled with boxes. We hadn't even taken birthing classes yet; they were scheduled for the following Tuesday (Jane would be a week old by then).