My daughter was born eight weeks early during the first week of August in 2002. She weighed less than 4 lbs. and was so minute that the feeding tube carefully but obtrusively threaded through her nose took up half of her jaundiced little face.
That means today, on World Prematurity Day 2015, more than 41,000 premature babies will be born. Many will grow up healthy, receiving the care that they need immediately after birth and in the days, weeks, and months to follow.
Don't apologize for her birth. I may not be able to hold her for weeks or months, but she is still my baby. She may be on life support for many months, but she is still my baby. I may have only carried her in my womb for 23 weeks, as opposed to 40 weeks, but she is still my baby.
As I think back to Aidan's homecoming, and our past year as the March of Dimes National Ambassador family and raising awareness about the serious health problem of preterm birth, I'm proud of how much we accomplished and how far Aidan has grown and overcome.
Investing in healthcare for women and children contributes directly to the socio-economic development and security of families, communities and nations. Within a generation, it is possible to bring an end to preventable maternal and newborn deaths with sustained commitment.
For the millions of families who are living the reality of premature birth, awareness is only part of the picture. Having a preemie is a life-altering experience, one which no parent is completely prepared for.
Today, we face the post-2015 challenge of preterm birth in the same way that we once faced the other leading causes of child mortality two decades ago, challenges with limited solutions and against great odds.
From China to South Sudan to Haiti and beyond, mothers giving birth to preterm babies have little time to worry about their babies' long term health and development -- they must first find a way to keep their babies warm enough to survive.
World Prematurity day presents an opportunity to learn more about this global crisis. Get the facts and spread the world. If we are to stop losing our children to premature birth, we need to acknowledge the scope and severity of the problem and start taking action.
Although India achieved a historic milestone with no new cases of polio, India still accounts for 24 percent of the world's 1.6 million annual deaths among children under five. This striking contrast begs the question: if polio can be defeated, why not early-childhood deaths?
A new study out today makes it clear that training and equipping health workers to care for preterm babies is the key to saving the 1.1 million such babies who die every year. That's because we still know very little about how to prevent babies from being born too soon.