This article made me cry big, globby tears yesterday. It is truly shocking and sad that in our rich, developed nation we have a major metropolitan area such as Memphis with an infant death rate of 15 per 1,000 births.
The majority of these deaths are due to prematurity and low birth weight.
This paragraph, at the beginning of the article, really hit home for me:
It takes a while for something much sadder to occur to you: In a room full of newborns, dozens of them, there is no crying. The sound of beeping heart monitors, the rustle and murmur of observing doctors, but no crying.
“They’re too small and too sick to cry,” explains a passing nurse.
When Little Man was in the NICU, he rarely ever cried. One nurse called him a "really mellow fellow."
Preemies just don't have the energy to cry. They need to save everything they've got to help build their bodies stronger, repair any damage that was caused by coming out of the oven under cooked, and gain weight.
We weren't convinced that our son was just super mellow. We had heard from friends with preemie twins to enjoy the pre-40 weeks stage, since all they do is sleep. Once the preemies hit full term (their due date), all bets are off.
That was the case with our Little Man. Once we hit the end of February, it was all sirens blazing. Hungry? Tired? Wet diaper? How about we SCREAM to get our needs met? Sounds good, right?
It was still shocking to see such an immediate change in our son. We knew it was possible that he would become "more alive" but seeing is believing. It was great to know that he was getting stronger, and bigger by the day.
When Little Man left the hospital at four weeks old (just past 36 weeks adjusted age), he weighed six pounds six ounces. The next day at the pediatrician, after his first full day of on-demand feeding, he had gained three ounces. He would continue to gain over an ounce a day throughout his fourth month, despite having acid reflux.
You can imagine that there was a lot of nursing and a lot of spitting up going on.
Articles like this one make me feel so lucky that we came out of our premature birth and NICU stay relatively unscathed. It is a reminder of how much still needs to be done to ensure every baby gets a fighting chance at life.
I wish that no other families would have to learn to ignore the constant beeps of heart and oxygen monitors. I wish that more babies could go home from the hospital with their parents. I wish more babies would be born healthy, and sometime after 37 weeks.
Until my wishes can become reality, please support the March of Dimes continue their fight against prematurity.
November is March of Dimes Prematurity Awareness Month.
Congratulations to Crackers #6, 7 & 8, our NICU roommates, for becoming one of the March of Dimes's Ambassador Families for 2008. #8 (the Big Guy) was born at 27 weeks gestation. He is truly an amazing baby, with truly amazing and wonderful parents.