Prematurity. It's No Joke.

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.


Jennifer said...

I hope you'll write more about this subject. This was very well written and I'm certain hits home for too many people.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing about this - I can only imagine how hard it was for you to go home without your little man...
You know we enter pregnancy thinking that there's not much that can go wrong - or that we live in a society that can "fix" things so that everyone will go home happy and healthy and it's just too bad that isn't always the case.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to believe that itty bitty infant is Little Man with his great big blue eyes. He truly is a miracle!

Really nice post!

Cynthia said...

As a memeber of the NICU club, I hear you...It is a truly scary place filled with brave little babies.

Mary said...

I really can not even imagine what it must have been like to go through something like this.
It's a reminder that babies really are little miracles :)

ImpostorMom said...

I too would love to hear more. I can't imagine the strength it took to go through something like that. I have a friend that had twins at 27 weeks shortly after Boog was born. It was so hard for them but both babies are doing so well now and we are all so thankful.

CeeCee said...

This is the first time I've read your blog. I saw a comment you left on "playgroups are no place for children." I work for the March of Dimes.. I'm sure you know all about the work we do to help premature babies and to learn about the causes associated with it, having graduated from the NICU yourself - with a MOD Ambassador Family! (That little man smile is FANTASTIC! You can just tell that he's got something cooking... gonna be a handful!)

I don't mean to be cheesy, but your story is so heartwarming... so vivid and hopeful. I don't know if you're aware, but November is actually March of Dimes Prematurity Awareness Month. This year, we developed a scrapblog community called Every Baby Has A Story. It's a space to tell the story of your baby..to create a virtual scrapbook page.

If you have a chance, take a look. www.EveryBabyHasAStory.org. Thanks.. and I'm really glad I stumbled upon your blog..

Anonymous said...

we were lucky that Logan was only 6 weeks premature...he was only in the NICU for 8 days. but i remember how silent it was except for the occasional beep and alarm, which sent everyone racing.

Logan could cry, but he wasn't allowed to. his crying drained his energy so much that he didn't have enough energy to eat. as soon as he would would start to cry, he was wisked up into a nurse's arms to get him to stop. otherwise he would have to be fed through his NG tube again, which we were trying to get away from.

i remember watching the other babies in the NICU with Logan...he was so much better off...which didn't make it any less scary. but it was just so hard to see all of these babies, so tiny.

we continue to donate clothes, etc. to the Hospital where Logan was born. those nurses, those doctors...i have so much respect for what they do, and their ability to stay calm and strong for the parents.

justmylife said...

I am so glad your story has a happy ending, rather middle, because Little man has a long life ahead of him!!! Congratulations on a happy, healthy, crying bundle of joy!!!

Anonymous said...

I have a friend whose daughter was born 11 years ago at just 24 weeks. It is amazing she is alive today. Even though she had physical set backs, she is thriving and has become an amazing young lady!

Unknown said...

Talk about ambassador? You just did a great job of it yourself. Great post & the pic of you two is an Awww moment.

Al_Pal said...

This post definitely got me misty-eyed. Beautifully written, and congrats to the Big Guy's family on their Ambassadorship. ;D
A friend of mine participated in a MoD fundraiser a few months ago and I donated.

I read the story of the other [an other?] MoD 2008 family--amazing that the "firecracker" 5 year old girl was born at 16 weeks!!! (That story made me a bit misty, too!)

Love you guys. ♥

Heidi Hyde said...

Listen V- this was a great post. It was touching and informative- it took me right back to the NICU with Onion (who was only there for 2 weeks- but the longest of my life).

This was terrific. Like Jennifer, I hope you continue to write on this subject from time to time.


Victoria said...

Thank you everybody. You are all so sweet and I am very glad to have you in my bloggy life.

Cryssteen -- I have updated the post to reflect what a special month this is.

NW & HH -- I would love to hear some of your NICU stories as well.

It is truly a unifying experience which only those who have gone through it can fully understand.


Mrs. Flinger said...

We have such a similar story! We were lucky to walk away from the NICU after six days with a 5 pound, 6 oz baby boy who ate and great up to 2 oz a day the first few weeks. (He's huge now, by the way!) But we noticed it as well, the lack of crying... the silence.. the beeps. We knew what each beep meant and when each child needed assistance. It really is something you never wish on people to experience.

And yes, Baby O started screaming at his due date. We had a feeling that would happen. ;-)

Candace said...

great post. so well written and informative.
thanks for writing it.

Toni said...

Thanks for sharing...I am so glad everything worked out well for you and the little fella, who is a doll!

Serina Hope said...

Thanks for sharing this. It is wonderfully written.
I am so glad that everything worked out for you and Little Man.

dawn224 said...

I'm grateful that I don't understand it completely, and grateful that you show me how to understand the best I can.

Laura McIntyre said...

I think i have just teared up, although my oldest was not premature she had health problems and spent the first 4 weeks in the hospital , she was unable to cry. Its a horrible experience not being able to leave the hospital with your child

Heather said...

What a great post!

I'm glad Little Man is doing so well. Here's wishes for all of the premie babies to do as well as he did!

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