Premature Thanks

premature_baby_NICU

November 17th was World Prematurity Day, which always reminds me how thankful I am that my preemie (N was born at 34 weeks) has grown into a healthy and happy toddler.  Our experience with his premature birth, from my preterm labor to the NICU stay to the apnea monitor to the Early Intervention, taught us more than I could have imagined as someone who already thought I knew a lot about premature babies from my medical experiences.  However, being the parent of a preemie was a completely different experience than being the doctor of a preemie.  Now that we are beyond that experience, I can say it made me a better mom and pediatrician, but during the experience I was terrified.

I remember once as a resident in the NICU I overheard a mother whispering to her extremely premature baby, “I wish I could have kept you inside longer.”  At the time, I thought this was a very sad exchange and thought of course it isn’t her fault.  About a year later, I found myself saying the same thing to my baby.  I held him skin-to-skin on my chest everyday and wished that he was still inside, protected and safe.  I questioned why he had been born early– was it my fault?  How would things have been different if he had stayed inside longer?  I will never have answers to these questions, but they haunted me during my second pregnancy.

After having a 34-week birth, I am happy to report that my second pregnancy went to 40+ weeks and we did not have to see the NICU team again.  I am forever grateful to everyone involved in helping N during those early days/weeks/months and supporting G’s pregnancy to term.  I am also in a place where I can forgive myself for whatever role I played in N’s prematurity and accept it for what it was.  For 34 weeks I gave him the healthiest environment I could and for the rest of his life I will do the same, with all the love in the world.  So, this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my two healthy children and hoping that there are more and more mothers able to say the same.

 

Courtesy of March of Dimes, retrieved November 19, 2013 from http://www.marchofdimes.com/mission/prematurity-infographic.aspx.
Courtesy of March of Dimes, retrieved November 19, 2013 from http://www.marchofdimes.com/mission/prematurity-infographic.aspx.

For more information about the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and the health of premature babies:  http://www.chop.edu/healthinfo/the-neonatal-intensive-care-unit-nicu.html

To donate to the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at CHOP: http://giving.chop.edu/site/PageServer?pagename=Support_Fetal

To donate to the March of Dimes World Prematurity Day:  http://www.marchofdimes.com/mission/world-prematurity-day.aspx

{Disclosure:  I have no affiliation with March of Dimes.}

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2 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your experience! My son spent the first three weeks in the NICU, he was born at 35 weeks due to IUGR. For a while I wondered what did I do to make that happen, I was probably one of the most cautious pregnant people on the planet. It just goes to show that sometimes things are out of our control and we need to take the lessons learned from adversity to make us stronger and be grateful for what we have.

    I’m glad to see that you went on to have a full term second pregnancy, that’s what I’m hoping for as well!

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