I didn't 'miss' Prematurity Awareness Day on Saturday, I just wasn't able to get to my computer. But, as usual, I always have something to say. :) (You can click on previous years for my other musings on the day: 2009, 2010, 2011)
For a lot of people, November 17, 2012, would be just another day. Wake up, do what you do, go to bed... Rinse, repeat... But for those of us who have had a premature baby (or 5...), World Prematurity Day is a day to remember, to educate, and to hope- to hope that, one day, 1 in 8 babies won't come too soon. To hope that, one day, prematurity will be sorrow of the past and that every child will get a full term delivery. It's a day to petition our governments to fund research into premature labor, and to raise public awareness of the importance of NICUs that can help the youngest of babies.
It's a bittersweet time for me. Prematurity, at its core, is bittersweet but, for us, this is a time of year that brings out so many emotions. Four years ago, we were struggling to hold onto Alexander, begging for one more hour, one more day... Pleading for his little life and, tearfully, holding him as he slipped from this world into the next. Three years ago, we were bringing Bobby home, followed shortly thereafter by bringing Maya home, from a 9 week NICU stay, a stay that saved their lives. I'm grateful that, even at 27 weeks, our youngest children were able to have a fighting chance and that, 3+ years later, they are still fighting the good fight. But for our 3 oldest children, their fight was a short one that ended because of their prematurity. There's no one to blame, but there is a common evil to fight. The battle against prematurity is one that we can win, and one that we, as a nation and as a world, should take up arms against.
Most people still have the preconceived notion that premature babies are the result of poor prenatal care, bad maternal behavior, drug use, etc. Regardless of the reason, the baby is not to blame for negative choices that result in prematurity, and for them, we must seek and fine answers. But it's not just about those babies. There are plenty of children born to mothers who did everything in their power to go the full forty. Mothers who took their prenatal and made their appointments, who lived healthy lifestyles, who tried and hoped and prayed, and who either comforted their babies behind the walls of incubtators or buried them beneath their tears.
One in 8 is too high. Truth be told, 1 in 1 million would be too high. Perhaps we wont be able to conquor this beast today or next year or in the next 1000 years. But we have to try. We owe it to every child who has died, to every child who has struggled, to every parent who knows the cost of prematurity- those who brought babies home and those who didnt- to keep looking and to keep fighting for an end.