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Was Your Baby Premature? – Learn the Risks

Did you know that Preemie Awareness Day is November 17th each year?… I think that it’s amazing that we set aside a day for this – to help educate people about healthy pregnancy tips, why it’s so important to bring babies to full term, and the dangers that preemies can face once they arrive. My own little girl, Abby, was born 3 weeks early – a big surprise, since everything had been going just fine until then. She had a really traumatic delivery – they’re not exactly sure what went wrong. Her oxygen levels dropped, so I had to wear an oxygen mask to help. Her blood pressure dropped, and everything suddenly started spiraling downhill. The NICU team was called into the room, to stand by for her arrival…

Preemie babies and the risksWhen she was finally here – we thought that she was stillborn. She was white as a sheet, not moving, not making a single sound. I wasn’t sure what was going on, and was so exhausted from delivery. But as I saw the look on her daddy’s face – I knew that things were very bad. The NICU team gave me a quick glance at her – and then whisked her away to their department two floors down. It all happened so fast – and suddenly the overcrowded room was completely empty. My mom was making phone calls in the hall, the doctors rushed to take care of my new baby, and Mike followed them to the NICU to monitor little Abby.

Still Don’t Know What’s Wrong…

Mike finally came back to the room, followed by my mother and our doctor. Nothing they had to say was good… They were talking about possible blood transfusions, surgeries, and other scary stuff. But they did tell me that I could finally come down and see Abby… They put me in a wheelchair, and brought me down to where she was hooked up to loads of tubes and wires in a tiny little NICU bed. We weren’t even allowed to hold her, or even caress her – only to lightly place our hands on her little hands, and sit with her for awhile. Broke my heart. And we still didn’t really know what was wrong.

Worst Moment of My Life…

After going back to our room, I requested that someone – anyone – come visit with us and tell us what was happening. I remember it vividly – the doctor, one I’d never met, started reading us information from Abby’s charts, lots of medical terms and jargon I didn’t understand. I finally interrupted, and asked – “Ok, bottom line – it’s not like she’s going to die or something, right? So what’s the worst case that we’re looking at here?” A very long pause, and then she said, “Well, at this time we’re not sure that she’ll make it through the night. We’ll know more by morning. If she makes it that long, then things will be looking much better….” I didn’t hear anything she said after that. As she left the room, I broke down in the most emotional tears I have ever shed. I had barely even met this little girl – how could it be possible that I could lose her already?

preemie is now a healthy toddlerLuckily this story has a happy ending. Abby did of course make it through the night. The second day, I was finally allowed to hold her. She spent 5 days in NICU, and another couple of days in the pediatrics department. But she made rapid improvement each day, and after that week, we were able to take her home, with no problems. And she’s now a very grown up two year old. We were lucky that while she did have a really rough start, she didn’t suffer from a lot of the problems that many premature babies face.

RSV InfographicWhat is RSV? Learn more about this extremely common and contagious virus – and why it is more dangerous for preemies than for other babies. Did you know…

  • 13 Million babies are born early every year? And 75% of parents aren’t aware of the definition of prematurity – being born earlier than 37 weeks. Many moms push for planned C-Sections, and sometimes ask to have them a week or two early. But this is never a good idea in a healthy pregnancy.
  • Being born premature, even by a week or two, disrupts development in the womb, and often stunts growth in the baby’s critical organs. That’s why in a high-risk pregnancy, doctors value even a few extra days of holding off labor.
  • Babies born early are at increased risk of serious medical complications, and often spend weeks or months in the NICU. Since their immune system and lungs aren’t developed fully, they’re at risk of infections and respiratory problems. In fact, 79% of preemie moms had their babies hospitalized due to these infections.
  • One infection in particular that is a major cause for concern is RSV {which stands for Respiratory Syncytial Virus} – which kills 10 times more infants than the flu. Almost all kids get this virus by age two, but most have minor sympoms – similar to a common cold. In preemie infants though, it can be deadly.

Scary stuff, huh? That’s why Prematurity Awareness Day was started – to help spread the word about the dangers, including how to help prevent RSV, since there no treatment options available once infected. You can learn more about this virus, and get other great support on RSVProtection.com. But the basic precautions are similar to preventing the spread of colds and flu – wash your hands often, stay away from people who are sick, keep your baby away from crowded areas if possible, and wash bedding and toys after family members have been sick. If you’re preemie does get sick, watch for warning signs like severe cough with wheezing and gasping, blue color on the lips, mouth, or under fingernails. high fever, and extreme fatigue. These are definite signs to contact your doctor right away.

Spread the word

Be sure to spead the word about this virus to to other moms that you know – Just like we have a flu season, there’s a similar season for RSV – from November to mid March. Use the box below to easily tweet out the message – and hopefully together we can help keep more of those millions of babies born early each year safer this holiday season!

 

{Disclaimer: I wrote this review while participating in a campaign for Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MedImmune and I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.}

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Comments

  1. As a mommy the story of your delivery just TUGS at my heart–oh I can only imagine! I also had a very had/traumatic delivery with Amber but *I* had more problems during it than she did-and for that I am very grateful!! Also knowing about RSV is so important! My little guy wasn’t pre-mature but ended up being lifeflighted to Boston’s Primary Children’s Hospital last year because he had RSV and I had one of those very scary “please tell me everything is going to be alright” conversations where a Dr. told me they couldn’t say that–nothing is more horrifying! So happy to see that they’re doing a blog campaign to spread the word because I hadn’t ever heard of it before Tyler was in the ICU!

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