As much as I would like otherwise, prematurity has changed my life. And of course my daughter's: I don't know what kind of path she might have lead if born at term, but I almost certainly suspect it would have significantly less hospital based days, possibly no physio and maybe not being tube fed. I hope that in time, for Wriggles this all becomes "a thing of the past" but for me, it never will. My adult memory will always remember, always grieve and always think back to. Hopefully less as each year I enjoy her growing up and growing stronger, but I doubt I will ever be able to forget. I often wonder how much Wriggles will remember when she is older. How much she will be afraid. How much we will be still be involved with consultants.
Premature birth happens to one in 13 families. One in 13. That sounds a lot to me, in an age where we can fly to the moon, have robots clean our houses and clone cells. There is so much we can do and do well as a human race, but predict and prevent preterm birth is not one of them. 60,000 of those babies are born in the UK. Some babies will have no problems, some will have many and too sadly, some will not make it at all but rest in their parents' hearts as angels. Prematurity is a worldwide killer, in developed and developing worlds alike. One in 13 doesn't sound a number you can just brush off and pretend it might not happen to anyone you know. I bet we can all think of 13 friends or family members? Maybe your 13 haven't been affected, maybe your 13 have had several experiences of neonatal care and preterm birth.
Too often prematurity means nothing more than "small". Tiny fingers and tiny toes. Just a bit smaller, a bit weaker. If you speak to a parent of a prematurity baby or health professional they will tell you otherwise. Prematurity ramps up the risk factor for physical and cognitive problems, they have weaker lungs and immune systems even once they hit their term age. Prematurity can mean constant monitoring or treatment. Prematurity can mean fear, tears, grief, anxiety and mental unrest for families. I never imagined having a mental health issue after a premature baby but I did, and am not alone.
Check out Beadzoid's blog for some fabulous ideas on helping out, Bliss the special care baby charity, Tommy's and their latest research and the 24 weekers movie Kickstarter project. Premature birth should not happen in such devastating numbers in 2012. Help make a difference so that 2013 is a better year.
Join in the chat on Twitter tomorrow by tweeting from 1-2pm using the hashtag #BlissWPD