Today, Thursday the 17th November, is (drum roll please) the first-ever World Prematurity Day!!!
To highlight this very special day, March of Dimes (March of Dimes) and its global partners want to saturate the World Wide Web and show how widespread and prevalent the instances of babies born prematurely really are. More importantly and personally, they want to honor the 1 million babies worldwide who were born prematurely and who died this year as well as the 12 million more babies who are currently struggling to survive.
This speaks directly and loudly to my heart and I know it does too for many of you reading this right now, who are yourselves parents of preemies. See my ex-24 weeker above!
Please join us in this important endeavor to spread the word about prematurity by going to: WorldPrematurityDay FB Page and liking this campaign.
You can also tweet about it at: @marchofdimes. Get your family and friends to join you in spreading the word too! The more people, the higher we can raise the profile of prematurity.
Shockingly the United States has a higher rate of premature births than most other developed countries and this is one of the reasons we only have a score of C as a nation. To see how your state is faring as it relates to premature births, click on: this page
A World Prematurity Day is a fantastic and historic way to honor our little ones but, like me, so many of you reading this have your very own World Prematurity Day every day. Whether your child was born 20, 10, 5 years, months or weeks ago or they just entered this world on yesterday, prematurity and all of the effects of it can and does hit you pretty hard on every level of your being.
Even today, after 5 years since Alejandro made his surprise early entrance and took up long-term residence in the NICU, I still have flashback moments where I see him not being able to breathe, or of him constantly crashing and requiring re-intubation, of the multiple aggressive resuscitation attempts, and his multiple surgeries and infections. Flashbacks also include our seemingly endless wait to go home, which as the months slowly passed by, so did my hopes of this us ever bringing Alejandro home were passing by too.
Although remembering these moments sometimes causes me to internally freeze and panic for a minute or two, I don’t want these moments to ever completely fade away either, because there is something to be gained from their existence.
As the nation acknowledges and tries to increase the awareness of something many of us live with each and every day, I want us to shift our focus a few minutes from prematurity awareness to prematurity appreciation!
More specifically, I want to share with you some lifetime lessons my ex-preemie taught and is still teaching me about each day. I am sure many of these are lessons that some of you are being taught by your preemie and I am confident that you have a wealth of other lessons you’ve learned that aren’t highlighted here. I should note that these lessons can also be readily applied to those of us whose children have a range of special needs, whether they were born early or not.
I know that it can be hard to appreciate something that has literally knocked the wind out of you and your life as you knew it but appreciating it can oftentimes give you the power you need to overcome it. The invaluable lessons this appreciation brings are numerous.
What I Am Being Taught by My Preemie Every Day Is:
Simply hold on and hold on tight. Things (and you) will definitely get better
Getting back up when you get and are repeatedly getting knocked down
Embrace life with gusto – even when there appears to be no wind in your sail
When your joy comes from within, few things without (i.e. externally) can crush you
If you appreciate the craziness and chaotic-ness of it all, you are more likely to appreciate the calmer moments, even if they are only seconds.
Inquiry and Information :
All questions will lead you to some form of discovery about yourself, your child or your situation. Ask away!
Is your internal strength personified and is the ultimate tool for life because it gives a voice to the voiceless.
What are yourlessons from your preemie?
Be still and take notice of them. Jot them down as they come to the forefront of your mind and remember: the student who learns from adversity is the student who ultimately learns how to fly. I know you can (and will) fly!!!!
So, as we celebrate and honor preemies all around the world today, take a moment to celebrate and honor your
own and embrace the many lessons he/she is teaching you each day.