It’s probably Toe Fungus Awareness Month, too

Well, friends, we’ve nearly reached the end of NaBloPoMo, but we’re also nearing the end of another “National Month of” — Prematurity Awareness Month.

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It seems like a funny thing to promote awareness of—if you have a preemie or know one, you’re aware of it. And if not, what do you need to be aware of?

Plenty.

We can all be aware of that one in eight children are born prematurely, even to those women with low-risk pregnancies and excellent prenatal care.

We can be aware that premature labor can happen to any pregnant woman at any time.

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We can be aware that the economic costs—costs we all share through our insurance premiums—are staggering, with pre-term births costing more than $26 billion a year, or approximately $51,000 per baby. (My million-dollar baby hit $51,000 in expenses just within the first few days of his hospital stay—at one hospital.)

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And we can be aware that researchers working to solve so many of the mysteries of pre-term labor are supported in large part by private donations.

Today I look at my healthy 17-month-old boy born at 36 weeks, barely an official “preemie” at all and now hitting so many of his developmental milestones on time or ahead of schedule, and I hardly feel like I have a place in the preemie parenting world. It is a world in which some truly amazing former preemies are thriving despite the feeding challenges, developmental delays, vision problems, mobility impairments or other lingering side effects of prematurity.

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But then I look back on the extraordinary life-saving therapies Henry received, some that even a baby born half his size might never need, and I know that I have earned my preemie parent stripes in the trenches like any other NICU parent, even if our time there was far shorter than for some.

 

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I know that I don’t wish it on any other parent and would do anything I could to help another family avoid this. And I’m so grateful for the combination of expert neonatal clinicians and the generations of medical research that, together, allowed us to bring our baby home.

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Click here to learn more about the March of Dimes and their Take Action campaign.

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And then go find a NICU nurse or doctor and give them a hug for me.

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20 Responses to “It’s probably Toe Fungus Awareness Month, too”

  1. Dawnomite! Says:

    that’s just very touching. thank you for sharing it all.

  2. itsallabouthallie Says:

    aww what amazing photos you have! I remember my three weeks in the NICU! the twins were 32 weekers! tiny ones! I love your pictures! It is amazing what they can do for little ones these days! You would never know mine were under four pounds at one time!! I love what you have shared!! Congrads to getting to the end of the month!! yeah!!

  3. Stephanie Says:

    Aw, what a sweet little guy you have. And I absolutely love the Yale blankie.

  4. Maggie Says:

    What a touching post! Congrats to you and Henry on his excellent graduation from the NICU!

  5. Chelle Says:

    I had the privilege of sitting next to this “preemie” during lunch today… He is as cute as a button and quite the well behaved little man.

    Yeah, Henry!

    😉

  6. La Says:

    My fiance was a preemie, so they hold a special place in my heart. And I can never get enough pictures of babies. Sigh…

  7. mikesgotnothin Says:

    This topic, to me, is one of your best. The emotion is in the words. Good stuff.

  8. Maya Says:

    Those are some amazing pictures. I have such a respect for families of preemies and those that care for them. We’ve seen many of our friends have preemies and we’re so thankful for the care they’ve received. Thanks for raising this up!

  9. amy Flood Says:

    you can also make a donation to your local hospital’s NICU, many are overcrowded and desperately in need of more space. our bill for the twins was about $250,000 and that was only for 3 weeks and they needed minimal care, they call them grower/feeders. mostly they just needed to get bigger. of course i would have paid twice that! thankfully i didn’t have to!

  10. cdp Says:

    This was a lovely post. And what gorgeous pictures! I especially like the b&w of the hands. Beautiful.

    I agree that this something we all can and should be aware of.

    Have a great weekend!

  11. Clink Says:

    Such a lovely post, Anna. And such a delicious child. (I know! I say it all the time about your kids but my god! Whenever I see photos of them my ovaries are all “CUTE, EH?? MAKES YOU KINDA WANT ONE, EH??”)

  12. Laura Says:

    in my humble opinion, one day in the NICU is one day too many.
    i love my job. i love what i do. still what i wouldn’t give to wake up one day and find that a NICU RN is obsolete.
    thanks!
    great post.

  13. Christina Says:

    You certainly have earned your premie parenting stripes! Thank God Henry is the thriving, healthy boy he is today…those first weeks, my goodness so scary. Such a touching post. And your pictures – awesome. Did I ever tell you Nadia was technically a premie by one day? no problems though.

  14. Anna Says:

    I had no idea she was so early! Thank goodness no problems! We learned that boys are often much slower to gain lung maturity than girls–of course!

  15. abby Says:

    Great post….Being all too aware of prematurity, I am chagrined to note that I failed to blog about it this past month (though doing so was my intention).

    And in addition to giving money to NICUs and March of Dimes, consider giving them extra preemie clothing for the kids who have none or whose parents don’t have money to buy it for them on the web (it’s impossible to find clothing that fits the 1-3 pounder in Babys-r-Us and the like); gliders and rockers when you are done with them so that parents have place to kangaroo their kids and something relatively comfy to sit in (we’d give ours up, but I’m pretty sure that Hallie turned it into a biohazard), and blankets and the like to cover the isolettes.

  16. Stacy Says:

    That’s a great post Anna. Seeing your pictures and your sweet little baby puts it all into focus. I regularly donate to the March of Dimes and hope that their research can find a reason for premature births.

  17. Anna Says:

    Thank you Stacy!

  18. arizaphale Says:

    Desperately trying to catch up on blog reading since the frantic last weeks of school. This, as I’m sure you’re aware, was a great post. The last four photos in particular struck me. How many babes must go through their hands anad how many lives and families do they positively influence? What a wonderful job they do.

  19. shana Says:

    hey i am shana i want to b a Nicu Nurse one day i jus love babies and those babies in the pic look so cute. i would like to say congrats to the parents for doin a good job for what they had done. The nicu is the one true place for me to spend the rest for my life in. i really and truly want to fulfill my dreams

  20. Something as simple as breathing « Hank & Willie Says:

    […] if you just think my Henry is a tough […]

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