World Prematurity Day
The entire month of November is dedicated to preemies. Preterm birth is the number one killer of young children and this month is dedicated to the remembrance of those lost, as well as to those who have survived; survivors who are struggling as well as those who are thriving.
More than 1 in 10 babies born each year are born much earlier than they’re supposed to. A baby is considered premature before the 37 week mark, but many of them are born much, much earlier than that.
In our case we made it to 31.4 weeks when we welcomed our two tiny, but strong little baby girls into the world.
I can still remember every moment; when my contractions started without me wanting to believe that they were contractions, the ambulance ride down to Toronto to deliver my preterm babies because my local hospital couldn’t until the 32 week mark, the epidural slowing my contractions and then starting right back up again once the nurse lowered my dosage.
I remember being wheeled into the operating room and giving birth to Zoey; pushing for what felt like an hour and holding her as soon as she entered the world. I remember how many doses it took the anesthesiologists to numb me for my emergency c-section to get Ella out. I have vivid memories of her being rushed away by the nurses because she was barely breathing when she was born.
I also remember seeing and holding my three pound babies for the very first time; connected to tubes and wires, so tiny and fragile and all I wanted to do was hold on tight and never let go.
They spent over five weeks between two different NICU’s before coming home. That was two-and-a-half-years-ago and it still makes my heart ache and puts my stomach in knots thinking about how my girls’ entry into this world was a very far cry from ‘text book.’
And after all of that, they’re thriving.
They grow stronger everyday, in body and especially in mind. Toddlers definitely have an opinion about everything and let it be known.
I celebrate their triumphs and help them overcome any bumps in the road on a daily basis, but on November 17th each year I reflect on just how far they’ve come. So many milestones and changes have happened this year. It makes me emotional when I realize that our babies are growing up faster than I could have ever imagined.
Although the frequency of their monitoring session have lessened, the girls have continued with their early interventionist to ensure that they’re development is on the right track. We’ve even had a few speech therapy sessions and a hearing screening to make sure that all is well.
They’ve gone from learning one word to combining five or six of them into a sentence. Not only speaking the words but singing songs back to me every chance they get, all while spinning and dancing around the room.
We’ve gone from relying whole heartedly on the reflux-fighting Dr. Brown’s bottles to drinking milk from your run-of-the-mill sippy cups.
The girls have graduated into big girl beds and are almost completely potty trained now.
You can see why I get a little choked up just thinking about how far my 31.4 week babies have come in just a couple of short years.
They’re still little when it comes to their weight. Being born at just over 3-pounds, gaining weight has always been an uphill battle. They’re now tipping the scales at 23-pounds each and that’s just fine with me…especially because I know how much they eat and believe me, it’s enough.
I’m thankful for all of the support our girls have received. From the incredible nurses and doctors, to their early interventionist who has always given us sound advice, to our family and friends.
It hasn’t been an easy road, there’s definitely been a few bumps along the way, especially right out of the gate. And as I mentioned earlier, we are not alone. 1 in 10 families go through the same battles that we have and many face even more bumps along the way.
But preemies are fighters; they’re the smallest yet strongest people that I’ve met. As the saying goes: “Though I be but Little, I be Fierce” …and that they are.