We entered the world of prematurity just over six years ago. Before giving birth to twin boys at 24 weeks gestation, prematurity was a world I was completely unaware of. While I knew that babies were born early, I had never known of this happening to anyone until I found myself giving birth 16 weeks early.
World Prematurity Day falls at an interesting time for our family. It is between the birth day of our twin boys and the anniversary of the day we lost one of our twins due to complications from his extreme prematurity. It is also close to Thanksgiving – a day where we celebrate all we are thankful for.
Prematurity has had a drastic impact on my life – in ways that I’m still discovering six years into our journey. Prematurity happened without warning. There were no complications during pregnancy, our babies were healthy in utero, I took care of myself while pregnant and before getting pregnant – I thought I did everything “right.” From the time of the first labor pain until I gave birth was a mere seven hours.
Prematurity came out of nowhere for our family.
Every day, I wish a cause for prematurity would be discovered. I wish it could be prevented. I wish it could be stopped. I wish it was known what causes prematurity. I wish every single day that prematurity could be stopped.
But it hasn’t. Maybe one day there will be an end to prematurity.
Every day, I wish my son, Joseph, didn’t have to live with his complications from prematurity. He wasn’t one of the kids who left the NICU without any complications. His complications have only continued to grow and become more complicated as he gets older. Every day, I wish he didn’t have to be fed by a feeding tube. Every day, I wish he didn’t have to take medications to support his weak lung function and to ease the complications from short bowel syndrome. Every day, I wish he could be in a class of typically developing six year olds. Every day, I wish his life didn’t have to be so hard.
Every day, I wish our son, Campbell, had not lost his battle with prematurity. I wish there was some way he could have been saved. I wish his short 23 days on this earth had not been filled with tubes and wires and machines to keep him alive. I wish he had been able to experience life. Every day, I wonder what he would have loved to do and what he would look like now.
Every day, I am thankful. I am thankful for the modern medicine that allowed Joseph to survive. I am thankful that modern medicine gave us 23 days with Campbell. I am thankful we live in a time where those born early do have a chance at life.
I am thankful for the medication to help keep Joseph’s lungs strong. I am thankful for the feeding tube to keep him healthy. I am thankful for the research that is being performed to help preemies like him have a chance at life – a chance at life filled with love and happiness.
While I wish every day that Joseph and Campbell had not been born early, I am thankful for the people I have met along this journey. The journey of prematurity has allowed me to connect with and meet wonderful people – people who are passionate about prematurity and the effect it has on families, people who are kind and giving, people full of love for those born early.
On World Prematurity Day, I remember all of those impacted by prematurity. I remember the moms and dads who had to say ‘goodbye’ far too early to their child. I remember the moms and dads who give tirelessly to their preemie every minute of the day to help them have every possibility in life. I remember the babies gone too soon from their family. I remember the babies who overcame the odds that were stacked against them from prematurity.
Because of prematurity, we are forever changed.
Are you interested in sharing your story of prematurity with the Graham’s Foundation community? Please email Laura (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.