Before having children, I had no idea World Prematurity Day existed. I didn’t know anyone who had been impacted by prematurity. I thought someone had to do something “wrong” in order for prematurity to happen. It was something I thought happened to other people.
Our family was impacted by prematurity when I gave birth to our twin boys at 24 weeks gestation in 2009. We lost our son, Campbell, after 23 days of life due to complications from prematurity. Our survivor twin, Joseph, just celebrated his seventh birthday.
Prematurity isn’t something that disappears when a family leaves the NICU. It is something they carry with them forever. Some children don’t leave the NICU at all. Some leave with little to no residual complications from prematurity. Some have extreme complications that will last their entire life.
Parents and extended family are forever impacted by prematurity. Their child’s birth didn’t happen as planned. Maybe they spent a week visiting their child in the NICU before coming home. Maybe they spent months and months visiting their child before coming home. Maybe they weren’t able to bring their child home at all. Prematurity impacts families physically and emotionally.
We are seven years out from the start of our NICU journey. There were many days in our NICU journey that I questioned if we would ever see one of our boys celebrate their seventh birthday.
Prematurity is forever a journey. I spent a long time being mad at prematurity. Mad that it happened. Mad that my son experiences complications from prematurity every single second of every day. I’ve learned how to turn the mad to gratitude.
Am I grateful prematurity happened? NO. I am grateful my son survived prematurity. I am grateful we had Campbell with us for 23 days. I am grateful for modern medicine. I am grateful for every little accomplishment. I am grateful for the research being done every day to save preemies. I am grateful for the doctors who care for Joseph. I am grateful for the teachers who work with him every single day. I am grateful for our families and for the support they have given us throughout this entire journey. I am grateful for all of the friends I have met along this journey. Without this journey, I would have never met them.
On this World Prematurity Day, we remember all of the babies that were lost to prematurity. We honor all of those who survived. We thank all of those who supported us on this journey of prematurity.