I watched my preemies sleeping last night, curled up together in the back of the car as we travelled home from a long day in London; M with his head on G’s lap and her arm clasped firmly round him holding him close. The image was not too dissimilar to a photo we have from not long after M had been born – with my eldest baby cuddling her very new brother, a protective arm surrounding him then, just as now. They are fast growing up and there’s little left to remind us of their early arrivals in life.
We were lucky; we are lucky that our premature babies have grown into determined young people, not letting their early starts stand in the way of anything. Some families are not so lucky.
Every year an estimated 15 million babies are born worldwide before 37 completed weeks gestation, with more than 60,000 of those being born in the UK. Premature birth is the leading cause of newborn deaths, the second biggest cause of death in children under 5 and can cause on-going health problems affecting the brain, lungs, hearing or vision. Premature birth takes an emotional toll on the family as they come to terms with a new reality and can cause huge financial strain as parents may have to give up work to spend time in hospital caring for their child.
Today is World Prematurity Day and I am the proud parent of 2 preemies.