Tag Archives: premature birth

World Prematurity Day 2017

Another year passed and another chance to mark World Prematurity Day. It’s hard to believe that my preemies have gone from this…

to this….

Determined to win their fight every single day!

World Prematurity Day 2016

43a5b1be37a6689952d3a3113eaa551dI 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.


Early arrivals

efcniToday, November 17th, is World Prematurity Day. A day that acknowledges the early arrival of 15 million babies across the world every year, a statistic that increases annually. Pre-term births are defined as “babies born alive before 37 weeks of pregnancy are completed”, but…

What do you think of when you think of a premature baby?

You might recall images of micro-preemies, those babies born so early and so small that they can be cradled in the palm of their parents’ hands. You might think of babies covered with tubes and wires, enclosed in incubators or even tucked into supermarket sandwich bags to help keep them warm enough to survive. You might know of the risks associated with an early arrival and how hard the doctors, nurses and parents fight, with every inch of their being, to get those babies through another day and another long night. You may even have survived the weeks of hoping to get “just one more” week through your pregnancy, knowing that every single hour counts.

The thing is that preemie babies come in all shapes and sizes; the reasons for their early arrival are many and varied; and every family has a similar, but also hugely different story to tell. Each parent and child has their own individual challenges to face and yet premature birth is a common bond that links them all. Let me introduce you to 3 special preemies, each with a unique set of circumstances and a shared experience marking their arrival  :

20131118_191134Of course, you’ve already met the first one: G just crept into the premature category, arriving at 36+6 nearly 12 years ago and weighing an extremely respectable 8lbs. Her delivery was the result of fears about my T1D and the signs that my placenta was beginning to fail, so the doctors made the decision to deliver her to ensure she had the best start in life. Even though she had an initial problem with plummeting blood sugars, G’s stay in SCBU (Special Care Baby Unit) was short at just 3 days and thanks to the wonderfully supportive nurses on the High Dependency ward who looked after us both, Mike, G and I were able to come home a week after she was born and spent our first family Christmas together at home.

M was even more impatient to arrive than his big sister, although his birth weight of 5lbs 12.5oz at 33+1 gestation was equally impressive. M spent his first few days on NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), although there were times we felt something of a fraud, especially compared to the tiny 26-weeker 2 cribs along, who had been born at exactly 5lbs less than him. We had been warned from the moment I was first admitted at 26 weeks pregnant that once he arrived, M would almost inevitably need to stay in hospital until he reached his due date. It is of great credit to the dedicated doctors and nurses who looked after him that we were, in fact, able to bring him home after just 3.5 weeks and in perfect time for Mothers’ Day.

10329684_10152507367497848_7913075952615166607_oAnd this tiny, but beautiful fighter is B, the second son of our close friends and M’s godparents, L and C. Due to fetal distress resulting from pre-eclampsia, B was born at 27+2, weighing just 1lb 9oz and has had a very different battle so far than either G or M. He had suspected NEC (Necrotising Enterocolitis) in hospital and for a week things were very touch and go. Despite this rocky beginning, B is an incredible battler and even though he came home on oxygen after a long 98 days in hospital, 5 weeks later he had been successfully weaned off that too. 18 months on, he is a happy, loving little boy, who may be on the small side for his age, but is otherwise doing well and I know that his parents, just like us, will be forever grateful to those medics who have helped B fight and win.

image_for_happy_world_prematurity_day_5715493946These 3 precious bundles may not have had the easiest start in their lives, but we are lucky that they have each survived and become an irreplaceable part of our families. With a national health service that is in crisis, the neonatal units where G, M and B and thousands like them are cared for on a daily basis are seriously overstretched and understaffed. These children need an incredible level of specialist care to help them make it through those critical first few days and weeks of life and the doctors and nurses who give it are simply amazing as they offer not just medical care to the babies, but emotional support to the whole family. That is a gift that cannot be easily replaced and we know that we were extremely fortunate to be able to receive it.

World Prematurity Day 2014

premdayHow time flies.  A year ago I discovered – a day late – that November 17th marks World Prematurity Day; this year I’ve contributed to an event that will help bring awareness to this occasion.  During the year I have joined a FB group that is dedicated to those babies who spent time in our local NICU and the stories of their survival against all odds are amazing to read.  This morning, the support network run there for NICU parents, held a coffee morning for those currently living on the unit, which was accompanied by a board displaying photos of past NICU graduates, including G and M.  The request was for “Then and Now” photos to share on the corridors of the unit to celebrate how far they have come and to give hope to those starting their journey.


The statistics are staggering.  Around 15 million babies will be born prematurely around the world this year, 60,000 of those in the UK.  In your average classroom of 30, there are likely to be 3 young people who arrived earlier than expected, some of whom will have slipped into a different year group and are now amongst the youngest in their year, rather than one of the oldest.  In one way or another, these youngsters will have challenged the doctors and nursing staff who dedicate their lives to caring for preemies, continued to strive to grow and succeed and will go on to do much bigger and better things than was ever imagined at the start.

Mike and I will be forever grateful for the amazing care that was given to both G and M during their time on NICU and feel privileged to have met such wonderful, caring medical staff whilst we were there.


They’ve come so far since their NICU days


Celebrating tiny lives

I’ve discovered this weekend that blog posts are a bit like buses.  You wait ages for an idea to come along and then suddenly you get 2 or 3 at once.  Having dipped into a mild panic that I had nothing useful, or interesting, or witty, or, indeed, anything at all to write about this week, suddenly I was overwhelmed with a plethora of possibilities all at the same time. Despite the temptation to write manically today, I’ve decided to pace myself and keep them as separate pieces and feel confident that I can keep myself, and hopefully you, entertained for a little while longer.


Unbeknown to me, yesterday, November 17th, was World Prematurity Day.  This day seeks to raise awareness of the 60,000 babies who will be born prematurely in the UK this year. Every premature arrival is fraught with panic and anxiety, no matter what the outcome.  The new parents are left in a state of panic as they prepare for the arrival of a much loved child and wonder what new challenges they will face in the days, weeks, months and even years to come.

Both of our children were born prematurely.


G is our “technical” preemie.  She arrived just over 3 weeks ahead of her time, evidently anxious to celebrate Christmas as soon as she could. thereby just about falling into the premature category.  She was a healthy 8lbs and was born after a relatively easy c-section – oh and 2 days of induced labour, which was not so relaxed.  She was able to stay with me in the recovery room for about an hour after birth before her blood sugar levels dropped and she was carted off to SCBU (Special Care Baby Unit) for monitoring.  Two days later, she was stable enough to be back on the maternity ward with me and within a week, we were back home as a new family of 3.  As I’ve said before, my pregnancy with G was relatively smooth, my T1D (diabetes) was well-managed and we had no real concerns about her health whilst she was on SCBU. Despite the sudden decision to deliver her ahead of schedule due to some possible problems with my placenta, G was a healthy and happy baby.

222128_10151146504756123_1412552440_n     20131118_191352

In comparison, M came crashing into our world after 7 very tempestuous months and with an accompanying birth story that still causes shivers to gallop down my spine.  He was not dangerously small, an extremely healthy 5lbs 12.5oz at 7 weeks premature, but he wasn’t breathing when born and was whisked off almost immediately to NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care).  I have no clear memories of M’s birth other than the fear that pierced my wandering consciousness as the doctors resuscitated him and the look on Mike’s face as he rushed off to NICU with M, trusting my recovery to the medical staff in theatre.

In both cases, it is thanks to the hard work and support of the dedicated staff in SCBU and NICU that we came home confident that we could care for our preemies.  Against the odds, M was discharged just 3 weeks after his birth and a full month ahead of what everyone had expected.  We spent time on ward with parents whose children had arrived even earlier, were born even smaller and were struggling even more.  Of course there were moments of extreme heartache, but the staff were relentless in their determination to give our preemies the best start in life they could have and made every moment of a difficult time, just a little more bearable.

So, I’m proud to be Mum to 2 preemies who are growing up fast and to be marking their safe arrival into our family’s world.  This blog post may be a day late in celebrating tiny lives, but let’s face it, it’s about the only thing that’s come late when you think about our terrible two.