Today is World Prematurity Day. The whole month of November is Prematurity Awareness Month, something the March of Dimes is really involved with. March of Dimes encourages bloggers to talk about their story through their blog on World Prematurity Day in order to spread awareness.
Before this pregnancy I never even considered the idea of having a preemie. I knew it could happen and you always seem to hear about it but it's one of those "it won't happen to me" things. Well it happened to me. Before having Cameron I had no idea how many babies are born preterm, how early they can survive, and why babies are born early. I knew absolutely nothing about it.
As far as how common it is, the numbers are shocking. About 12% of babies in the United States are born preterm. That's 1 out of 8. Most of the time these are late preterm births (34-36 weeks). I'm definitely in the minority delivering at 26.
There's a million reasons why babies are born early. Unfortunately, no one knows why most of them happen or how to stop any of it. There's pre-eclampsia, HELLP, placental abruption, IUGR, PPROM, infection, IC, and the list goes on. That's way more pregnancy complications than I care to know about. My issue was IC or incompetent cervix. Basically there was nothing wrong with the pregnancy at all. Cameron was perfect, I was healthy, it was just the simple fact that my cervix isn't strong enough to hold a baby in. IC usually presents itself as the baby starts to get heavier in the mid to late 2nd trimester. Many people lose their first pregnancy from IC at around 18-22 weeks before they even know they have IC. We were extremely fortunate to find it before the imminent early labor and to carry to a viable point. Sadly, this isn't a one time thing, it will more than likely happen in any other pregnancy. There are things they can do to try and prevent it (cerclage) but the results vary.
I'm completely amazed at how early a baby can survive. Cameron was more than three months early, I wasn't even two thirds of the way through my pregnancy when I delivered. I was still in my second trimester. It just sounds so crazy to me. And the even crazier thing is that babies can survive weeks earlier than she was born. It makes you wonder if one day women won't even need to get pregnant, if everyone's babies will be conceived in a lab and grow in an incubator for 9 months. But we are blessed. Cameron has done amazingly well for a 26 weeker. We've had small issues here and there but nothing compared to the magnitude of problems that some 26 weekers experience.
Our story is nowhere near finished. We aren't even out of the NICU yet. One thing I do know is it doesn't end there. We will deal with the effects of prematurity for a long time to come. Cameron will be monitored by the state of Ohio's Help Me Grow program for developmental delays. If there are delays present she will be seen by therapists to help her catch up. She has officially been diagnosed with respiratory distress syndrome which will have lasting effects for years whether it be in the form of asthma or hospitalizations for what would be a simple cold in a normal baby. There will be ophthalmologist appointments to monitor for retinopathy of prematurity, possible surgery if her PDA doesn't close, we will be quarantined for the first winters unable to see much of our family, synagis vaccinations to prevent RSV, feeding problems etc. Most of these things normal people are completely unfamiliar with but they have become common topics around here. I guess I always thought people have premature babies and then once they hit 8 pounds they are just fine. I really didn't know there would be lasting effects. Luckily in our day, most of the effects are fairly manageable but still things that parents don't want to have to worry about. We will take it as it comes and deal with it the best we can, after all Cameron may very well be our only child.
For more information visit March of Dimes.