In order to bring a bit of awareness to preemies, NICUS, and what life has been like for us over the past five months, I thought I would use this week to tell our story of life with Griffin, our sweet blessing who arrived nine weeks early, as well share a few other stories and encouragment about how you can help make a difference when someone you know and love has a preemie.
To start us off, let me share a few statistics:
- One out of every ten babies, worldwide, is born prematurely.
- One out of every eight babies born in the United States, is born prematurely (approximately 1/2 million babies each year are born prematurely).
- In Hinds County in Mississippi, in 2009, 1 in 4 babies was born prematurely.
|Length of Pregnancy||Likelihood of Survival|
|34+ weeks||Almost as likely as a full-term baby|
|Sources: March of Dimes, Quint Boenker Preemie Survival Foundation|
As I typed the statistics above, I was even shocked to find that three years ago, in our own county in Mississippi, one in four babies were born prematurely. And yet, unless you are carrying multiples or have a history of medical complications, as an expectant mother, you probably don't give many thoughts towards having a preemie of your own. We surely did not. Yet interestingly, the odds of having a preemie far outweigh the odds of many diseases or special needs complications that many mothers do worry over. Sure, all of the pregnancy books had sections on preemies and multiples, but I confess, I always passed those chapters by saying, "that's not me - I'm not going to have a small baby." And then I did. Didn't have a clue what we were doing at 31 weeks, checking into the hospital, finding out 30 minutes later, "yes, Mrs. Belknap?...we've called the on-call doctor...you are ready to push!" That was not what the chapters in my books had told me was going to happen!
Most mothers of preemies would probably agree that you are not prepared for all that you go through - mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. In fact, it's really not for a while that you even get to a plateau where you can breathe a bit and begin understanding where you have been and where you are going. When you have a premature baby, you just do the next thing. They tell you push...and you do. They tell you to pump and pump and pump around the clock because this baby needs milk...and you do. They tell you it is going to be hard to leave that baby in the NICU...and it is. But with God's grace, you do the very next thing. And then the next.
Prematurity awareness day isn't going to solve the problem of prematurity. But it MIGHT, just might help other people understand the risks, the stresses, the realities, what could be, and how they can help. And maybe our story can be of encouragment to others who have this road ahead or who are even further down the path than we are. So stay tuned, more ahead on the wonderful blessing of a premature baby.
Our tough little lion...at 4 months old, weighing 11lbs.