Last year on this very day, I wrote this post about my littlest blessing — my oldest son Owen, born too soon and too small more than 12 years ago.
Today is World Prematurity Day, and rereading that post brought the same tears and gratitude it did when I wrote it, the tears I shed when I look at photos like these, when I read about a new preemie family, or meet a parent who shares the battle scars.
Last year I wrote:
“[Our time in the NICU] was a eight-week fog of tears, pain, anger, despair, joy (yes, joy), and a depth of fear so great it will never truly leave me. He could be hungry, sad, or lonely, and I could do nothing. He could go blind, or deaf. He could be disabled, or need a feeding tube for life. He could have developmental or mental disabilities. He could die. And I could do nothing.”
“Preemie clothing maybe cute, but prematurity isn’t.”
There are 15 million preemies born world-wide each year and one in eight American babies is born too soon. In high-income countries, 90% of extreme preemies (less than 28 weeks) survive; in low-income countries 90% die. Every 30 seconds, a baby dies of prematurity.
We are the lucky ones, the truly blessed. Today, Owen is 12 years old and in junior high. He plays piano, tuba, and baseball. He joined the skiing club at school, plays Minecraft with his little brother, gets mad when I make him cut his hair, and lost his newly-acquired cell phone and has to buy a new one with his own cash. In other words, he is perfect, and we are grateful. We don’t ever, for a moment, forget.
To learn more about prematurity and what you can do to help raise awareness and support prevention, check out the March of Dimes infographic below, read this great article by Carole Presern, director of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, or visit the March of Dimes website.