Today is World prematurity day and as a parent to premature twins who thankfully are happy and healthy three-year olds, I am reminded more so today of that journey we undertook during my pregnancy. A journey that confined me to bed-rest from twenty-three weeks on. Three of those weeks I could only walk two feet to the bathroom in my hospital room, six of those weeks on modified bed rest at home and a further three weeks confined to my hospital room with only an hour a day freedom to a local restaurant for dinner. I have written about my high risk pregnancy journey if you want to read more of our story here.
Our story is a happy ending with two beautiful children. However the worries that en grain in your heart and you bury deep once you leave the Nicu unit with two car seats in your arms rise every now and again. Our twins arrived at thirty-five weeks and one day, six days ahead of their scheduled delivery. We were lucky to get so close to term with the earlier scares but anyone who has a child in the neo-natal units can attest to the fact that it is a worrying time. When we knew there was a possibility the twins would come early the hospital arranged for us to visit the NICU unit and meet the teams who would if we needed help care for our children. I would encourage anyone who is at risk of a premature birth to speak with the hospital and ask if this is a possibility. It is quite a sensitive situation as there are very sick babies and worried parents in the intensive care rooms in the unit. Others are progressing through the various rooms with the worry leaving their faces as they realise they are getting closer to the exit , to bringing their baby home.
The twins had a short stay in Nicu, as premature babies they needed to gain a little weight as they were both just under five pounds at birth and develop their suck so they were feeding properly on the breast. Thankfully I had received a steroid injection a few days earlier which helped with their lung developments. Premature babies who arrive unexpectedly often have lung issues due to the lungs needing time in utero to develop. We had some complications with febrile convulsions at three days old which could have set us down a difficult road but thankfully they were deemed just that, febrile convulsions. The only thing we need to look out for now is when temperatures accompany sickness that we get them down as quick as we can to prevent convulsions, but that is the same risk as any child now with high temperatures.
It was only after the twins arrived, through charities like the Irish premature babies ,The Irish neonatal health alliance and the Irish multiple births association that I became aware of the support that is there in Ireland for parents of premature babies. They have done great work over the last three years in terms of promoting awareness of their services in conjunction with the HSE therefore I believe more parents leaving hospital with premature babies are aware of the help they can get from these charities. From supporting families with the cost of breast pumps, counselling services, community support, to speaking with other parents who have been where you are these are invaluable resources to have. Some babies come alot earlier than our twins did and will face long journies in the neo-natal units and these groups have invaluable resources you can lean on during difficult times.
My thoughts today are with all the amazing premature babies and they parents that I know. To those who fought so hard but lost their battles and gained their angles wings, I hope that we are closer to helping women achieve full term births and lessen the percentage of premature arrivals.
Our nicu units do amazing work and perform miracles on a daily basis and I hope they continue their work in helping our most vunerable yet precious bundles live the life we all dream of when we see that little blue line appear.
For support : https://www.hse.ie/eng/about/our-health-service/making-it-better/Support-for-parents-of-preterm-babies.html