Prematurity isn’t just a medical issue or a financial issue or an odds game. It’s a family issue. Behind every picture of a tiny preemie or micropreemie splayed out in her isolette amid tangles of wires and tubes, there is a family who never imagined their baby would be that 1 in 8. After the premature birth of a baby, moms and dads find themselves in the NICU instead of a nursery, dealing with life and death decisions on top of the drudgery of diapers.
There’s a whole new lingo… on top of bottles there is bagging and bradycardia and brain bleeds and BPD. A $200,000 or $2m hospital bill is nothing compared to watching a 2 pound baby struggle through some new invasive medical procedure every other day. And you do watch, because it’s sometimes the closest you can get to doing something for your son or daughter.
Parents of preemies have their own set of statistics that don’t make the news and that’s why Parents of Preemies Day exists. It’s estimated that as many as 33 percent of fathers and 9 percent of moms of preemies develop PTSD. Similar numbers suffer from anxiety and depression. And yet moms of preemies and dads of preemies are also strong and resilient because they have to be when they are the emotional support systems and medical advocates for babies and children who face so many challenges related to their early births.
Sometimes the effects of prematurity can last years or even a lifetime, and it’s parents who step up to make sure conditions related to prematurity like cerebral palsy, chronic lung disease, hearing loss, and blindness don’t define their kids. It’s moms and dads who are there cheering their kids on, celebrating milestones when possible and moments when not.
Mostly these parents are behind-the-scenes characters in the overall story of prematurity as seen in the media, but that’s slowly changing. Parents of Preemies Day is an international day of awareness honoring the courage and commitment of moms and dads thrust into the world of prematurity. It has attracted attention from parents all over the world who were excited to have permission to share their preemie parent pride.
Yes, pride. There’s actually a lot to be proud of, from pumping for a year or learning to flush a g-tube like a pro to babies who overcome odds so dire they’re almost unimaginable. The milestones preemie parents celebrate may not appear on the typical charts, but they’re worthy of celebration nonetheless.
We believe parents of preemies are special and that their courage and resilience deserve recognition. That’s why we hope you’ll join us in celebrating Parents of Preemies Day this year.
For more information about Parents of Preemies Day and to share your preemie’s story with thousands of other parents of preemies join us today at http://facebook.com/parentsofpreemiesday