Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Prematurity Awareness

I know I really don't have a "leg" to stand on when it comes to prematurity compared to most who have had "real" preemies, but,  I've had to deal with the fear of having a baby far too early or premature.

This morning on the news, I saw the United States as a whole has received a "D" in the grade of prematurity and that over 12% of babies born in this country are born before 37 weeks. Isn't this number crazy for an advanced, industrialized country like the United States? 

I feel I am very lucky to have the education and experience I do. I can't imagine what it is like to be "in the dark" when it comes to pregnancy. I've been lucky enough to take care of a wide variety of low and high risk pregnant woman in my time as a nurse. I think back to my pregnancy with Lilah and think how lucky we were - what if I didn't know to ask the ultrasound tech to check my cervical length? Would Lilah be here with us? Would she have been born very early or not? It's so sad that so many woman have to experience a loss before they know they have an incompetent cervix - why? I don't understand why cervical length checks are not a normal part of obstetrical checks - especially during that very important 20 week ultrasound. You bet I make sure I tell all my friends and anyone who is pregnant to make sure they ask to get their cervical length checked - it could save your baby's life. Take control of your healthcare. If you feel something is not right - don't ignore it. Say something. 

Not only have I had personal experience with an incompetent cervix and cerclage, I've also had bouts with preterm labor and oligohydramnios or low fluid - all of which require close screening to make sure baby stays inside and stays healthy. I think about all the woman who don't know what is normal and what is not, and end up having a baby that is born too early. 

Even though, two out of my three daughters were technically born "premature" - I have been lucky enough to have brought them all home within 24-48 hours after their birth. Mairead, our oldest, was probably the most "difficult" baby to manage. She was not interested in nursing, very sleepy and jaundice. It was stressful as a first time mom, but thankfully my experience helped keep things under control. With Lilah and Clara, they were born loving the boobies, had no jaundice issues and acted like full term babies for the most part. We are so very lucky. 

I think about the baby growing inside of me. I have entered the "danger" period for those with an incompetent cervix. Tomorrow, I will have an ultrasound and I pray everything is normal and I can continue caring for our girls. With each ultrasound I have from tomorrow until I am about 26 weeks, I will be nervous. I know I have been so very lucky with our three girls, and I hope it only continues for this little bean growing inside of me. 

I do not care if this baby is a boy. I do not care if this baby is a girl. All I care about is having a healthy, term baby. There will be no disappointment if it isn't a boy - and this is where some people are surprised. They think - you have three girls - how could you not want a boy? You see, having a high risk pregnancy puts life into perspective. Sex does not matter. It shouldn't matter with anyone really. While finding out the sex is exciting, finding out if this baby is healthy is even more exciting. 

I hope in time we as a country find out why our premature birth rate is so very high. Babies need to be born full term. They need to stay inside of their mommies. 

1 comment:

  1. You've inspired me to remember when this is over to advocate! I, too will advise pregnant women to ask about cervical length.


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