As Thanksgiving is just around the corner, I thought it’s a good time to start posting about gratitude. November is also Prematurity Awareness Month. Today (and every day) I am thankful for the preemie in my life. A Facebook memory popped up this morning with a photograph of Blessing at 6 months. I thought I’d share what I wrote two years ago as I still feel the same way:
Even though Blessing is my fourth child, in some ways his arrival has made me feel like a new mother since he’s my only preemie. I am still processing the dramatic events of this year. Every day I awake tired (he still nurses a lot) but grateful. I now view the usual “trials” that come with a small baby as blessings… because the alternative would have been heartbreaking. Blessing was almost delivered at 30+6 and we were lucky to hold off for three more weeks with medical intervention. (40 weeks is considered full term). The midwives assured us that the babies who fight for survival in the womb are often very strong, which seems to be true in his case. At six months he has already “caught up” in size and quadrupled his birth weight while being exclusively breastfed!
I’ll forever be grateful to live in a country with quality prenatal care and excellent neonatal services. (For my American friends: prenatal and postpartum care are FREE for everyone in Ireland, but that’s a whole different subject). Prematurity is still the leading cause of death for children under five worldwide. Our nurses and doctors are heroes as are these beautiful little people! Blessing has been my teacher; I’ve learned that every day (even the bad ones) are precious and life shouldn’t be taken for granted.
According to the WHO Fact Sheet on Preterm Births:
- Every year, an estimated 15 million babies are born preterm (before 37 completed weeks of gestation), and this number is rising.
- Preterm birth complications are the leading cause of death among children under 5 years of age, responsible for approximately 1 million deaths in 2015.
- Three-quarters of these deaths could be prevented with current, cost-effective interventions.
- Across 184 countries, the rate of preterm birth ranges from 5% to 18% of babies born
Preterm is defined as babies born alive before 37 weeks of pregnancy are completed. There are sub-categories of preterm birth, based on gestational age:
- extremely preterm (less than 28 weeks)
- very preterm (28 to 32 weeks)
- moderate to late preterm (32 to 37 weeks).
Induction or caesarean birth should not be planned before 39 completed weeks unless medically indicated.
In our case we were fortunate that Blessing fell into the moderate to late preterm category and didn’t have any major or lasting complications. He had to be induced because I had a severe case of preeclampsia, which was quite scary. If you’d like to learn more about prematurity, check out the WHO link above.
If you would like to offer support to families who have experienced a premature birth, check out the Irish Neonatal Health Alliance website. You can offer a donation or get involved in one of the listed events. For craftier readers, why not Knit for NICUs? (A friend made an octopus for Blessing while he was in the hospital and we still treasure it). You could also sew angel pockets, a patchwork blanket, or drawstring bag. To see a variety of free patterns for premature babies click here. Please forward your knitted, crocheted or sewn garments to the INHA , 26 Oak Glen View, Southern Cross, Bray, Co Wicklow. Thank you!
If you’d like to join me in sharing your Gratitude Tuesday posts, simply share your link in the comment section or leave a comment about something your’e thankful for today. You could also tweet using the hashtag #GratitudeTuesday. Check out Natalie Thompson’s blog post where she coins the hashtag #gratituesday. She suggests posting every week and sharing what you’re grateful for from the previous 7 days.
I’ve long held the belief that focusing on your blessings increases them. For my 40th birthday one of my best friends gave me a Jane-a-Day 5 Year Journal. He knew how much I LOVE Jane Austen. I’ve read all of her novels, some of them numerous times. I’ve also watched all of the screen adaptations, most recently the TV miniseries of Emma (BBC 2009) on Netflix, an absolute pleasure. The journal has 365 of her witticisms, one for each day of the year. There is space to write a few lines every day. The back cover suggests that you comment on the daily quote, but I use it as a gratitude journal.
Today I’m adding Jane Austen & her legacy to my list of what I’m grateful for.
However you choose to practice gratitude, whether it’s in a journal, on your blog, or simply by observing your private thoughts/ prayers each day, I hope that your blessings multiply! Have a great Tuesday.💜