Today is World Prematurity Day. 2 years ago this didn’t really mean much to me; I’d never heard of it. Then fast forward a year later and we were totally in the middle of it – back in the Cumberland Infirmary with April, only a few weeks old; still a very premature baby. There were posters around and ribbon badges you could buy to show support. Days were a blur and although I bought a ribbon, I didn’t really appreciate it all – I was just focused on April.
In 2016 World Prematurity Day means so much more to us. It is a global movement to raise awareness of premature birth and the sometimes devastating impact it can have on families. One year on, we are one of the lucky families and we now want to raise awareness of premature birth, the journey parents and babies go on after a premature birth (hence me writing this blog) and also to raise money for charity, to help other babies born too soon.
Over the past couple of months, Phil and I have been raising money for BLISS, the charity for premature babies, the NeoNatal unit at Middlesbrough hospital and also the Special care unit at the Cumberland Infirmary. So far we have raised over £8,000, which we are completely overwhelmed by – we thought we would perhaps raise a few thousand, but not £8,000 off 1 event! We have been touched by people’s generosity and support from our fundraising – it has brought me to tears many times!
I also feel it is important to raise awareness of premature birth and what this means for people. A Neo Natal unit is a hidden world and unless you’ve had a premature baby yourself it is alien and unknown. For babies born severely premature, like April, through maternal illness, growth restriction or other complications, their families are thrust into this world and have to come to terms with what having a premature baby means, very quickly.
A Neo Natal unit is very different from a special care unit. A baby born at 26 weeks is also very different to a baby born at 36 weeks. Whatever experience people have – and all the stories are differnt – having a premature baby profoundly touches the lives of their families.
By writing this blog, I hope to give an insight into what it is like to have a premature baby. Give reassurance to other parents who may have been thrust into this crazy world and also help other people understand a bit more about what new parents might be going through.
Through our fundraising we also want to raise money to help give something back to those who helped April. It may only be a dip in the ocean of what NeoNatal care costs the NHS, but we feel if it can make a tiny difference, then we are doing good.