November, of which this is the last day, is Prematurity Awareness Month. Last month, I posted some guidelines as to what to say to a woman grieving a pregnancy or infant loss, so I reckon I should say something commemorating this month, seeing as how I have a preemie and all.
Here's my two cents.
1. Follow the rule of nachos. Don't touch a baby if the baby is NA-CHOS. Some of you may need to read that out loud. I really can't stress this enough. The first time I took Ace on a public outing out of necessity for food, I broke down next to the lettuce because a bunch of people were looking at him and I was quite sure the heffas would put their freakin' disgusting old women hands all over him and get him sick. I'm sure I've told y'all about the woman at the post office that pawed my child... uuuugggghhhh I've never felt the urge to tackle someone at the knees as much as I did in that moment.
RSV is very serious, despite what some people will tell you. I know 3 full-term children who had it this year, one of whom was hospitalized for nearly a week. For a parent that's just spent days, weeks, months in the NICU with their child, re-hospitalization is terrifying and something we are desperate to avoid. Not just RSV - we have pneumonia to worry about, the flu, stomach illnesses, etc.
So, you know how ya mama told you when you were younger not to touch anything if it's not yours? That applies to babies. Unless you have explicit permission, I don't care how adorable the baby is, DO NOT TOUCH. You really don't know what you could have on your hands that you could transmit to that baby.
2. I know that several of my pro-life friends (and a few pro-choice ones) are going to recoil in horror at what I'm about to say, but you have to understand that my opinion is coming from 18 months of talking with preemie parents. I don't want anyone to ever think that a parent or doctor who chooses not to go to extreme and drastic measures to save a preemie is a terrible person. It is not some amazing miracle that a child born at 21 weeks survives. It's a tragedy that the child was born that early, period. There is no miracle in extreme medical intervention and life-long profound disabilities. A lot of people who have never been in a similar situation don't understand this, but there are truly things that are worse than death.
I AM NOT SAYING that all people with disabilities should've been killed off at birth - I'm not a big fan of eugenics. I AM saying that parents who choose to let their child go peacefully with God instead of forcing that child into a life God never intended should never be judged negatively for what they've done.
3. Preemies are not just tiny full term babies - pre-term labor is terrifying and should be avoided, so I know this sounds profoundly stupid, but do everything you can to avoid having a preemie. Do not smoke while pregnant, and avoid second-hand smoke like the plague. Stay well-hydrated. KEEP YOUR PRENATAL APPOINTMENTS. And while I know this point is unpopular, don't have babies when you're old. Yeah, it's great that science can get people pregnant long after their uteruses have called it quits, but advanced maternal age is a major factor in premature birth.
4. Y'all know what a big fan I am of platitudes... just don't go there. They won't catch up by age two (no seriously, this is a straight up myth), there might very well be something wrong later in life, and no, everything may not be fine. Don't feed us crap. We don't believe you.
Well, I guess that's more like 4 cents. Now, go donate to the March of Dimes. Without them, we wouldn't know much about prematurity and what it takes to save a preemie.
3 days ago