Thursday, November 29, 2007

National Prematurity Awareness Month

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.


From the Doghouse said...

Just to let you know ... your mom heart rocks.

Watercolor said...

So, how old do you consider too old to have babies?

Stacey said...

I can't say. It's between a woman and her doctor. This is MY OPINION and it's not popular, but I think that once a woman reaches a certain age and can't conceive naturally and has to go to extreme lengths to conceive a child, that's too old - they're just inviting prematurity. Women that put off and put off and put off having children and then want to start families in their 50s just irk me. More power to them, but don't be surprised if it all goes wrong.

Watercolor said...


Sandi said...

Murky waters you've treaded into Stacey. My daughter was born with a genetic disorder but i thank God for her every single day. No, we did not have to go through emergency intervention in NICU, but we did spend our share of time at Le Bonheur and that was frightening enough. I know that this blog was solely your opinion, but I don't regret a single day God's given me with my daughter. No, she's not perfect, but she is nothing less than a blessing. And not just to me.
2 cents, I guess

Stacey said...

Sandi - are you taking issue with my second point? I think I should've worded it better, anyhow.

Sandi said...

I understand where you're coming from. I really do. I just don't agree with you, and I'm basing that on my own experience. My daughter's symptoms were mild, and she'll live a normal, healthy life. I probably shouldn't compare her to more extreme cases. But I tend to take a very Catholic stance on this issue. All human life is sacred.

Stacey said...

To maybe put it a different way, I liken it to adoption. I would never say that someone giving his or her child up for adoption is a horrible person, especially if that person is unwilling or unable to make changes for the better and make a better life for a baby.

Similarly, if someone knows that a child will live an awful life and that life will never improve, I can't judge that person for allowing that child to slip into the arms of God. I'm not saying that I'd ever do it, mostly because I'm selfish, but I can't say that someone is categorically wrong when it comes to this.

I used to live in a pretty black-and-white world when it came to this stuff, but then I had a preemie and met other preemie parents and met some preemie parents who had chosen to let their children pass peacefully instead of live a life of intense suffering. They should not be regarded negatively because of that choice.

Sandi said...

Thanks for your response. I'm not criticizing you. I do understand how you feel this way. It's just hard for me to put myself in someone else's shoes who must make that decision.

But, having said that, I've always told my family that if something ever happened to me and they had the choice to take me off life support or let me linger in a coma, to just pull the plug. Yes, I believe that all human life is sacred, but I don't want to be a burden on my family.

Guess this makes me a hypocrite. I don't ever want to make that decision, but I expect my family to when it comes to me.

Stacey said...

I don't think anyone ever wants to make that decision! It's got to be the worst and most painful decision anyone would ever have to make, and it's one I'm sure anyone would second-guess the rest of their lives. I'm sure your family would do what they thought was best for you.