Today is dedicated to raising awareness of the crisis of premature birth. Every year, 20 million babies are born premature in the United States. You can go here to learn about the research being conducted on the causes and prevention of prematurity, and to learn what you can do.
I love this picture. Lauren at 2 days old.
Lauren was born six and a half weeks early, last October. She weighed 4 lbs 8 oz. I was hospitalized for a week before she was born, because my water had broken. She stayed in the hospital for 12 days and came home November 5, 2008, weighing 4 lbs 13 oz. She was on an apnea/heart monitor for a while and had several visits from home health nurses.
After several weeks, we were getting ready to take her off the monitor, actually we stopped putting it on her for about 3 nights, and then we noticed one evening that she was having some problems breathing. We still had the monitor and put it back on her that night and she had at least 6 serious apnea episodes throughout the night. Like turning blue (I cannot tell you how scary that is.) Did you know babies can turn blue from not breathing for only about 10-15 seconds? I wish I didn't know that from personal experience.
We went to the children's hospital early the next morning and eventually got settled in where Lauren was monitored and treated for bronchiolitis for about 8 days. (She didn't have the RSV virus but did have the same illness that RSV causes.) She was mostly there for monitoring but was also given some supplemental oxygen to help her body fight her way through the illness. After she came home she only had one or two apnea episodes in the next few days and then has been very healthy ever since (she got her first fever, ever, last week while we were on our cruise but she's almost all the way better now). We did decide to keep her on the apnea monitor at night until she was around 5 months old.
I am so grateful that Lauren is healthy and didn't have any lasting problems related to her prematurity. She turned 1 year old last month and is starting to take first steps here and there. She's sweet and easygoing and happy. She loves her baby doll and throwing balls. She doesn't like the vacuum or baths or people putting things on their heads.
I wish I could understand why this happened to us, and why so many babies are being born early. I had two full term babies, and really the only thing "high risk" about me during my pregnancy with Lauren was that I turned 35 the month before she was due. I did read on the March of Dimes website (I can't find a link right now) that having any type of infection during pregnancy can possibly be linked to premature birth. And I did have a not-terribly-severe but not fun episode of food poisoning in July while I was pregnant. Maybe that weakened my system and eventually led to my early ruptured membranes and early labor. I won't ever know for sure. We ended up with a healthy, happy baby, but it was a tremendously difficult experience that I am still not ready to share very many details about. I am glad we had the support of the March of Dimes and I'm going to look into finding out more about how our family can support the fight for preemies.