Tomorrow, November 17, is National Prematurity Awareness Day.
When I first became pregnant in 2003, I never would have guessed that I would have twins - let alone that they would be born 13 weeks and 2 days early (at 26 weeks, 5 days gestation). There are no words to explain the guilt that I felt - and still feel - for not being able to carry them longer. I don't think I have met a preemie mom who didn't feel that guilt.
Morgan - hours old
Tanner - hours old
Never would I have anticipated the IVs, medicines, procedures, tests, care, and cost that would go into sustaining these tiny, fragile children. Tanner & Morgan were born weighing 995 grams and 999 grams (2 lb 3.1 oz and 2 lb 3.3 oz respectively). Tanner was 13.25" long and Morgan was 12.75" long. Just slight over a foot - they litterally could fit into the palm of your hand.
Twin pregnancies have a higher risk for early delivery. Even so, I had an ideal pregnancy until about 25 weeks. At that time, I began having contractions - that led to their eventual delivery at nearly 27 weeks. I received steroid shots in those 2 weeks between complications and delivery - shots that helped develop their lungs prior to their birth. Because of this, neither child was every on a ventilator after their birth (nearly unheard of for this gestational age).
(Tanner & Morgan about 2-1/2 weeks old - my first time holding them both together.)
Both children received days of treatment under bili lamps to help control jaundice (Tanner's liver problems were unrelated to his premature birth), Vitamin A shots to help with their vision, Caffeine to prevent low heart rates, og and ng tubes for feeding, and various breathing assistance (nasal cannula or CPAP).
Morgan spent 55 days in the NICU (and returned for a hospitalization within a few weeks).
Tanner spent a total of 81 days in the NICU (72 days initially followed by a 9 day stay for his first liver surgery). That time is the longest 3 months in my life (their birth on 04/30/04 to Tanner's second return home on 07/31/04).
We are so very grateful for the medical advances and God's grace that allowed Tanner and Morgan to survive the early birth. But, as a guilt-ridden mom, I don't want another mother to have to watch their child suffer through weeks of medical treatments in plastic boxes - when the child should have spent those days / weeks / months in the womb. It's why every year, Randy & I walk for March of Dimes.
Never would I have imaged such an early entrance for my two children, let alone what perfect being they would be.