As it is World Prematurity Day just had to give it a mention. I have worked in Neonatal care for around 30 years. Even though I have retired I still work some part time hours in the field. In fact I am writing this brief post as I have a brew in bed post night shift!
Throughout my time it has been a privilege to work with such fine specimens of humanity – the babies!
When I’ve told people what I do many people have commented “oh that must be hard” “that must be sad” but no. It’s quite the contrary – it’s uplifting and inspiring.
These little beings that arrive at the most inconvenient times, many weeks early are as tough as teak. Parents and families are scared of their small size and shiny skin, many looking like little skinned rabbits in the early hours after birth. Those of us who care for them aren’t, we know they are strong, tough, durable and will fight to do what’s necessary to cling to life. Sadly some don’t get to stay here but have to join the heavenly band of angels, but the majority make it in the end.
They have my utmost respect and I am in awe of them.
Many of the babies I cared for in my early career are now parents themselves, some are fine big rugby players, clever, talented adults.
Parents as well cope with more than they think they can. Premature births often happen when a mother of family also have another traumatic event going on – these preterm babies don’t care! Mother can be days away from a house move, death of a close family member, another child already in hospital. The birth of a tiny, frail baby is another burden they fear they cannot cope with – but they do! They manage to deal with a whole host of things whilst still managing to visit daily, sometimes for a stay of over 100 days. They do remain sane and come out smiling.
The professionals who work in the field, support these fragile tiny bodies as if they were a family member, they listen to stressed parents, wipe away tears of sadness and laughter, encourage parents to have some ‘me’ time. These professionals also grieve with bereaved parents and celebrate with parents as tiny milestones are reached.
I salute you all today