On World Prematurity Day I just had to pay tribute to this day after working in Neonatal care for over 30 years. Even after retirement I still worked some part time hours in the field for a while. I finally hung up my stethoscope 12 months ago, I felt these precious babies and their families deserved someone with a sharper brain to care for them than me with my menopausal brain fog.
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 thankfully the majority make it in the end.
World Prematurity Day has been allocated to raise awareness and pay tribute to this unique world. They have my utmost respect and I am in awe of them and their families.
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.
On World Prematurity Day I salute you all.