Thursday, November 18, 2010

National Prematurity Awareness Day

So, as many of you know, I work in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) as a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner. And, yet, somehow I missed this very important day. National Prematurity Awareness Month is November and November 17th is actually National Prematurity Awareness Day. November 17th was yesterday. Oops!

Ironically I blogged about a particularly hard day that I had at work a couple of weeks ago the day before National Prematurity Awareness Day. And on that day, I was actually working. And having another hard day. (The short story: I lost one very tiny baby right after a difficult delivery in the middle of my shift and at the end of my shift I admitted another slightly-less-tiny-but-still-incredibly-small baby who was actually doing pretty well, but born to a diabetic mom with lots of complications. Yikes. I felt really good about how well the second baby was doing as I was leaving work but it's always a hard day when you can't save a patient.)

I have TOO. MANY. OF. THESE. STORIES! Life and death stories. Sad stories. Stories about great parents who did everything right but still lose a child. I'm so sick of it. Some days this job is heartbreaking and seems so fruitless. But most days I love it. I'm helping. I'm making that baby's start in life just a bit better or, on a great day, a LOT better. I'm giving them every chance. And I can't think of anything I'd rather do.

There is a blog that I've been follow for over a year that I think really exemplifies all the ups and downs and wonderful and horrible things about what the parents of my patients experience in the NICU. It's called Three Cheers for Babies. This mom originally had a cooking blog and was also trying to get pregnant with her husband. After fertility treatments, they conceived TRIPLETS!! Can you imagine? Two girls and one boy. They were over the moon. Unfortunately, these triplets delivered 15 weeks early. Charlie and Lily had a bit of a rough time but Annaleigh was actually progress along with her respiratory support and her feedings nicely. And even though parents aren't allowed to have favorites, as a reader of this blog and someone who works in the NICU, Annaleigh was my favorite. Such a little rock star!

And then she got the disease I hate most in the NICU, Necrotizing Enterocolitis. NEC is undiscriminating. It can take a sick baby and make him a thousand times more critically ill. But it can also take a baby like Annaleigh, who is doing wonderfully and kill her in a few days. And that is just what happened to this beautiful family. Many times, especially in the babies who are doing so well, we don't catch it until it's too late. I. Hate. This. Disease.

Charlie and Lily had a rough (but fairly typical for 25 weekers) ride for the rest of their stay in the NICU. But, Thank God, today, they are happy healthy toddlers, just over 1 year old. Their mom and dad wrote a wonderful post on their blog yesterday about National Prematurity Awareness Day and, if you are at all interested, you should definitely check it out!

Diabetes isn't the only passion of mine and I couldn't let this day go by without talking about it, especially after so many of us in the DOC are moms, moms-to-be or are trying to conceive. For every expecting mom out there, but especially for all of you T1 moms and moms-to-be, I just can't emphasize enough how important prenatal care is. For your baby and for you. It's free through several government programs and available to ANY pregnant lady. So many of you already know this, but I just have to say it because good prenatal care is where it all starts. If you want to learn more about prematurity or how you can get involved or even to get tips on how to best protect you and your unborn child against premature birth, birth defects and many other things even including tips on caring for your normal, healthy newborn, please visit the March of Dimes website.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Layne:

    Thank you for sharing the story of Charlie, Annaleigh and Lily - that was so nice of you. I appreciate you reading our blog and taking such an interest in my family.

    Congratulations on your pregnancy! I'm so happy for you! And thank you so much for all you do as a NICU nurse. It takes a very special person to do that job.