Had you asked me last year if I knew there was such a thing as Prematurity Awareness Month or a World Prematurity Day, my answer would have been a resounding no. It would never have occurred to me that premature birth was something that needed to be paid attention to- especially here in the US. How naive was I? According to the March of Dimes, one in eight babies born in the US was born premature. That is just a staggering number.
As anyone who reads this blog knows, I am all to aware of prematurity in the US. I am one of the lucky ones. My little 24 weeker is now a thriving 14 month actual (10 month corrected) 21 pound chunk-a-monk. So, instead of wallowing in my experience, I will take this time to remember all the people that helped me through my 95 day NICU stay.
In case you didn't know it, my love and affection for the staff at Alta Bates has no bounds. I think that each person who works in the NICU should be wearing superhero capes as opposed to scrubs and doctor's coats. I am in awe of all that they do and see, day in and day out. I feel so blessed to have been able welcomed into their world. I have tried to give back and thank them as often as I can. I filmed an ad for Sutter Hospitals - kind of a public love letter to the staff that saved Sam's life. I am now an active member of the NICU Family Advisory Council, working to help improve the NICU experience for families that are there after me.
I bet you are wondering if there is anything you can do... and of course the answer is YES! There is always donating to the March of Dimes. Since its inception, the March of Dimes has worked tirelessly to helping babies. There is Graham's Foundation. This is an organization started by preemie parents to honor their preemie son who did not survive. They are dedicated to supporting parents of micro-preemies with care packages, information and message boards.
Nearest and dearest to my heart is the Alta Bates Family Advisory Council Fund. One of the first things the Family Advisory Council did was start a fund to help those parents currently in the NICU. Many of the NICU families at Alta Bates are struggling to get by. For some, the financial burden of just getting the NICU and feeding themselves while there is too much, so they limit how often they visit. Our fund is aimed at easing that burden by providing food and transportation vouchers. In extreme cases, we will help with accommodations close to the hospital. We are also helping some parents purchase the essential baby gear they need to bring their babies home.
I leave you with a reminder of just how wonderful preemies can be. If this video doesn't brighten your day, nothing will!