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World Prematurity Day

Today, November the 17th sees the world celebrate all the premature babies and their families. To raise awareness for premature births and to highlight the issues that they face. 1 in 10 babies will be born premature that is 15 million babies each year. Today, may also be the time some children learn what it means that they were premature and the journey they and their family took. It can always be hard to breach the subject with a child, to explain that they faced a tougher start to life than most. That they were poorly, they needed extra care and stayed in hospital. They had to fight, to stay here, to be where they are today.

The world stands up today and celebrates all the babies who were born early, and their families. Today, is for the mums, dads, grannies, aunties, uncle’s, cousins and friends which watched their little one small, vulnerable and fragile flight for their lives. It is to recognise the issues they face, and how we can improve the NICU experience for all. It is to celebrate how far these amazing babies have come, what they have overcome to get here.

Although, Elijah was not premature he was born at 38+3 weeks and was 11 days early, I often wonder how I will tell him that he was ill and admitted to NICU. That for the first 9 days he as hooked up to wires, tubes and fought his way to come home. When do you do this? I mean Elijah is aware when we go to the doctors now, what happens when we take him for his heart check-up in Jan? When do we tell him that the scar running down his chest was because he has had open heart surgery? How do you even begin to explain this? Will he understand? Seeing the pics of himself in hospital will they frighten him? I find it very hard to look at pictures when he was in NICU.

I often wander in the parent section of the library, and you can find a book on pretty much anything, except how to tell your child they were in NICU, they were ill, they were premature. What I am seeing more and more is books for children covering the subjects that themselves will be going through; potty training, first day at nursery or a new sibling. When we were in hospital for Elijah’s operation we were given a leaflet and it again was aimed at a slightly older child but helped them relate and explain what was about to happen. You will find most of these everyday subjects being covered in some sort of way on kid’s TV, Peppa, Bing etc. I find Elijah takes notice of these a lot more. He was see it on the TV, or in a book and it is easy to talk about. The big subjects like NICU, being premature, having lifesaving operations seem to however not cross the producer’s minds.  I for one, however will continue to spread the word about these issues and publish them wherever I can.

I was contacted via another NICU parent and made aware of a lady who had created a book all about explaining to your child they were premature. What they may have gone though in hospital. When the author Ali Dunn got in touch with me, I was delighted that she sent me a copy to review. The book is 24 pages and starts with a little girl explaining that she was premature just like you. I love the one to one concept, like they are two children having an adult conversation. In a way, not to frighten the child the pictures are colourful, even when talking about needing help from wires or tubes it is accessible to the child. I think my favourite thing about the book is the adventures the baby goes on when they are in NICU, a submarine, in a rocket, a kangaroo pouch and ends with the baby going home, that they too have been brave and are a little miracle.
This book is a great way to explain to a child how they started off in life, that it wasn’t easy but they are strong, they are a fighter and they can be anything they want too. You could argue do they need to know this? I think they do, after all as I always say the NICU journey does not just end when you get home. In fact, that is the start of the journey. There are follow ups, development checks, hospital visits and there may be lifelong health issues that will need to be monitored just like Elijah’s heart condition. The more educate the child becomes about their condition, and how it started out the better prepared they are to look after themselves in the future. I would thoroughly recommend this book to any premature parent to read to their child, even if it is just to celebrate how fat they have come from those first weeks in the NICU.

I believe the subject of NICU should be discussed and features a lot more in the media channels such as kids’ books, television and even way before then in ante natal classes. Today we will also recognise the many issues that having a child in NICU brings and this could be the family’s mental health suffering. As you are aware from other blogs I am currently campaigning with Bliss and Little Miracles UK to bring about change due to the lack of mental health care for NICU parents, this includes premature parents too.

What better way to show your support to a premature and NICU parent by taking a couple of minutes to sign the ongoing petition or donate to one of the fantastic charities that help the families when they need it most and are campaigning for the issues that are affecting thousands of families;

I have featured many premature parents on the blog before and in honour of them today I have included the links to all of their amazingly honest words;

To celebrate all of you amazing preemie parents, I have one copy of Ali Dunn of I was a preemie just like you to GIVEAWAY! This is a one day giveaway to mark World Prematurity Day, head over to my Instagram and comment on the post and I will choose a random winner this evening at 20.00! UK RESIDENTS ONLY.



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