You know this girl, right? The feisty one? The willful child? The sweet baby doll who likes to shout, “Hi, Mommy!” and “Thank you, Daddy!” The very kiddo who prays for Elmo and her friends and diapers and her grandparents before bed?
Well, even though she measured in the 75th percentile for height and weight at her last appointment with the pediatrician, she didn’t start out quite so hale and hearty.
She started out like this:
That’s right. If you’re new around here, you might have missed my long, drawn-out telling of the whole story last fall. Long story short: Annalyn was born seven weeks early because my health was, well, not so healthy.
But despite being born so early and weighing less than 4 lbs., my stubborn little girl never had a problem. She spent two and a half weeks in the NICU, but she never even had to be on oxygen. And when she’d had enough of her feeding tube, she pulled that sucker right out and decided to drink from a bottle from then on!
She was a fighter.
But she was still tiny. And early. And cold. And wrinkly. And cute. But tiny. And she’s okay today because of the grace of God – and the years of research that told a whole hospital full of doctors and nurses how to take care of my teeny tiny baby.
I was due to have Annalyn two years ago tomorrow (also known as Thanksgiving Day – what a lesson in giving up on perfect that would have been!). So when I found out that November is Prematurity Awareness Month, I was excited to learn more about other teeny tiny babies. Here’s what I found out:
- Nearly 13 million babies worldwide are born prematurely each year, and more than one million die.
- One in eight babies born in our country is premature. That’s more than 1,400 babies each day, more than 543,00 each year.
- The rate of premature birth in America is higher than that of most other developed nations.
- In fact, the rate of premature birth increased by 36 percent between the early 1980s and 2006.
- The cause of premature birth is unknown in 40 percent of cases, but studies suggest that there may be four main routes leading to spontaneous premature labor: infections/inflammation, maternal or fetal stress, bleeding and stretching.
- The March of Dimes funds promising, innovative research into the causes of prematurity. In 2004, the organization created the Prematurity Research Institute, which has already awarded nearly $11 million to 30 grantees.
- Research funded by the March of Dimes demonstrated a potential new approach for diagnosis and treatment of preeclampsia, which is a serious form of high blood pressure that can lead to preterm birth – and what caused my own early delivery.
- The March of Dimes’ NICU Family Support program provides information and comfort to families with newborns in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). In 2008, the program served 84 NICUs and more than 50,000 families.
- You can support the March of Dimes by joining their advocacy efforts and donating to the organization. And I actually learned last night that in November and December, MasterCard is doubling online donations, dollar-for-dollar, made with a MasterCard card!
- You can learn more about premature births and the March of Dimes on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Youtube.
Did you know all this?! I sure didn’t. All I knew is that we are so very blessed that Annalyn is healthy. And I knew that many other families have experienced much more difficult struggles with premature births.
This post will be linked up to OhAmanda’s Top Ten Tuesday and Musings of a Housewife’s What I Learned This Week. And I’m going to take one more look at my tiny baby.
Do you know anyone who’s had a baby early? Were any of your children born prematurely? Were you born prematurely?
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I have a friend at work whose baby was born at just over 1 lb. I am so THANKFUL for medicine and advances in research that have let this sweet girl–now a wild 5-year-old–and sweet Annalyn live and thrive!
I didn't know our prematurity rates were higher than other developed countries. I wonder why that is. Diet? Higher stress? Hmmmm.
While those last few weeks are torturous, I try to remind myself it was a BLESSING to carry Libbie to 40 weeks and 1 day!
What a great post! I had no idea premature deliveries were so common. And we have more here in the US? So weird.
Thank you for all the great info and links to March of Dimes!
My sister was born at 8 weeks premature…almost 39 years ago! She was in an incubator for a month but finally made it up to five pounds.
Medical science has come a long way in helping babies born prematurely but there's still a long way to go.
I am so glad your little girl did so well and is still doing well!
isn't it amazing how lucky we are to live in the 21st century with all the medical knowledge and stuff?!
and don't NICU nurses rock?!
Fitting with my personality, I was born a week late. ;)
How exciting how much Annalyn's grown! :)
My son was born 6 weeks early and weighed 4pounds 11 ounces. I only got to see him for about 5 minutes before he was transferred to another hospital. I never saw him again for a week because I had to have a C-section and at that time they kept you for a week. He had a birth defect that had to be temporarily corrected and went into surgery the second day of his life. Other than that he never really needed oxygen although had a hard time eating. We used to have to take his little chin and push it up and down so he could drink from a premature nipple. Believe it or not, when he came home he only weighed 4 pounds. About a year later, he had to have the final correction for his problem. Thank goodness he's never had a problem since.
oops, I forgot to say he'll be 28 in February.
It's always amazing to see how these premature babies grow into healthy children! Our neighbors have twin girls who were born 6 weeks early and to look at them now, you would never know.
Your daughter is beautiful!
Technology is amazing! Who knew premature births were so common? Crazy!
This subject hits so close to home to me. Katie & Owen were born at 35 weeks weighing 4lbs 9 oz and 4 lbs 11 oz. Being very active in a multiples group it is extremely common for mom's of multiples to deliver early…sometimes WAY too early unfortunately.
We are so blessed to have some awesome doctors, nurses and NICU's today to care for our precious little ones.
Thanks for sharing. I had an early baby too, but he's as strong as can be these days!
What a blessing she is! My sister's baby was born early…but today he is a rowdy 3 year old that's definitely not tiny anymore!
Very informative post!
Yep – like chelleybutton – I was born 10 days late – indicative of my nature…
My 2 girls were both born 3 weeks early – almost exactly the same amount of time early for each. Both were full-size babies – and only my 2nd, Georgie, required inpatient care for jaundice… It was a tough time – but they are both really strong girls – and I'm thankful (even for their defiant nature which I know can be guided & shaped by the grace of God. or else…)
Mary – those pics make my tummy feel all scrunched up inside. What a gorgeous delicious miracle she was – Thanksgiving day or not.
No "premmies" in our house, but my hubby is a consultant neonatologist, so this is his life/career.
So glad your wee one survived and is full of life and energy!
Your daughter is beautiful! I'm glad to see she's a scamp and healthy and full of fun!
The pictures say so much! Thank you for sharing Annalyn's story and for supporting the research of the March of Dimes.