Whenever I see pictures of premature babies my heart skips a beat. They’re just so incredibly little. I can only imagine what it’s like for parents of babies who arrive too soon. I’ve had friends have their babies arrive well before their expected due date, but I must admit I wasn’t really familiar with micro-preemies.
I’ve just finished reading a truly gripping book by an amazing woman called Alexa Stevenson. It’s called Half Baked and in it she shares the story of her battle to conceive and her finally falling pregnant with twins. Tragically one of her twins, a boy they called Ames, passed away in utero at just over twenty weeks, and his surviving twin Simone was born at just over twenty five weeks.
Until I read this I didn’t know much about micro preemies. The actual definition of it is a baby that is under 1 3/4 pounds (between 700-800 grams) and is generally born before 26 weeks gestation, though most people use this term up to include any baby under 3 pounds (1500 grams) or under 29 weeks gestation.
The book follows the battle for Simone’s survival throughout many difficult weeks in the NICU. Reading Alexa’s book it really struck me how hard it is for parents of preemies in terms of missed expectations. There is often no time for a baby shower, your birth plan goes out the window and the NICU is often described as a roller coaster ride.
Alexa writes about how parents of full term babies often have no concept of just how tiny a micro preemie can be. She described her daughter as having fingernails half the size of a grain of rice when she was born. The statistics regarding survival rates for these little sweethearts has improved enormously in recent years, but parents and babies often endure enormous trauma during those rocky early weeks and often have to cope with great heartache and loss.
I am in awe of the things parents of micro-preemies have to endure, even though as Alexa says in her book: “you would if you had to.” While less than 5% of births occur at less than 28 weeks it is still something that must be terrifying for those parents who fall into that category. For Alexa the thing that comforted her was that her daughter would never remember her time in the NICU. I can’t imagine that her parents escaped so lightly.