19 Mar 2012

Have You Hugged Your Preemie Today? Prematurity Awareness Day!

Today is Prematurity Awareness Day in Ontario, Canada.  It's a little quieter here, in comparison to the March of Dimes' March for Babies planning in the U.S.  Yet, there are still many options to help raise awareness and funds to be directed toward premature infants and their stays in NICUs, as well as their after care needs.

I've mentioned many times now that the experience of having one preemie birth, let alone three, is an emotionally and physically draining experience as a parent.  Preemie parents must sit back and watch, wait and pray for their premature children and don't have much control beyond that.  Thankfully, awareness is growing in the area of understanding the needs of premature infants and the families involved.

There are many causes out there, which parents and families and friends of premature infants can volunteer with or donate to.  Often these causes may be dependent on the specific experiences of the preemie in question.  Premature babies can experience very few side effects of early birth to many short term to long term complications and challenges.  As preemies are not yet fully developed, many will experience the need for a myriad of surgeries, respiratory therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and regular follow up with specialists.

Causes which have become near and dear to my heart include:
Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada--McHappy Day is coming up on May 2.
The Linden Fund--Pedal 4 Preemies is coming up on May 26.
Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus Awarness Month--The Spirit Wheel, Walk, Run(s) take place throughout June.
Ronald McDonald House--Hamilton's Footsteps for Families is coming up on June 10.
So many events, so little time! 

Other causes that one may never think of, which preemies can, do or will benefit from include:
Blood donations--blood drives
Organ/tissue donation
Human milk banking
Donations to Child Development Centres
Access to counselling--the trauma of premature birth can impact the mental health of mother, father, siblings and other family members.  Costs can be high to receive counselling for those that do not have benefits, and therefore would be an excellent cause to contribute for families in this situation.

The list could go on.  What I do know is that each premature child's experience is different and the ways in which parents react are also different.  Ask any parent of a premature child and they will tell you their memories are vivid, as though the events unfolded only yesterday, when it could have happened years ago.  We all have different stories, but are bonded by the unforgettable moments we have experienced in the NICU. 

Coming up this Friday, March 23, is Parents of Preemies Day, highlighting Hope, Resilience  & Miracles that come out of our NICUs.

Now go hug your preemie!

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