There she was—our new teeny-tiny bundle of joy. She was everything we ever dreamed about, but also everything we never could have expected. That’s because, like one in every eight babies born in the United States, our daughter Beatrice Kate was born premature. Eleven weeks premature to be exact.
We thought we had done everything right. I took prenatal vitamins daily, had regular doctor visits, ate a balanced diet and attended prenatal fitness programs.
Weighing only two pounds three ounces at birth, the early arrival of our baby taught our new family that prematurity doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care about your age, race, education level or household income. Prematurity can happen to anyone. It happened to us. In fact, since 1981 the rate of prematurity has risen more than 30 percent.
Nov. 17 is a day set aside by March of Dimes to raise awareness for prematurity.
Of course, looking at her now in all her baby-chub glory, you’d never suspect a thing about Beatrice Kate. Sure, she’s a little small for her age and we’re a little over zealous with hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes at our house, but overall she’s in amazing health.
That’s thanks in no small part to the amazing advances made possible through organizations like March of Dimes and the incredible medical professionals at NICUs like those in the Triangle. We’re very fortunate to live so close to two of the top NICUs in the nation who are more than capable of treating and caring for the tiniest of miracles.
So, if you know a preemie (and you probably do), give them a full-term sized hug today and help spread the word for preemies! As March of Dimes says, “We need to fight—because babies shouldn’t have to.”