Daniel Nuzum's audioboos

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Born too soon... World Prematurity Day

It was a Tuesday afternoon when with nervousness and excitement we met our twin boys Rory & Killian face to face for the first time in an operating theatre. "If you want to see them look now as we need to go" was the opening line that went round and round in my head as two teams of paediatricians and neonatal nurses disappeared out through the theatre  doors with our two little boys born at 32 weeks. Sitting beside my wife behind a surgical drape as tears flowed down our cheeks we felt helpless and vulnerable as the obstetrician quietly closed up the wound through which our little men had entered the world. And silence is the strongest memory. There was an eerie silence punctured only by the beeping on various machines and the muffled words of the team through surgical masks.
All I could see were the eyes that made contact with each other across my wife's body which had no feeling save for tugging and pulling as they did their handiwork. Looking to the ground were the blood and iodine stained wellington boots of the team. The mess on the ground was but a fraction of the messiness of uncertainty which we could do nothing about.

"If you want to see them look now as we need to go" kept going round and round like a mantra. We only got a very quick glimpse before they were whisked away...

After what seemed like an age we were brought to the NICU to see our boys who were now attached to breathing tubes, wires, technology and lying on their tummies on what seemed to us like mini spaceships. Tubes, wires, probes, lights, noises, beeps, needles. As healthcare professionals we were used to all these things but never had I felt so helpless or vulnerable. There is no feeling quite like that sense of helplessness that a parent feels when their baby is so fragile and vulnerable.

Every year 15 million babies are born prematurely, that is 1 in 10 babies worldwide. To be born prematurely means that you are born before 37 weeks gestation. It is a terrifying experience for parents as they accompany their baby day by day. Today, 17 November is World Prematurity Day when just for one day we stop to think about the enormity of this issue. Prematurity brings with it a future of many potential hurdles and complications and every milestone is a huge achievement.

We were thrilled today to return to the hospital where our boys were born for a coffee morning to mark the day. This day five years ago they were in incubators five floors below where today they coloured in paper stockings and played with balloons. We owe so much to a great team who are now colleagues. The presence of so many 'Neonatal Graduates' today was such fun and each was a beacon of hope to the parents who joined us from the Neonatal Unit.

Tonight around the world we remember those who were born prematurely and who did not survive. A painful reality for too many. As we tuck our little men into bed tonight we think of those who would give anything to do the same.

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