8Nov

The Scope of Prematurity: Help Raise Awareness This Month

By Sue Ludwig

American Express called me one day. The woman on the line wanted to make sure I understood all of the benefits they had to offer our organization. (NANT uses American Express for all of its transactions.)

As part of her routine questioning, she asked me what NANT did and who we served. As I explained our vision in one or two sentences, her ‘telecommunication’ voice softened. You know where this is going right? You’ve had this experience.

She told me briefly about good friends of hers who had very premature babies (twins). She conveyed how amazing the nurses and therapists had been both in the NICU and in the follow-up they continued to receive after discharge.

She said the babies are flourishing. She guessed that we must have such a rewarding job. And I agreed – we do.

We continued our conversation and in less than 5 minutes had established enough rapport that we wished each other well at the end of the call.

You’ve been there. You’re at a party, or on an airplane, and someone asks what you do for a living. About 90% of the time, the other person responds softly – they know someone, or were someone – someone whose baby (or babies) spent time in the NICU. They thank you for doing what you do.

It’s moments like this that remind you of the scope of prematurity – the sheer number of people it affects around the globe.

You tuck those moments away so that when you’re in the thick of NICU life – the stress, the schedule, the joys and sorrows – you can access that little space that says, “Look around. This is an amazing place to be. What we do comforts, advances, and celebrates life.”

You check your schedule and head to the next bedside feeling a little clearer than before.  You carry the privilege and responsibility of your work into the next sacred space, or incubator, as the case may be.

Premature birth is still the #1 killer of babies. The 380,000 babies born prematurely in the US each year and 15 million around the world need a legion of advocates.

If you’re one of the thousands reading this, you’re among them.

In the spirit of Prematurity Awareness Month®, the babies thank you.

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