On World Prematurity Day: Advice from a Pre-Term Mom: ‘Stay Hopeful’
Every year on her birthday, nine-year-old Grace and her parents drive to the Mediclinic Welcare Hospital in Dubai to visit the nurses in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). It’s a pilgrimage of thanks to the nurses who cared for Grace, who was born 16 weeks prematurely.
Delivered at 24 weeks, instead of the typical 40, Grace weighed a little more than one and a half pounds (725 grams). Her health was so critical, she was placed in the NICU, where she spent many months inside a GE Healthcare Giraffe Incubator.
“At the beginning of our NICU stay, a nurse gave us a list of 32 complications [due to her premature birth] that might affect our daughter,” says Grace’s mom, Niamh. “By the end, we had crossed off 28.”
“To this day, I don’t know how she survived,” she continues. “She had so many operations, blood transfusions… you name it, she had it.”
It was three long months from her birth before Niamh and Grace’s dad, John, were able to hold Grace for the first time, and another three months before Grace was able to go home. Throughout the six months in the NICU, Niamh and John were able to find some comfort in the incredible medical team that cared for their daughter.
“I can’t say enough about the doctors and nurses,” Niamh says. “They are truly angels on earth.”
Today, Grace is a happy and health second grader. “She’s an excellent reader,” Niamh says proudly. “She’s kind and full of empathy.”
Looking back on that difficult period, Niamh offers some advice to other parents of premature babies: “Find a support group, so you can connect with others who understand what you’re going through. Most importantly, stay hopeful. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. ”
World Prematurity Day is Saturday, November 17 – a day dedicated to raising awareness about prematurity and recognizing these tiny and resilient babies around the world.
Read more stories here about GE Healthcare’s support to families and caregivers across the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey