World Prematurity Day is a global movement to raise awareness of premature birth and the sometimes devastating impact it can have on families. On 17 November, Bliss comes together with partners from around the world to talk about premature birth in their countries and to try and take action on behalf of the 15 million babies born early every year.
This year Bliss will be marking this day with their London Little Lights Walk but before I get into that I’d like to share my own story of prematurity with you and explain why this charity is so important…
This will be my very first World Prematurity Day after my little William arrived into the world on 21st November 2017, 8 weeks early. Having already given birth to a full-term baby, I never imagined my second pregnancy would be any different but it was worlds apart. I knew all the way through I didn’t feel the same as I had with Jake and after pushing for tests, after bleeding, having heavy discharge and losing my mucus plug I was told I had Group B Strep. I felt this was somewhat brushed to one side and no real concern was shown to me. I was informed I would need antibiotics during labour but that was as far as the information went really. I had no idea that it could affect me in other ways and at 30 weeks my waters broke.
I was lucky. That may sound strange but my waters breaking and labour not starting, meant I could give my baby a fighting chance. I was given 2 steroid injections (24 hours apart) and was started on antibiotics. I had a few days hospital stay and knew I had to take it easy once home. If he had arrived at that moment the outcome would have been far worse. What I found amazing was the fact that steroids only seem to go to a baby’s lungs and do not affect any other part of their body. Years of research has therefore led to doctors administering these as soon as they can in order to prepare the lungs for the premature birth. Because they knew this, my baby needed very little help with his breathing when he decided to arrive into the world exactly 2 weeks later.
He was delivered naturally (unlike my first who was an emergency c-section) and whisked away from me very quickly. The NICU staff were present at his birth and knew all of my details. They were there to save him. They got him breathing and took him downstairs to the unit and spent the next few hours doing their amazing job. By the time I was allowed to see him he was covered in wires, drip lines, NG tube, was inside an incubator and surrounded by machinery. It was overwhelming.
However, I felt completely happy in the knowledge that they were doing all they could for him and I knew they were going to help him in a way I never could. For that, I will be eternally grateful.
I will say it again, I am one of the lucky ones. William only needed CPAP (a breathing ventilator) for that first night. He quickly overcame his jaundice, he took his feeds well, he breastfed on day 2 and he progressed so quickly that he only spent 3 weeks in hospital overall. You can read his full journey here.
No matter how long or short the stay is, the feelings, emotions, upset and worry us parents experience are all the same, yet the staff and their expertise made this so much easier for me. They were easy to chat to, they helped when I had bad days, they looked after my baby when I had no choice but to go home, they supported me through the painful and annoying expressing journey and they cared so, so much.
They worked 12-hour shifts, tirelessly saving and helping these teeny tiny babies in the NICU and they did it with a smile. They do a job I know I could never ever do because I would just be emotionally drained every single day, yet even the youngest who was on her training placement did amazingly.
But what happens when you come home? I felt scared I can tell you that much. I was worried something would go wrong and he would stop breathing. Due to his gestation, we couldn’t leave hospital without first aid training but I felt I needed more and did a training morning with Mini First Aid to feel much more confident. But the emotional side was tough. I had been through a whirlwind of emotions within such a short space of time and I came away not really knowing how to feel about it all.
Bliss offer this extra support and they want to be able to offer that care inside the NICU as well as outside to every single premature baby and their family by 2019. But this takes time, dedication, research and of course funding. Bliss is a charity and they need your support in order for them to provide this support.
This years fundraiser will be taking place on World Prematurity Day in London on their Little Lights Walk.
The short family-friendly walk will take place from 4pm-7pm and is suitable for all ages. It will start at the EY offices in London Bridge with a moment taken to remember those babies who are no longer with us. The walk will cover a beautiful 2km route near Tower Bridge and finish with a reception serving hot chocolates.
The hopes from the event is to raise £25,000 that will help Bliss to continue their vital work to give premature and sick babies the best start in life.
Date: Saturday 17th November, 2018
Time: 4pm – 7pm
Location: EY, 1 More London Place, SE1 2AF
Registration fee: Adults £15, children register free (medal and t-shirt options available)
Fundraising pledge: £75 per adult (you can continue to fundraise for 4 weeks after event)
Registration deadline: Monday 12th November, 2018
There are a limited number of tickets for the Little Lights Walk so if you’d like to go along and support this amazing charity, you can register and purchase your tickets here. For further information or to find out more on how you can support Bliss please visit their website.
I hope some of you can help to raise the funds Bliss need in order to carry on with their important work.
*This is an unpaid collaborative post with Bliss.
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