It's almost a taboo topic in today's society in spite of the fact that the number of premature births is increasing each year. Each day 1300 babies are born prematurely. Some survive, others don't.
Unless a person has been personally affected by prematurity, they simply don't consider the causes and effects of pre-term labor. Why would they? When I discovered my pregnancy, I never even considered the chance that I could give birth prematurely.
In fact, even after my first hospitalization at 22 weeks for pre-term labor as a result of a low-lying placenta, I still didn't consider the chances of my son being born prematurely. The problem that had cropped up had resolved itself, so I assumed that I had no other reason to worry. I was past the first trimester and well into the second. Nothing could go wrong at that point, could it?
I was 27 weeks along when I started having problems again, only this time I was actually dilating. Again, I thought that everything would work out fine and my son would be born near his October due date.
At 28 weeks, I was faced with the fact that the chances of me making it beyond 32 weeks were amazingly slim. In fact, the chances of me making it to just 30 weeks were slim. At that point, I became numb.
What else could I do? I could lie in bed with my legs closed as tightly as possible, hoping and praying that I didn't go into labor. That could only go on so long.
At one day shy of 29 weeks I was admitted to the hospital. I was told that I wouldn't be leaving until my son was born, whether he was born that day or six weeks later. I was given magnesium sulfate in hopes that it would stop the prodromal labor. That night, my water started leaking. The next day they stopped the magnesium sulfate and told me it was best if I just went into labor. Nothing happened that day. However, my contractions picked up that night and at 3:23 AM on August 5, 2005, my son was born.
It did not matter that I had taken my prenatal vitamins and had received the best medical care available. It did not matter that medications were administered to stop the labor. It did not matter how much I rested or what I ate or whether I was at home or at the hospital. No amount of medical intervention could have prevented my son from being born 11 weeks too soon.
There is no explanation for the polyhydramnios that ultimately caused my early delivery. There was no fetal anomaly, nor was there a problem with me physically. It just happened. That fact was of little comfort to me when I would visit my son in the NICU. A six-week separation from one's newborn child is far too long for anyone to have suffer through.
My son is relatively healthy, aside from the apnea of prematurity. Many other preemie moms are not so lucky.
While the medical intervention that is available today was unable to help me, I hold out hope that there is an answer out there that will prevent the premature births of thousands of children.
November is Prematurity Awareness Month and the 14th of this month is the day set aside to honor those who were born prematurely. This month is set aside to raise awareness to the possible causes and the complications of premature delivery.