As long and painful as pregnancy can be, cutting it short isn't something that a hopeful expectant mother would wish for. Premature birth has a lot of health risks for babies, and it is unfortunately very common. This viral video of a mom and her premature baby raises important awareness of the nature of prematurity, the emotional toll that it takes on parents, and the hope that proper medical care can offer them.
In an original video posted by the popular Facebook page Love What Matters, an unnamed mother is reunited with her new baby after days apart. She is shown holding her tiny son for the first time. As moving as the video is, the story that goes along with it is so important. It begins:
4 days after birth, I held my baby for the first time, it was the best feeling in the world to finally be able to hold him in my arms. He was born only 26 weeks and 3 days pregnant. They have no idea why I had him early, I’m a fairly healthy person, never missed taking my prenatal vitamins, completely cut out caffeine and exercised kind of regularly. He was only 860g at birth.
Unfortunately, the lingering questions that this mom was likely left with remain unanswered for many moms. As it is in this case, About Kids Health reports that about 50 percent of the time, the cause of prematurity is unknown. She goes on to explain the emotional impact of having a baby premature and having to turn him over to the NICU immediately:
For the first 4 days I wasn’t able to hold him, I was barley able to touch him. I just wanted a normal pregnancy, a normal birth, I wanted to be able to hold my baby right away, feed him and snuggle him.
The experience of having to surrender a baby so soon after bringing it into the world is one that parents of NICU babies know all too well. There are numerous stories online detailing the range of emotions that parents experience during that time apart, as well as research on the stress that separation causes to a new mother. While there are a number of coping strategies that can help make it easier on parents, it is far from an ideal situation.
Along with emotional suffering for mom, premature birth can cause a lot of health problems for babies. Babies born before 37 weeks can suffer from a number of respiratory conditions caused by immature lung development, jaundice, intraventricular hemorrhage, and more, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Fortunately for the mom in the video, she told Love What Matters that her son Grayson is now almost six months old and is doing very well following an 84 day say in the NICU. She uses her NICU success story to encourage other parents not to lose hope:
It’s scary to think 1 in 10 babies is born premature. I just want other parents who are going through this to know it’s hard, it’s scary but you’re stronger than you think you are, your baby is a fighter and you're not alone. I hope that someday soon you get to bring your baby home, too.
She's right in saying that parents of premies are not alone — there are a number of resources available to them, including Preemie-L, one of the most active online parenting communities, according to Parents. Creating a network of support keeps parents from shouldering the weight of premie care alone. November is the Centers for Disease Control's National Prematurity Awareness Month and the perfect time to learn more about the experiences of babies like Grayson and their families.
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