November 17th was World Premature Birth Day and I missed it…

Cover of Just A Moment Too SoonThank goodness though I can scrape into World Prematurity Awareness Week, well, I could if I lived in Australia. My awareness is only due to my thoughtful library colleagues alerting me. You see, they have lived vicariously through the birth of my little grandson at 24 weeks and 5 days gestation. Also through the trials and tribulations he and his loving parents are still experiencing, so you understand why I am writing this blog late rather than never.

The Empire State Building was lit purple for World Prematurity Day. I think that gives you an idea of how big an issue “early birth” is and how the numbers are increasing worldwide. 15 million babies are born early every year. Some very early; some just a few weeks early.

The stress for them and their families is unimaginable. They are so very tiny and apart from the fight for survival they could potentially suffer brain bleeds, necrotising enterocolitis, heart malformations, bowel malformations, visual and hearing impairment, lung disease or learning disabilities. They also grow considerably more slowly outside the uterus and frequently take some years to achieve the growth rate of their peers.

Cover of Coming Home from the NICUMy grandson Ari, classed as “just viable”, was born weighing 700gms which is one and a half pounds of butter to those who struggle with baby weights in metric as I do. He was also born in the U.K. and we live in Christchurch, New Zealand, adding to our stress time and again over the following tense months. Waiting for communications from our daughter’s partner; trying to find out how he was… What happens now apart from the obvious breathing tube down his throat, wires attached to him all over (there wasn’t a lot of all over to attach them to either), incubator, etc?

For the mother there is also the sense of loss of pregnancy. She may grieve for what should have been a time of blooming and pleasure. No more sickness, just a blossoming baby. When the due date of baby arrives it is frequently a day of tears.

Cover of Ready for AirFortunately for all of us Ari is a wee fighter which is as well as he has chronic lung disease. This means he is still on oxygen and still in hospital at 5 months old – his actual age – but if you consider he was due in mid-September and it’s now mid-November, he is 2 months old.

The library was a good source of information, both in terms of what to expect and of the biographical aspects of premature birth.  It was good to be able to read heart warming stories of babies who survive their traumatic starts, grow into stroppy teens and healthy adults.

Were you a premmy?  I have met so many adults who were born early, but you would never have guessed it.  Have you been down this road within your family?

Novel about my wife – New Zealand e-book month

Tom Stone, skinnyish, fortyish, English, is madly in love with his wife Ann, an Australian in self-imposed exile in London. Pushing forty and expecting their first child, they buy their first, semi-derelict house in Hackney. They believe this is their settled future, despite Tom’s stalling career and their spiralling money troubles. But Ann becomes convinced she’s being shadowed by a local homeless man whose presence seems like a terrible omen.

As her pregnancy progresses she spends hours cleaning and reorganising the house, and sits up all night talking with a new feverish passion. As their child grows, so too does Tom’s sense of an impending, nameless threat. Their home appears beset with vermin, smells and strange noises. On the verge of losing the house, Tom makes a decision that he hopes will save their lives.

You can read Novel about my wife as an e-book from our Overdrive collection.

Novel about my wife is also available as a paper , audio and large print book.

Baby books – Up the Duff and onwards

When you are new at navigating pregnancy, you’re guaranteed to get advice from a variety of sources. And lots of people will gleefully tell you their horror stories. You need to do a bit of filtering so it’s good to know there are books and web sites to provide you with trusted information, and a bit of perspective.

I’m reading The New Zealand pregnancy book : a guide to pregnancy, birth and a baby’s first three months and it combines a lot of detail (including good illustrations and photos) with a clear, matter of fact style. Kaz Cooke’s Up the duff  is a goodie if you want a bit of pregnancy humour.

There are lots more resources to tap into: