Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Premature Birth

What Causes premature birth?

There are various factors that can influence the amount of time your baby spends in the womb. From hereditary factors, genetic conditions, medical complications, and physical characteristics to outside influences including such things as physical injury or emotional trauma, drug and alcohol use, and poor diet.

Although modern medical technology has made an amazing number of advances that have greatly improved the survival rate of premature babies, it is extremely important for expectant mothers to understand the many risk factors which influence premature birth.

It is also important to remember, that sometimes, although an expectant mother does everything right and is without common risk factors, prematurity often happens for unexplainable reasons.

Between eight and ten percent of all pregnancies in the United States result in an early delivery. A full term human pregnancy lasts approximately forty weeks and a baby is considered to have been born prematurely if he or she was born before completing the thirty-seventh week in the womb.

Typically, the severity of the prematurity has a great impact on the medical and developmental complications premature babies face. While some early births result in perfectly developed infants with few or no complications, many premature babies are challenged with numerous health concerns due to the lack of time in the womb.

Common risk factors include:
  • LMultiple babies- carrying more than one baby (twins, triplets, etc) can significantly increase the chances of a pregnancy resulting in premature delivery.
  • Personal history- having a personal history of pregnancy that ended prematurely increases the chances that additional pregnancies will not continue to full term.
  • Uterine or cervical complications- Cervical cancer, uterine separation, and other conditions can impact the amount of time a pregnancy continues.
  • Health conditions- Diabetes, high blood pressure, and various other chronic heath conditions can influence the term of a pregnancy.
  • Tobacco use- It is more common for women who smoke cigarettes to have a pregnancy that results in low birth weight of the infant and premature delivery.
  • Alcohol use- The use of alcohol during pregnancy increases the chances of premature birth, and can have a major effect of the development of the fetus during pregnancy as well.
  • Drug use Drug use is associated with an increased risk of pregnancy that results in premature birth.
  • Certain types of infections- some types of infections experienced during pregnancy can increase the risk of the baby being born prematurely.
In addition to recognizing the risk factors involved with premature delivery, it is a good idea for expectant mothers to be familiar with the warning signs of premature labor as well.
Warning signs of premature labor often include:
  • Contractions of the uterus (tightening similar to cramping) that occurs every ten minutes or more often and continues regularly regardless of a change in position.
  • Increases or changes in vaginal discharge including bleeding or "spotting", or discolored discharge.
  • Pressure in the mother's pelvic area- often feeling like the baby is pressing against the pelvic area.
  • Cramping that resembles menstrual cramping, with or without diarrhea.
  • Persistent back ache, usually described as a dull ache in the lower back.
What can be done to help prevent preterm birth?
  • Avoid tobacco, alcohol, and drug use during your pregnancy.
  • Attend medical check-ups regularly during your pregnancy.
  • Actively seek medical treatment and advice for any warning signs or concerns you might have.
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Observe restrictions that coincide with any health conditions you might have, and continue to treat conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Although experiencing a pregnancy that results in premature birth can not always be prevented, educating yourself about the causes, warning signs, and prevention methods can greatly reduce the chances of premature birth.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Start your own Blog

Ever think about how to start your own blog?

One of the things I wish I had done was start my blog when my son was first born. I did journal but not as often as I should have..

In 2001 blogs were just beginning to get popular, and there wasn't easy access to wireless internet, especially in the hospitals, which meant I had to leave my babies side (who wants to do that!). The cell phones were flip phone, smartphones didn't do as much as they do now.

Being in the NICU day in and day out can be exhausting, both physically and emotionally (there is just something about those hospitals that just drain you emotionally and physically!).

The last thing you want to do when you get home is return phone calls/emailS Besides, how many times can you tell the same story?....

Today you can add a post and update your friends and family as you sit by the isolette!

So…where can you start your blog. Some of the sites I am familiar and like alot are sites like; Blogger it is free and user friendly.

If you’re interested in starting your own website check out Go Daddy.

So...where do you begin to start your own blog?

Just be yourself. Talk about your day in the NICU. Write about the ups...the downs, the frustrations! The milestones!! “hey, he gained an ounce today!” or “she tolerated 4 tablespoons of formula today” (huge accomplishment).

You also don’t have to use a blog as just a journal. Be as creative as you can, add pictures and videos of your baby. Show how s/he is growing. Are your creative? Write Poems.

Keep it up once you get home, follow your child as s/he grows.

Another reason to blog? When you have a medically fragile child, blogging could benefit you a great deal. For example, I know someone who looked back at what she wrote when her child started develop alot pneumonia’s she used the blog track how often he was sick, and what may have triggered his illness, what treatments worked.

I found by journaling (and now blogging) its not only therapeutic but it is a very good way to document medical information with out even knowing it!

There have been many times I had to refer back to when he was on medication, how he reacted, when he came off the medication, how often he got sick, how long it lasted etc... It helped doctors tremendously especially once we got home.

To get more viewers to you blog, join social media sites Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus....and attach them to your blog.

Check out this book on how to start a blog; The NICU Rollercoaster: How to Set Up and Use an Online Blog to Help Survive the Ups, Downs, Agonies, and Joys of Your Baby's Stay.

Happy Blogging!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

My favorite Poems...

I was going through some old scrapbooks and found some baby poems on preemies and specials needs that I had saved.

These are just a few of my favorite baby poems that had touched my heart and still do in many ways.
I hope you enjoy these poems as I did (and still do).

The Preemie Experience
by Sandra D. Moore

The preemie experience is the shattering of all your dreams for a normal healthy delivery 
Of the ability to carry home a beautiful squirming bundle after a short stay in the hospital
It is lying there on your room listening to the happy sounds of whole families joined together by the birth of a grandchild, cousin, niece, or nephew, and knowing that your child is miles away and may not survive long enough for you to see or simply touch.
It is that first glimpse of a skinny, scrawny, not much bigger than a Barbie doll child and feeling fear, awe and joy for such a fragile soul.
It is sitting by your baby’s “bedside” day after day, week after week, month after month, alternating between the emotional high of “look, his eyes are open” or “he’s crying!” and the lows of “I’m sorry, Mrs. _________. Something has shown up in his ultrasound” or even “There is nothing we can do…”
It is hearing the alarms go off for the twentieth time in less than fifteen minutes because your child’s heart rate keeps hitting zero.
It is watching children dying around you, wondering if your child will be next.
It is hearing your child’s cry of distress as the nurses insert yet another IV or do another round of daily blood tests.
It is meeting other parents of children who are doing far better and wondering “why me?” and meeting parents of children who have just died and praising God for His mercy to your child and feeling guilty because your child is alive and someone else is grieving for theirs.
It is days of nightmares testing and coping with less than positive results to the tests.
It is days of joy at seeing the first eyelash appear, the child gain a whole ounce in one day, and two bright shiny eyes look at you, and into your soul and knowing that your child now recognizes you as 
Mama and Dada, or perhaps looks at you and does not see you at all…
It is that final hurdle before coming home! It is the sorry of waiting for the monitor company to show you what to do if the alarm sounds when your child is choking, gasping for breath, or simply dying. It is the joy of just being away from all those nurses and tubes and wires and beeps and walking into the nursery you hastily prepared because, after all, the child wasn’t due for another three months!
It is thinking that the nightmare is over…only to realize that it still continues in the from of such acronyms as BPD, CP, PVL and numerous others.
It is the realization that these developmental delays have to be dealt with, that reflux is a normal and unfortunate occurrence in most preemies, that the constant fight to gain weight is in direct proportion to a preemies inability to do so.
It is watching a child struggle to pick up his and her head, sit, crawl or walk. It is witnessing only silence when the child should be babbling.
It is the mental images of a child running and playing and communicating with others in a perfectly normal manner that are marred when you face years of therapy, in order to simply get the child to eat by himself or talk or walk and then run.
The preemie experience is a journey…a journey through your soul in order to find faith and strength to cope, A journey of the mind when you face the emotional weariness, a journey of the heart…to accept that no matter what, this child is yours, an you will love this child no matter what!

God Chooses a Mom of a Special Needs Child
by Erma Bombeck

Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice, a few by social pressures, and a couple by habit. This year, nearly 100,000 women will become mothers of special needs children. Did you ever wonder how mothers of special needs children are chosen? Somehow I visualize God hovering over Earth selecting his instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As he observes, he instructs his angels to make notes in a giant ledger.
"Armstrong, Beth; son; patron saint, Matthew.
"Forrest, Marjorie; daughter; patron saint, Cecelia.
"Rudledge, Carrie; twins; patron saint.... give her Gerard. He's used to profanity."
Finally, he passes a name to an angel and smiles, "Give her a special needs child."
The angel is curious. "Why this one, God? She's so happy.""Exactly," smiles God. "Could I give a special needs child a mother who does not know laughter? That would be cruel."
"But has she patience?" asks the angel.
"I don't want her to have too much patience or she will drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wears off, she'll handle it. I watched her today. She has that feeling of self and independence. She'll have to teach the child to live in her world and that's not going to be easy."
"But, Lord, I don't think she even believes in you."
God smiles. "No matter. I can fix that. This one is perfect. She has just enough selfishness."
The angel gasps, "Selfishness? Is that a virtue?"
God nods. "If she can't separate herself from the child occasionally, she'll never survive. Yes, there is a woman I will bless with a child less then perfect. She doesn't realize it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take for granted a 'spoken word.' She will never consider a 'step' ordinary. When her child says 'Momma' for the first time, she will be present at a miracle and know it! When she describes a tree or a sunset to her blind child, she will see it as few people ever see my creations. I will permit her to see clearly the things I see --- ignorance, cruelty, prejudice --- and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life because she is doing my work as surely as she is here by my side."
"And what about her patron saint?" asks the angel, his pen poised in midair.
God smiles. "A mirror will suffice."
Welcome to Holland
by Emily Perl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."
But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.