November is Prematurity Awareness Month.
I’m not a preemie mom. But after the birth of Ellie in February 2010 I had postpartum depression and anxiety, and during that time started my jewelry business to try and help distract myself, and give myself a creative outlet and some me time. During that period, through a series of events related to that business I met Julie. Julie is an incredible mom who’s son Spencer was due right around Ellie’s due date in February, but instead was born on Black Friday in November 2009 (at exactly 29 weeks.)
Spencer spent 64 days in the NICU.
When I met Julie, we instantly became friends. She is an amazingly courageous woman who weathered her incredibly stressful premature birth, NICU stay and the diagnosis of her son with a rare brain malformation with strength, pride and love. Her passion really touches my heart. Around the time we met, she launched her own small business on Labor Day 2010 It’s a Preemie Thing, which sells adorable wearables and products for preemie families. But in addition to that, she runs an invaluable Facebook page that has truly become a support community for preemie families. She has over 5,000 very active users who share their stories, joys and challenges with each other each week. And she also has a blog.
I tell you all of this by way of explaining how I myself have become an advocate for preemie parent mental health. Her passion has become a passion of mine.
Parents of premature infants go through challenges that those of us with “termies” could never even imagine. Not being able to hold your baby after his or her birth. Managing work and life with your precious child in the hospital for days and weeks on end. Starting your parenthood experience with more stress than you ever thought possible. It’s no wonder why so many parents of premature babies end up with postpartum mood and anxiety disorders. In fact the National Institutes of Health state that “mothers of preterm infants are at higher risk of depression than mothers of term infants in the immediate postpartum period.”
I have seen through Julie’s work, that support from others who understand life with a premature child is key to managing mental health. In fact, building community is key for fighting and thriving through any health challenge. So today I’d like to invite all of you who are preemie moms to introduce yourselves in the comments and share your preemie child with us.
And if you are interested in sharing the story of your preemie journey, and how much you have learned about motherhood and life because of it, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re spreading Purple Preemie Pride this month at Motherhood Unadorned!