Tribute to Micro Preemies

April 29, 2010

Isn’t it amazing that there are preemies that survive which are born as early as 23 and 24 weeks?  It’s almost unfathomable to me.  These babies are truly miracle babies.

21 week preemieMy first baby was born at 21 weeks and 2 days gestation.  He weighed 12 oz and was 10 1/4 inches long and his heart was beating strong.  (The picture is my baby boy) The hospital staff told us that he was too young to survive and they did not take any measure to save our boy, they simply swaddled him in a blanket and handed him to us so we could hold him while he lived and while he passed away.  At the time, I accepted their judgment and felt peace in my heart while my boy’s spirit lingered with us.  My husband was discouraged, however, that our boy was born alive and they simply left him for dead with no attempts at saving him.

The staff told us that unless a baby was 24-25 weeks along they did not try to save the babies, and at that age they had to try and decide if it was worth rescuing the babies or not because of the difficult journey the baby would have, the possible lifelong problems, and the low chance of survival.

It wasn’t until my husband and I started confiding in our friends about the loss of our tiny preemie that I ever questioned the judgment of the hospital that delivered my boy.  People would tell us about their nieces or nephews that were born around 23 weeks who survived and lived a strong and happy life.  One friend told us that he was born at 21 weeks (however, I tend to doubt his memory).

When I hear survival stories of 23-weekers that were about the size of our 21-weeker I am amazed and inspired.  What a journey they must have endured, and what a trial for the parents who watched their preemie suffer through so much!

I know all preemie babies are miracles; I certainly experienced my own miracles with my 27-weeker and with my full-term baby.  But I am truly in awe of micro preemies that beat all odds against them in their first few weeks of life.

Out of curiosity, I just did a little research about the earliest surviving micro preemie (as of Feb 2007), named Amillia Sonja Taylor, who was born at 21 weeks and 6 days gestation on October 24, 2006.  You can read about it on MSNBC or on Incredible Births.  These articles say she is the only preemie who has survived being born earlier than 23 weeks.  Amazing.

Definition of a Micro Preemie

A micropreemie or micro preemie is defined as a baby that is under 1 3/4 pounds (between 700-800 grams) and is generally born before 26 weeks gestation, but most people prefer to loosen this term up to include any baby under 3 pounds (1500 grams) or under 29 weeks gestation.

I guess my 27-weeker fits in the broader definition of a micro preemie having been 1168 grams at birth.

To all you parents of micro preemies, would you share with us a little about your tiny miracle?