Did you know that over 450,000 babies are born premature in the United States every year? And 15,000,000 worldwide. Because of their early arrivals preemies are more susceptible to a myriad health issues including apnea, PDA (Patent Ductus Arteriosis ) and RDS (Respiratory Distress Syndrome ). But technology and science continue to evolve. In fact, a preemie born today has a much greater chance at survival compared to only 10 years ago.  Keep checking back for more factoids.

Preemie Fire

I'd like to talk a little about preemie fire.

I have mentioned it before in previous blog posts I have written.

When you have a baby in the NICU, you pray and hope for them to have this fire to fight. To fight for their life. The thing though, is that they can't leave that fire at the NICU doors. That fire will be ignited at certain times in their life – certain unexpected times.  We saw it a lot in the NICU.  We saw it when the doctors told us that our baby would not survive his first 12 hours.  We saw it when he struggled to breathe and his heart rate dropped and I had to call my husband and say the words no parent should ever have to say "I don't think he's going to die today, but I think you should be here..."  We saw it when our preemie didn't speak for almost 2 years.  We saw it when he struggled in kindergarten as we navigated our way around a new diagnosis of sensory processing disorder.  We see it fairly regularly in this preteen boy who is learning how to be independent while still just being a little boy. 

Sometimes you will roll your eyes and curse that preemie fire. Other times you will be so immensely thankful for it. I have seen it a few times over the last 12 years. I am mostly thankful.

We were reminded of the preemie fire recently and continue to see it come through and through – bubbling to the top – hoping for it to overflow.

Recently, our Little Bear was injured in a freak accident in a football game. He was tackled from behind and at some point in those split seconds, either his position or a helmet or a shoulder pad of the player tackling him, caused his hip to become dislocated. We heard a scream unlike anything we had ever heard come out of his mouth when the coaches tried to move him. 911 was called and an ambulance became our chariot.  I knew it wasn't good.

Something happened – I was in action mode. I couldn't get emotional. I had to think. I had 2 other children at the game and my husband was the coach. Several other parents came to my assistance and helped me manage the logistics of getting our things (you bring a lot of crap to football games, or maybe its just me). I packed that in the car and gathered my necessities for my ambulance ride. It really does take a village. I am so thankful for our friends who watched our other kids and really took care of us. Friends stepped up. For that, we are so grateful.

As I sat in the front seat of the ambulance, listening to that baby of mine back there trying to maintain composure and some semblance of comfort. It was a terrifying ride (not because of the driving), but because of what was ahead of us in terms of his medical care and needs. I have always been one to pull over the instant I hear sirens or see lights. Even if they are far ahead or behind me. I have seen the drivers who wait until the last possible second to get out of the way of these emergency vehicles. I am thankful to all of the drivers who pulled over and allowed us to pass them safely (PSA: Pull to the right for sirens and lights. PLEASE!). I am even more thankful to the medical professionals who took care of us in that ambulance.

Once we entered the ER more stress ensued (even more grateful than ever that we were at a football field that was only a few miles from a fantastic children's hospital). He was in a lot of pain. Xrays, doctors orders, viewing pictures, popping hip back in, he needs surgery. I honestly thought that with a dislocated hip, they'd pop it back in and he would walk out of the ER. How wrong I was.

He was scheduled for surgery the next morning. We were given the worst case scenario in terms of what would be done in that OR. Nothing really prepares you for your baby being wheeled away. I can't imagine that ever gets easy.

The good news was that there was very little repair that needed to be done.

We returned to his hospital room and he was visibly in less pain. He slept. I spent the night in the hospital with him. At 3am he was up, asking for pain meds, something to eat (he had not eaten for almost 48 hours) and once he had filled his belly with both, he asked when he could start PT (seriously, he was asking for Physical Therapy at 3am!). He was so eager to get up and moving.

This kid.

Preemie freakin' fire.

Three hours of PT less than 12 hours after surgery. He's a fighter. The physical therapist and nurses told him that he was a model patient. They wanted him to come back and speak with the other patients.

Preemie fire.

I can't really explain it any other way.

So, we're on the mend. He's home from school for 6 weeks, getting skyped into classes (he cannot sit up, so that would make school tough...that whole sitting thing).

Preemie Fire.

So, when you are in the NICU, you hope and pray for this fire. You cannot leave it at the NICU doors. They will tap into that gumption when they need it most. For that I am thankful.

As a side note or a p.s., I know we can never personally thank every single doctor, nurse, aide or anyone else that we came in contact with, but a HUGE shout out to the professionals at Advocate Children's Hospital. Top notch care. They took great care of their patient, but they also took care of us as parents. THANK YOU!!


Beth is the mom of 3 children. One preemie and two full termers. When she is not helping others through her Little Bear Foundation work, you can find her on the sidelines of a football field, basketball court, baseball field, soccer field or even an ice rink cheering on her amazing kids.