Today is World Prematurity Day, a day to celebrate our children who were born too soon, and to remember those who did not make it. It's especially poignant this year, following the awful death this week of a young woman and her unborn child in a Galway Hospital. Surely this shouldn't still be happening? It reminded me yet again of the birth of my special girl, and what might have happened to both of us.
Smiley was born in 1996, weighing 875 gms or 1lb 15 oz and was a footling breech birth. Almost everything else about her birth is not clear.
I say 26 weeks, they say 27.
I say I was in labour for 3 days, they say a few hours.
I say her head got stuck for more than 15 minutes and one set of hospital records says a few minutes.
So I have lots of questions:
How safe is it to leave women and their unborn babies after losing their waters?
Why wasn't I put on an antibiotic drip when an infection was detected after 2 weeks?
Why was nothing done while I had contractions for 3 days?
Why did no-one try to stop full labour commencing?
Why was just given pethidine when I couldn't sleep for the third day in a row?
Why was I barely monitored that night?
When it was discovered that the baby was a footling breech presentation, why was a decision taken to let me give birth normally?
Would my daughter have fewer problems if she had been born by caesarean section?
I tried to find out the answers to these questions, but no-one wants to tell you. No-one wants to admit that they may have taken the wrong decision.
And my understanding is that no-one is now allowed to give birth naturally to a pre-term baby in the footling breech position. So perhaps something has been learned from Smiley's birth.
But this is ancient history, I hear you cry.. Well is it?
After this week I wonder again how safe it is to be a woman if your pregnancy does not go to plan. One of my daughters will be disabled for life, and the other may have children of her own. One day she may be in a hospital feeling frightened for herself and her unborn baby. So for the sake of my daughters I would love to have some answers.
For more information on World Prematurity Day check out these sites:
Tommy's for information on research
Bliss for support in the UK for premature birth
Irish Premature Babies for Irish readers