Give Them Tomorrow

It all happened on that hot sunny day when my father rushed in suddenly from office and with the help of a neighbour, carried my mother into his car.
My mother had before then, told us she would be having a baby girl when we asked her why her stomach was protruding. The mention of that brought so much of joy to me as I had told her how desperate I was for a baby girl with whom I can play. On some days, I would stuff some old clothes into a wrapper and pretend to be nursing a baby in anticipation for a younger sister. Alas! Mother came back a week later with a ‘lessened’ stomach and no baby to show. On inquiries, I was told that the baby would have to stay in the hospital for a while before coming home as she was not ‘strong’ enough yet. After what seemed like eternity, my baby sister finally came home. She was pampered like an egg though she looked tinier than my friend’s baby. Mother said she was born prematurely (whatever that meant).
Overtime, I have come to know that mother had my baby sister prematurely. This was due to her hypertensive state which almost exposed her to preeclamsia. Women at risk of having premature babies are women that

     ü    Have previously had a baby prematurely
     ü    Smoke and abuse drugs
     ü   Are pregnant for more than one child
     ü   Are traumatised or injured
     ü    Have low weight
     ü   Have an infection or diabetes
     ü   Are malnourished etcetera

I understood that before my sister came home, she was placed in an incubator for some weeks and was fed breast milk through a tube that was passed into her nose. Some supplements were also introduced to her food to help build her lungs and other organs. I appreciate the reason for not being allowed to go near my baby sister till her body’s immunity was able to defend her well. At that time, my mother ensured that she had to:

  •  Be on top of her vaccinations 
  •   Be fed exclusively for six month 
  • Be taken for check-ups in the hospital
  • Be kept from overcrowded places.

All of these will help to prevent the complications that come with prematurity. These complications include breathing, heart, brain, gastrointestinal, blood and metabolism problems. Long term complications include cerebral palsy, impaired cognitive skills, vision and dental problems, chronic health problems, behavioural and psychological problems..
Thanks to my mother. All of the precautions helped my baby sister grow to become the great woman she is today. Every time I look back, see the hurdles she had to face and where she is today. I can only ask that we give the preemies tomorrow.
                                                  (This is based on a true story that was modified for this context.)
By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi

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