Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Prematurity Rant

I usually don't get caught up in "celebrity" stuff, but being Prematurity Awareness month I can't hold my tongue. 

Michelle Duggar (of the TLC show 19 Kids and Counting) is pregnant AGAIN.  She had her last baby at 25 weeks due to severe preeclampsia (read about her last pregnancy here).  She has an estimated 60% chance of developing that condition again with this pregnancy, to which the only cure is delivering her baby; so she has a 60% chance of having an extremely premature baby, who in turn has a high chance of not surviving, or suffering from life-long medical complications (read about extreme prematurity here). 

As you probably know, I had an extremely premature baby last year (at 24 weeks).  Doctors are still not positive why he came so early, but they think it was due to an infection of the amniotic fluid, or an incompetent cervix.  I had a surgical procedure to strengthen my cervix (I am currently 22 weeks preggo and holding strong!), and I am being monitored for any infections or signs of preterm labor.  In short, although I had one preemie, the odds are not in my favor of having another one (unlike the Duggar baby  machine).  I'm saying this to qualify myself as someone who can speak her 2 cents.

You may be asking "Why does it matter if she has another one?"  Well, for one thing, the nature of preeclampsia is so dangerous, that seeing as she already has 19 kids and 2 gandkids, it is an extreme risk to impose on herself and her unborn baby.  Along with the stress on the rest of the family that accompanies having a baby in intensive care, preemies as early as hers is likely to be have medical problems that last long after hospital discharge.  My son Jonathan, for example, is 16 months old and is still undergoing physical therapy; breathing treatments; brain MRIs every 6-12 months; and monthly vaccinations to protect him from a common cold virus (RSV).  And he is considered a 24-weeker miracle!  Many babies born before 28 weeks have all these problems but to a more debilitating degree.

In addition to the health risk to her and her baby, a preemie costs a lot of money.  I am sure the Duggars' insurance and money from their TV show is sufficient to pay any hospital bills, but taxpayers can still end up footing at least some of the bill  Any baby born below 1200 grams automatically qualifies for disability under SSI and receives Medicaid during and for up to a year after their hospital stay.  NICUs are expensive places:  Jonathan's total bill was over $1,000,000, and he was only there 4 months!  (I say "only" because there are many babies, some born later than him, who stay much longer).  If you continue to qualify for Medicaid after discharge (which baby Duggar may or may not), it pays for all medical treatments then, too.

In short, considering the tremendous burden she is putting on her body, plus the cost of having a preemie and the health risk she is running with her unborn baby I say why take a chance on having another unhealthy pregnancy and birth?  It is not fair to the baby, knowing that he or she may have to fight for their life for months in a hospital.  It isn't fair to ask your family to sacrifice and go through the horrible NICU experience again.  In some cases, having a preemie is preventable, even if that means you just don't get pregnant anymore.  Having a uterus does not mean you should use it!

Side note:  I realize there is a chance she will have a totally healthy pregnancy and carry full term, and I sincerely pray that is God's plan for her.  I know God can heal and accomplish things when doctors and statistics say it isn't possible.  That being said, I still believe in human responsibility and decision-making.  I could consider walking across I-4 as cars zoom by at 70 MPH and trust that God loves me and will care for me, but the chances of me getting hit and killed by a car are so good that I probably wouldn't take that chance.  God loves me so much that he gave me a functional brain with which to process such information and make the best decision I can.  I am thankful for that, and pray others would use their brains, too.

Thanks for letting me rant!

1 comment:

Kelly Ann said...

I agree COMPLETELY!!! I think you are right and 100% justified in saying so. :)

And yay for being 22 weeks and healthy!!!! :)

kelly ann jones