Last Night’s episode of Insight focussed on one question: how far should we go to save extremely premature babies? Here a mother posts her response.
I haven’t spoken much about that part of our ‘journey’ through prematurity. In part, I have kept it to myself because I am afraid of the judgement that will follow, not the least of which is from myself. Partly, it’s still just too raw. And partly, every day we try and let it go – all the strange and surreal feelings we are yet to process about the experience as a whole.
Last night SBS aired an Insight titled Edge of Life which discussed the feasibility of resuscitating 23 week gestation preemies at birth. The program brought to light one of the great taboos in the premmie community – given the known outcomes, should 23 weekers be resuscitated, or are the ongoing medical costs, quality of life probabilities and low survival rates reason enough to withdraw support?
This postulation probably seems completely foreign to most parents. Given the choice, would you not choose to give your baby every chance? While Insight did an admirable job in a very short period of time in discussing the legal, medical and ethical considerations and of introducing stories from families that have been in a position to make such a life changing decision, it is nearly impossible to give these stories real context to an outsider.
Many may have found it harrowing to watch and to hear the stories of the families affected by extreme prematurity. Some of the families had lost their little ones at or soon after birth, some had lifelong and extreme disabilities and some had survived against the odds. In some cases, when presented with the statistics, parents had chosen not to resuscitate their babies and in some cases they had requested any necessary support be given to save their tiny child. This is such a difficult concept to understand or explain.
One story from last night’s episode: “My partner and I were advised at 26 weeks to abort our pregnancy.”
But, in the interest of a deeper understanding and greater awareness of a circumstance which affects 8% of babies born in Australia it is certainly worth a try.
I think in light of the bravery shown by the parents on last night’s Insight, it is time for me to come clean. Some of this I have alluded to before, but today I’m going to give the whole truth. I hope this gives the debate some context. Please understand this is my story. It is unique just like everybody else’s. And all of the players did everything they knew how to save my child.
On the day of that fateful scan, the one where I was rushed into delivery at 23 weeks they told me she would die. They told me – in no uncertain terms – that there was nothing they could do and that babies at this gestation were not ever resuscitated. We cried. A lot. We sobbed at times. That 48 hours waiting for her, my healthy beautiful girl darting around on the ultrasound screen, to make her entrance and pass away. To hold her as she died. We waited for that, wishing it would happen sooner rather than later because at the time we had been given no hope and prolonging this acute pain seemed cruel and unnecessary.