24 Weeks

by Jen on February 6, 2008

in Does this baby make me look fat?

Yes, as of today, I’ve reached the big “24 weeks” viability milestone. (Or as of yesterday, according to my OB, who uses last menstrual period instead of ovulation to calculate due date).

A great deal is made of this milestone on pregnancy forums (and by some doctors), and although I’m glad to have reached it, I know that it’s really no guarantee that a baby born this early would survive. The March of Dimes website’s Fact Sheet on Preterm Birth doesn’t even give a survival rate for a birth at 24 weeks (the earliest they give statstics for is 26 weeks, at which the survival rate is 80%, although 25% of these babies will have serious, lasting disabilities).

So, for me the relief is only in knowing that at least the baby would have a chance and the hospital would be willing to fight for him.

By 28-31 weeks gestation, the survival rate climbs to 90-95 %, so 28 weeks is the next real milestone to which I’m looking forward. I have a real-life friend whose son was born at 30 weeks last spring and he’s doing well. He spent two months in the NICU and another month in a step-down facility before coming home. He was also on an apnea monitor at home for several months, and has made several return stays in the hospital (most recently for croup), but overall is doing well. I also know a make-believe friend who has a 3-year-old 30-weeker who is bright and healthy (the woman is real, its only the part about calling her a friend that’s the make-believe part, since I only stalk her via the internet). So although delivery at 30 weeks is still a rough road, that’s when I’ll start to feel even a tiny bit comfortable.

Of course, 34 weeks is when I feel the most comfortable. Completely comfortable, if you want to be honest, and probably more comfortable than I should. Not only were Old Christine’s twin sons born at 34 weeks (12 day NICU stay and now the healthiest 10-year-olds I know), but the Monkeyboy was born at 34 weeks (5 days in the NICU). Technically, you’re not out of the woods at 34 weeks, but the Monkeyboy was an ounce over what’s considered low birthweight (he was 5 pounds, 9 ounces), didn’t use a second of oxygen and could nipple all of his feedings (with help). In the grand scheme of things, he was barely a preemie. But it was still stressful. He was hooked up to monitors and slept in an incubator. He didn’t come home with me. Breastfeeding was a challenge at first because he wasn’t ready and needed help. We worried about his health, he had extra checkups and weigh-ins, and got the RSV vaccine. He had some delayed milestones the first year.

And 34 weeks is still ten weeks away.

Excuse me for sounding pessimistic. Today I’m wearing a red maternity shirt I bought while pregnant with the Monkeyboy. I bought it so I had something that looked somewhat festive to wear around Thanksgiving and in December 2005. This morning I took off the tags and wore it for the first time.

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