Preemies born at 22 weeks or less should not be kept alive artificially

Filed under: Your Pregnancy, Health & Safety: Babies, Development/Milestones: Babies

A new study by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics recommends that infants born at 22 weeks, or prior, should not be revived, nor should they be given intensive care. The report comes after researching premature babies over the course of two years. The Nuffield Council took into account the advances in medicine that give hospitals the ability to keep extremely premature babies alive outside the womb. They also looked at the numbers of preemies treated that did not survive even with treatment, or went on to have disabilities.

This study is highly controversial, to say the least. Anyone who knows a preemie would find it hard to agree to pull the plug. Even if the chances are remote that your child could survive, I think any parent would opt to try. I guess one has to look at the bigger picture. Parenting is a sacrifice. If I child's quality of life is at stake, perhaps the biggest sacrifice is letting go. It's hard to imagine a baby who has been in the womb for just over half of a typical gestation period being able to grow up problem-free. But how does one walk away?

Like any prenatal complication, I suppose the process of grieving is the same. Even thinking about being faced with this specific situation makes me hug my family tighter. I know about complications. (Pregnant women may want to click away.) My son was pulled out of me via emergency C-section. He had an APGAR score of 3. Though the nurse came to me and said, "Congratulations, you have a healthy baby boy," I didn't buy it. I did not see him until 3 hours later when the NICU released him. We had skin-to-skin contact, he nursed, and then he had a seizure in my arms.

What ensued were nine days that went from hell to heaven. Nine days that felt like nine years. Nine days of different scenarios being thrown at us before a decision was reached. My son had had a stroke.

I didn't know that infants could have strokes -- in utero, no less. They told us he would have motor skills problems, possibly cerebral palsy. I didn't care, I just wanted him home with us. Thankfully he seems to have recovered. He's growing up healthy and meeting his developmental milestones. But there were times when it seemed like this wouldn't be the case. And even if the worst case-scenario had happened and I was asked if I would do it all over again, I would. It would be tough, but knowing my son is what makes me richer. Knowing my son can walk is beautiful, but if he couldn't, I'd love him just the same.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.