24 weeks of pregnancy feels like a turning point. It is at this stage that abortion becomes illegal and the baby is officially “viable” with a really good chance of surviving if it were to be born prematurely.
Fortunately I haven’t had any signs that the baby might come early and there is no reason to worry about this, but at the same time, I’ve become suddenly and vividly aware that theoretically they could arrive at any time. The many reasons for a premature birth include bacterial infections and problems with the cervix – while you can combat some of these to a certain extent earlier in the pregnancy, there is often very little you can do and for a first-time mum like me there might not be any indication of an issue until it’s too late.
A few years ago I did some volunteering for the special care baby charity, Bliss. Seeing their work from an insider’s perspective was definitely an eye-opening experience that made me realise what miracles are possible. I was worried the stories and images might be distressing but in fact they gave me a lot more confidence in the capabilities of the NHS (yes, really!) It is heartening to know there are charities like Bliss out there to help and support parents of premature and special care babies.
Of course, being born too soon can be a tragedy and a different point of view on the issue is here. The question remains whether the baby is capable of growing up and having any kind of quality of life. Personally I believe that where there is life, there is hope, but each situation is unique.
On a lighter note, the swiftly approaching third trimester has brought another pressing thought into my mind: shopping! If the baby is born early, chances are it will need to live in an incubator for weeks or months, giving us time to buy everything we need… but I’d rather get organised in advance. If our baby is in hospital I expect the last thing we’ll want to think about is scratch mitts, so I feel the time to buy buy buy is now!