When a child is born preterm or with a special health care need, they face many challenges—from simply breathing on their own to regulating their body temperature to learning to eat from bottle or breast. Unfortunately, many face significant challenges—from the need for surgery just hours after birth to infection and brain bleeds. Once home, the challenges sometimes continue for many months and in some cases for a lifetime.
Even late term preemies (babies born between 34-36 weeks) often face medical and developmental challenges. For a preemie, there are often muscle tone, balance and information (both auditory and visual) processing delays which can postpone milestones and impede learning and school readiness.
As a parent, it is excruciating to watch your child struggle during a NICU stay. And those same feelings of guilt, frustration, fear, helplessness and exhaustion often persist long after a NICU stay as you work to provide your child with every opportunity to meet their full potential. That is why Hand to Hold’s Preemie Power Photo and Essay Contest is so important. The annual contest offers a way for parents to pause, reflect and celebrate the tremendous progress of their babies, infants and children. And in some cases, it is a time to remember and honor a child that was unable to overcome their mighty villains.