One of the tough lessons we learn as kids is that life just isn’t fair, but that lesson comes in different ways and often depends on things kids have no control over.
Where we live, the color of our skin and who we are born to are just a few factors that can affect the health of a pregnancy and the care a newborn receives.
My kids are lucky. I had excellent prenatal care, our home was just minutes from a hospital with a NICU that was staffed with every provider we could possibly need, we had health insurance that had no lifetime limitations and, because they are triplets, the hospital staff had been preparing specifically for us.
(It’s true that being triplets increased their risk of preterm birth, but it also increased our awareness and preparedness. The fact remains that premature birth can happen to anyone, but not everyone prepares as well as we were able to.)
Fairness counts less in matters of who got the biggest piece of pizza or whose cupcake has the most icing, but fairness is often a matter of life and death.
Tomorrow is World Prematurity Day. I hope you will consider how much fairness can matter.
As adults, we can take action by donating to March of Dimes, whose mission it is to continue researching ways to reduce the rate of premature births, research life-saving treatments and technologies (some of which saved the lives of Toby, Eleanor and Callista), expand access to healthcare for pregnant women and help healthcare providers improve risk detection and address risk factors. We can call our senators and stress to them the value of healthcare. We can thank obstetricians, neonatologists, nurses and countless other healthcare providers whose work saves lives.
For the younger participants of World Prematurity Day, fostering the basic idea that every person deserves a fair chance at a healthy life is one that can help shape a lifetime self-awareness, advocacy and service.
Wear purple tomorrow, talk to your kids about fairness, share information with others about the risks of prematurity, call your elected officials, donate to March of Dimes — whatever you do, I hope you will join us in calling attention to what is the leading cause of death for children worldwide. We can do better.