A Day in the Life of This SLP: Love & Strength
In my life, beginning with my Mom, many of the people who are most dear to me were born prematurely with varying degrees of challenges associated with their prematurity.
We have been fortunate, beginning in 1925 with my Mom weighing less than 2 pounds, to share in healthy lives filled with love.
My Mom told stories about how she was placed in a shoebox filled with cotton under lights to keep her warm. Of course, we thought she exaggerated… until we met others born too early during similar times who independently shared their version of the same story.
However, globally 15 million babies are born too soon with prematurity as the leading cause of death worldwide for children under the age of five years.
According to the March of Dimes, “This is a critical moment in our fight. In 2016, the nation’s preterm birth rate worsened for the first time in eight years.” The current 2020 MOD report shares, “For the 5th year in a row, too many babies were born preterm! In 2019, the U.S. preterm birth rate rose to 10.2 percent of births, earning the nation a “C-” grade. In 2018, the grade was a “C.” In 2014 the preterm birth rate was 9.57. For women of color, the risks of preterm birth are 50% more than their counterparts.” Learn more at the MOD report card page.
My personal experience is shared above, but my professional experience with premature infants and their families is also deeply integrated into my more than 40 years as a pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist.
I would be remiss if I neglected to share that November is also Alzheimer’s Awareness and Family Caregivers month and that this cause is also designated by the color purple.
In preparing this post, it comes to mind that as a young child, when asked what my favorite color was, I would always respond “purple”.
When asked what color my great grandmother should make my afghan blanket, again, I responded, “purple”.
This was naturally challenged by the matriarchs in my family as an unusual request, however, one that was fulfilled with much love, time, and many shades of purple.
I am reminded that I again chose purple, 30-ish years later, when given the opportunity to select a new afghan while awaiting the arrival of our second son.
Surely, I had no way to know that my personal life and professional life would be reflective of my early childhood favorite color.
But it seems, I have been surrounded by purple and all that it has come to mean for these causes from the smallest in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units to the adults who cross my path with Alzheimer’s, again both personally and professionally.
There are many meanings for the color purple, but I would like to suggest that it symbolizes love and strength for our preemies, our seniors, and all of us in-between… as we are the caregivers for those we love.
This November, go purple, choose to learn more about premature births, Alzheimer’s disease and how you can help our tiniest and often oldest loved ones.
Embrace and thank those official (medical) caregivers who work 24/7, as they can not be thanked enough.
AND, share gratitude with the “unofficial” caregivers…our family, friends, often strangers, and of course, ourselves. As we are all family caregivers.
A day of love and strength in the life of This SLP,