World prematurity day- By Holly Tuke

17th of November marks World Prematurity Day, a day that’s very important to me. It’s a day to raise awareness of premature birth. I never knew that World Prematurity Day was a thing until a few years ago, but it’s something that’s stuck with me ever since.

I was born prematurely at 24 weeks and weighed 1lbs 6oz, which is less than a bag of sugar. For the first few weeks of my life, I was kept alive in an incubator .

My parents found out that I developed Retinopathy of Prematurity and from that moment, they were introduced to the world of vision impairment.

I’m now 25, and still proud to have been a premature baby.

Here’s why World Prematurity Day is so special to me.

It makes me stop and reflect on how far I’ve come

On this day, I always take a moment to stop and think about my life with a vision impairment. I take a moment to think about how far I’ve come, what I’ve achieved despite the odds, and the things I hope to achieve in the future. Things have been far from easy, but I’ve got through what has come my way, and I don’t often pause to think about that. Life can be extremely hectic, but sometimes we just need to take a moment to just stop, think and reflect. That should be the motto for many aspects of our lives.

Blind and vision impaired people can face many obstacles and hurdles which may feel like an uphill battle at times, but we should be proud of getting through them.

 

Thinking about the children we have lost due to premature birth.

I had a twin called Natalie, but sadly she didn’t survive. World Prematurity Day is something I honour and hold close to my heart in her memory, because I know that she’s looking down on me and my family.

Every single premature baby that we’ve sadly lost should always be remembered. World Prematurity Day is the perfect time to show them some love, because that’s what they deserve.

Proving that having a vision impairment doesn’t stop you from achieving or succeeding

There are probably hundreds of anxious parents up and down the country right now, wondering what life will be like for their little bundle of joy born prematurely. For those children diagnosed with an eye condition such as Retinopathy of Prematurity, their family bubble has changed forever.

But it doesn’t have to be seen as a bad change.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, having a vision impairment can enrich your life in so many ways. I’ve been lucky enough to have some incredible opportunities which I wouldn’t have had if it wasn’t for my vision impairment. I’m passionate about helping other blind and vision impaired people, my own experiences give me the drive and determination to do that. I know what it’s like to grow up with a vision impairment; I’ve experienced the good, the bad and the ugly. I want other blind and vision impaired people to know that they’re not alone.

It took me many years to learn to love and embrace my vision impairment, so I want to help others on their own journey.

I started my blog, Life of a Blind Girl in 2015 to discuss all things vision impairment and disability. It’s safe to say that without my vision impairment, my blog wouldn’t even exist. Granted, I may have started a blog about something else, but I can’t help feeling that it wouldn’t have been the same.

There seems to be a negative portrayal of vision impairment, but that’s not the reality. It’s important that having a vision impairment or any other disability can come with challenges, but there are also a ton of positives.

 

It’s a chance to raise awareness

I spend a lot of time raising awareness of vision impairment and disability, educating others and striving for change. It’s something I am extremely passionate about, and something that I love to do.

For me, raising awareness gives me the ability to help others, educate society and tackle some of the misconceptions surrounding vision impairment in the hope to create an accessible society for everyone. I take pride in the work I do surrounding vision impairment and disability, it fills me with so much joy.  Raising awareness is really important to me, but it feels even more important on these sort of days.

Having these awareness days in the calendar reminds me of the importance of raising awareness and the true impact it can have.  Parents navigating the world of vision impairment need the support of the community, so that they can get all of the help and information they need, and support their child.

By sharing my story and raising awareness allows myself and others to show parents that their child can lead the life they want to, despite having a vision impairment.

 

It’s a chance to mark the fact that I’m proud to be a prem baby

I think we should celebrate our disability. This day also gives me the added opportunity of celebrating being a premature baby.

Being a premature baby is something to be proud of, we’re fighters, we’re resilient and we’re determined.  World Prematurity Day is a chance to really celebrate being a premature baby, all the obstacles we’ve overcome and be proud of what brought us into the world. It’s our time to shine.

It’s a chance for parents to look back on those days of premature birth and embrace their feelings. I’m sure that parents will feel a range of emotions, please know that it’s okay to feel that way.

And to anyone that was a premature baby reading this, be proud of who you are.  World Prematurity Day fills me with so much pride. It also makes me think about my twin Natalie and what life would have been like if she was here. Take a moment to mark this day and celebrate it, but also stop and think about all of the premature babies that are sadly no longer with us.

 

World Prematurity Day will forever hold a special place in my heart.

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