Existere asks an excellent question – what happens if the baby arrives before 26 weeks?
I have heard of babies surviving and thriving when born as early as 22 weeks. Obviously, the chances arent good, but they improve with every week. At 26 weeks gestation, NICU is government mandated, that is, all babies born after 26 weeks get the care they need.
Before 22 weeks, no hospital will take extra-ordinary measures to prolong life.
So what happens between 22 and 26 weeks? The parents have to decide.
Around 23 weeks, well meet with a neonatologist who will give us a tour of the NICU, and discuss various outcomes with us. At that point we are supposed to write a birth plan, with our care decisions outlined. Obviously, they arent going to recommend NICU for this baby before 23 weeks. And I suppose well make up our minds once we have more information.
That being said, we have lung maturity as the great unknown. If this baby is born at 36 weeks, it might still not have enough lung development to be able to survive, its all a big gamble. But if the lungs are ok, what other issues might we be dealing with before 26 weeks, I just dont know, and I am not up to doing the research just now.
So while I wont want to be caring for a profoundly disabled child when I am 80, I am also going to find it impossibly difficult to just give up on this life I have fought so hard for. And each day, each week, will only make that decision harder.