The Little People: Prematurity Awareness Month

You may recall that I wrote about my love affair with my severely premature the born niece.

No don’t get scared off – you don’t haveto hear about how wonderful she is again, how acutely sensitive she is to others’ needs, how she’ll drop me a text from time to time just to say she loves me.

I’ll skip to something far more relevant, especially right now, as people try to sign up for insurance, and face the equivalent of the blue screen of death. For as much as we in America pride ourselves on having the best care in the world, it happens to be that precisely no one else– even after extensive research – agrees with us. The most expensive health care? We win hands down. The best? Not on your life – literally.

My sister – the one who brought us my special premie niece Sophie, before we had regular niece and nephew programming – married an Englishman (couldn’t resist that accent, I bet) and, before I knew it, was over the pond, living in a small hamlet in the UK.

In due time we had the exciting news that she was expecting – although all too soon we had the much – less – than exciting news that she had preeclampsia, and the scary news kept coming, until my sister was in the hospital, dreadfully sick, and to save both baby and mother–in short– it was time for my niece to come – even though of course, at 27.5 weeks, it was no time to come at all.


In England they were quick to put the patient ‘in hospital’ (as they say), even for days they thought might be just watching. She didn’t have a limit of hospital days on her insurance plan. There was no issue of preapproval. Here was a very sick expectant mother. So they pulled out all the stops.

And there is no doubt that saved my little niece’s life. As my sister sickened and as her preeclampsia  became a full blown case of eclampsia, the doctors pumped in steroids to hasten lung development.

I’d like you to hear my sister’s thoughts on her English prenatal experience in her own words:


Both Barry and I just wanted to make the point that our health care cost in the UK was 0, which  would have been over $70,000 here in the US– and that was almost 12 years ago

Actually, I think it was 1000 pound a day for 70 days in the hospital.  So well over $100,000  for mediocre treatment.
The UK was doing kangaroo care and a lot of other cutting edge treatments before the US ever got them.
I think one of the most important things was that we had a midwife come to the house as opposed to having to go to a clinic every week or month. That was just for prenatal care.  They gave postnatal care at the home as well

I  spent a lot of time in the hospital before both children were born, which probably prevented them from being born even earlier than they were;  again the cost was–drum roll please– 0.

In fact, I had my preeclamsia seizure in the hospital.  I could have died as well as little Sophie if I hadn’t been in the hospital in the first place.

Finally, Barry and I stayed overnight in the hospital with Sophie the night before we went home. We had our own little hotel-like suite.

As Ricky Ricardo would say to Lucy, we in the US have “some s’plaining to do.”

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