Auburn English instructor advocates for preemie babies on World Prematurity Day

Published: November 15, 2017
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Janelle Green can't be the only person at Auburn University whose life has been touched by a premature birth.

After all, the March of Dimes estimates about half a million babies are born premature or with birth defects each year in the U.S.

In 1991, Green was one of those children, born two months early. On Thursday, she will be at The University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital for the March of Dimes' celebration of World Prematurity Day, which is marked worldwide on Nov. 17.

Green, an instructor of English composition at Auburn University, said she got involved in the event last year as a way of advocating for preemies.

"It's a special day for those who are just like me," she said. "This day celebrates us for who we are and what it really means to be a part of the preemie family."

Johnny and Diane Green had a routine pregnancy and birth for their first child, a son named Rod. But Diane was hospitalized several times while pregnant with their second, a daughter named Janelle.

On Diane's last hospitalization, her doctors thought it best to deliver the baby early, around the 32-week mark. Janelle entered this world on May 16, 1991, weighing in at four pounds and five ounces. After a few days under observation, all the Greens were allowed to go home.

"I look at my baby clothes now and think, ‘Wow, I was so tiny. My clothes look like doll clothes,'" Janelle Green said. "It's amazing how far I've come."

While at UAB, Green said she will provide each family currently in the neonatal intensive care unit with a poetry broadside that she made. A couple of families will be gifted a painted tapestry specific to the occasion, also painted by Green.

"I am honored to be able to celebrate with other families this year. It's going to be a special day for all of us and I'm grateful for the opportunity," she said.

"We celebrate preemies all over the world—those who are with us and those we will never forget. It is definitely a day that humbles you."

Johnny Green is the assistant vice president for outreach in the Division of Student Affairs at Auburn University.