On World Prematurity Day I find myself wondering about what life I would have had if I wasn't born early
NationalWorld reporter Rochelle Barrand has often questioned how her life would have been different, had she not been born ten weeks premature
I've often wondered about the many ways in which my life could have been different, and that's because I was born a lot earlier than I should have been. I was born 10 weeks premature to be exact.
My birthday is in August, but my mum wasn't expecting me to arrive in to this world until October. Today (Friday November 17) marks World Prematurity Day, an annual day which raise awareness of preterm birth and the concerns of premature babies and their families worldwide. Approximately 15 million babies are born preterm each year, accounting for about one in 10 of all babies born worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation. It's perhaps a lot more common than some may think.
I am a twin, which means that my mum was somewhat expecting my brother and I to come a little earlier than our due date as twins and triplets are more likely to be born early, according to the NHS. But there's early and then there's early! The account she's since told my brother Keelan and I is that I was quite happy to stay put, it was he who decided he wanted to make an early entrance. In the end, in August 1993, Keelan was born just one minute before me via caesarean section - something else which is common for multiple births.
As I grew up, I always pondered how my life could have been different if I'd have been born in October. For a start, I'd have have an autumn birthday rather than a summer birthday so I am grateful to my brother for being impatient as I love having a birthday in the middle of summer. Or, I did when I was young as an sunshine-filled August could be relied upon more then than it is now, thanks to climate change. But, when I was in education, it at least always meant that my birthday was in the summer holidays and so I'd always be off school, rather than having a two in seven chance of having the day off. Now I'm a working adult I have to book my birthday off work like everybody else, of course, although Keelan is a primary school teacher so he still has summer holidays . . . which I'm a little bit jealous of.
One small downside, however, is that trying to plan my birthday celebrations has always been difficult as August is prime-time for people to take their holidays. I remember Keelan and I handing out party invites at school and being told by a lot of people that they couldn't make it because the week of our birthday was when their family took their annual trip. It was disappointing, but there were always some friends who could come and we enjoyed our parties a lot.
This is an issue that comes up every year, even in adulthood, but these days it just gives me another excuse to celebrate a birthday month - as if I really need it - as I often end up have different celebrations with different friends on separate dates as it's too hard to try to get all my nearest and dearest together on one day in August. I'm not sure this would have been any different if my birthday was in October as everyone is very busy at all times of year!
One big thing that stands out in my mind is that Keelan and I ended up being the babies of our school year, but if we were born when we should have been we would have been the eldest of the year below. That would have changed our lives paths dramatically, I am sure. We would have grown up with a completely different set of peers and made a different group of friends. What impact would that have had? Friends are such an integral part of life, and they can have huge influences on the decisions that we make as well as inspire certain traits in us, especially when we are growing and changing anyway, so I'm sure if I'd had a different set of friends I would have been different myself in some ways. Quite how, I'll never know of course. It remains one of the many mysteries of my sliding doors life.
Being in the year below would have also meant we would have been in the first year group to face university fees of more than £9,000 as we would have begun studying for my journalism degree in 2012, the year this increased fee was introcuded. Instead, we began university in 2011 and were among the last intake to pay the significantly lower fees of around £3,000 a year. I have thanked my brother many times for ensuring that we weren't saddled with an extortionate amount of student debt.
I have often wondered if my likes, dislikes and tastes would have still been the same if I hadn't been born prematurely, or if the experiences I would have had by doing everything in life several months later would have meant that I would have found a new passions. Would I still have fallen in love with reading and writing? Would I have wanted to be a journalist? Would I even be sat here typing these words? Even if I had have still been the same person and decided that I wanted to be a journalist, my job was available at a certain point in time, and the exact role wouldn't have been available 12 months later. So, could I have found myself working for another publication altogether? (Although I'm sure it would have still been a NationalWorld title).
I think of all the people I have met in my life and it's crazy to think that if I'd have been born 10 weeks later the chances are I would have never have met them. This, of course, brings up the whole concept of fate. Would I have still met my best friends? Would I have still met my boyfriend? I like to think that no matter what I was meant to meet those people as I am a believer in fate, but I'll never know. Would a change in date of birth have affected my destiny?
There's so many questions I can ask; would I still live in the same town, for example? Another big thing for me is that I bought my first house, in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, in August 2021. We didn't know it back then, of course, but we were on the brink of the cost of living crisis getting worse than ever and I secured my home at what I believe to be one of the last times we had when mortgage rates were more reasonable. Within months of me completing on my home, prices had gone through the roof, (excuse the pun), so I'm quite certain that I wouldn't have been able to buy my house any later than what I did. . . Thank you again Keelan for insisting we arrive in August.
Although I have always posed these questions in my mind, I've never wished my life was any different. I love my life; I'm very grateful for all of my loved ones, for my home and for my job. I wouldn't change one single thing. I think, if anything, it was my destiny to be born prematurely.