By Wendy Hobbs
Have you ever put much thought into charities? More specifically why do the people speak up and support these charities with their time and financial resources? How do you choose a charity? Well, I’m walking in the March for Babies walk because through the research funded in part by the March of Dimes, my twins were able to survive being born at 26 weeks. Until I had these kids, I had no idea what 26 week preemies meant so let me tell you a little bit about our adventure.
Being pregnant with twins, you are often told by your obstetricians that you are at a higher risk of having a premature birth. So, I had daily conversations with my twins, telling them how important it was for them to stay in there until at least 36 weeks. I was doing, or stopped doing, everything my doctor told me to do and everything appeared to be going fine. On March 9th 2007, I woke up at midnight, 12:08 to be exact, to go to the bathroom for the second or, third (who’s counting?) time and my water broke. Never in a million years did I think this would happen to me. My family had no history of premature birth, my husband’s family had no history of premature birth, and we both have a family history of carrying twins and they all did fine. Why in creation was this happening to me?
Off to the hospital I went. My doctors did everything possible to prevent early delivery and were successful in stopping labor for 2 days. The plan was to move me to the antepartum unit and keep me there until I was 34 weeks. I woke up March 11 telling my husband that something was terribly wrong. I had no idea what was wrong with me but I knew something was wrong. We called the nurse in and she in turn called the doctor. Although I had few signs or symptoms to offer him, he took me very seriously. Over the course of a couple of hours I began to spike a fever while on two antibiotics and my twins heart rates were increasing. After all that work to stop my labor, they ended up inducing me!
Because of the induction, a nurse practitioner from the NICU came up to explain preemies (26 weeker preemies) and the NICU. That information consisted of survival rates, all their potential medical problems, long term outcomes and if they survive, when you can anticipate them going home. Need I even say it…MELTDOWN! Yes, complete and total meltdown for this soon to be mom! I knew about my high risk of premature birth but I really didn’t know what impact prematurity had on babies. I just did not get it.
My son weighed 2lbs 6ozs and my daughter weighed 1lb 15ozs and both were 14 inches long. I learned quickly that many of the issues associated with premature birth are considered “normal”. I’m not making light of normal preemie stuff as some of them are very serious and at times life threatening. However, the physicians are accustomed to treating these things and actually expect them to happen. “Normal” preemie stuff is heart rates that decrease, babies forgetting to breath, babies not being able to maintain a normal temperature, feeding problems, anemia, jaundice, eye problems and so on. My son experienced a slew of “normal preemie stuff” but his biggest problem was breathing. His lungs just could not function without the assistance of a ventilator or bipap machine. My daughter was on a ventilator, had a pneumothorax, bowel obstruction, a head (brain) bleed, severe hydrocephalous, surgery for her head bleed, eye problems which required surgery and a multitude of “normal preemie stuff”.
After 77 and 88 days in NICU, they got to come home. Once home, my daughter struggled with severe reflux, stopped eating, became malnourished and had to be readmitted for another week. Every day when we went into the NICU we hoped and prayed for the best but expected the worst. One minute your child is making great progress and moments later they take three steps backwards. Unfortunately, that is just how it is in NICU.
My twins had their share of life threatening problems and until recently we were still being followed by a host of physicians and therapists. They are both doing extremely well and we are so appreciative to all the people that cared for our children and helped us in this adventure. It’s never far from our thoughts that, despite the best efforts, not all families experience such a joyful outcome.
To this day, my physicians have no idea what caused my son’s water to break, what went terribly wrong with me or why my twin’s heart rate shot up. Personally, I don’t think this is acceptable. So, choosing to support the March of Dimes/March for Babies was easy for our family.
Anyone that has given birth to a healthy baby should be first in line to support the March of Dimes. Discoveries funded by March of Dimes research help to not only prevent premature births but also provide knowledge to the many teams of medical professionals that care for premature babies and give them a much higher likelihood of survival. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all babies were born healthy? That’s the mission of March of Dimes. Are they reaching for the stars? Maybe… but our babies are worth the reach. If you have not found a charity to support or if you have room to support another, please consider the March of Dimes.
You can do this by walking with us on April 16th, 2011 Corpening Plaza, 231 West First Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101. Start your own team at: www.marchforbabies.com
Or join/donate to our family team www.marchforbabies.com/whobbs
April is the time for March for Babies! You can find a walk in every Triad city. See dates below. For more information on these walks, visit www.marchforbabies.com. Come out and support your local March of Dimes chapter!
High Point March for Babies – April 2, 2011
Winston-Salem March for Babies – April 16, 2011
Greensboro March for Babies – April 30, 2011