By Jamie Southern
If you have children, then your life has been touched by the March of Dimes. The March of Dimes is all about babies – those born healthy and those that need help to survive and grow. It’s an organization that advocates for the needs of moms and babies. This organization is trying to make sure that all babies are born healthy by preventing birth defects and prematurity and eliminating infant mortality. The March of Dimes’ largest fundraiser each year is the March for Babies walk. The 2010 Winston-Salem walk will be held April 17th at Bolton Park.
Little did I know that my family would come to need the help and research of the March of Dimes. When I found out that I was pregnant in February 2007 we were surprised and excited when our first ultrasound showed twins and shocked and terrified when the second ultrasound showed triplets!
I did not have what one would consider an easy pregnancy. I had small problems along the way and at 15 weeks we were met with devastating news about our Baby C. He had little to no amniotic fluid, and we were told that he would not survive and that this could be bad for his identical twin, Baby B. Our doctor did not expect to see a heartbeat at the ultrasound the following week. We went home and basically mourned the loss of our son. While never gaining more amniotic fluid, he grew and fought on and shocked our doctor.
At 23 weeks I was hospitalized for preterm labor. After a horrible night on magnesium sulfate the doctors were thankfully able to stop my labor. I was admitted to the hospital for the duration of my pregnancy. Unfortunately that was only for two more weeks. At 25 weeks I went back into labor and this time it could not be stopped. Our triplets, Lindy, Will, and Adam entered the world, weighing between 1lb 9oz and 1lb 14oz. They were all around 12 inches long.
They were immediately whisked to the NICU where they began the fight of their lives. A few hours after delivery, we knew Adam “Baby C” (pictured above) was not doing well. With almost no amniotic fluid, his lungs could not mature in the womb. He fought for 12 hours before he passed away. We are grateful that he was born alive and that we got to meet him, hold him, and love him.
Lindy and Will were very sick babies in the NICU. They were so small and sick that it was over a month before we held Lindy and over one and a half months before we held Will. Will dealt with very sick lungs and two intestinal surgeries during his NICU stay. Lindy had eight surgeries for a hole in her heart, severe brain hemorrhages resulting in hydrocephalus and the need for a shunt, and severe retinopathy of prematurity (an eye condition common in premature babies). It was heartbreaking to watch our tiny babies go through so much in their first few months of life.
Will came home after 100 days in two different NICU’s and Lindy finally came home after 143 days in three different NICU’s. Lindy came home and stayed on supplemental oxygen for almost eight months. Lindy was diagnosed with severe vision and hearing loss and received glasses and hearing aids a few months after coming home. The babies came home with an insane schedule of doctors’ visits and therapy appointments. Thanks to the therapy and hard work, the kids are doing amazing at two and a half years old. Although they have ongoing and lifelong issues related to their prematurity, they have come so very far.
Research funded by the March of Dimes provided medicines and procedures that helped save Will and Lindy’s lives. The March of Dimes has touched your life if you took folic acid before and during early pregnancy to prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord, if you had a healthy baby due in part to good prenatal care at home and from your doctor, if your baby received a vaccine to prevent polio, if your baby received a newborn screening to check for dangerous but treatable conditions or if your baby was born prematurely.
More than 500,000 babies are born prematurely each year in the United States. Over 320 babies are born prematurely in North Carolina every week. The money raised at the March for Babies walks will be used to fund research to find the answers to the crises of birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.
If you are interested in forming a family team to raise money and walk at the Winston-Salem walk, please visitwww.marchforbabies.org. The walk will take place on April 17, 2010 at Bolton Park. Registration starts at 9am and the walk begins at 10am. We are inviting you to join the March of Dimes cause today to walk and raise money for all the babies out there like Adam, Will and Lindy. With your help, one day all babies will be born healthy. We have to walk to get there.