My friend, Sheila (pictured above) had a premature baby. He was one of the lucky ones. So many families go through even worse struggles than hers did. She was kind enough to share her experience with me.
As I stand and watch my three-year-old son, Ty, chase his friends around the International Houses after a grueling Stroller Strides workout, I am amazed to think that it was not always this way, that he was not always this way. Ty was born at 30 weeks, 3 days gestation due to severe early-onset pre-eclampsia, a form of life-threatening high-blood pressure I experienced during my pregnancy. Weighing in at a mere 2lbs., 14oz, Ty looked like an incredibly skinny toy doll nestled into the incubator. During his month and a half long stay in the NICU, Ty encountered immense trials and tribulations: ventilators and C-PAP machines to help him breath (we couldn’t hold him until he was 8 days old and breathing oxygen through a nasal cannula); a PDA, a valve in his heart that did not close, that luckily was healed with medication and not surgery; two blood transfusions, bleeding in the lungs; slow motility (his little digestive system was too premature to process any feedings); incredibly slow weight gain and growth. We brought him home from the hospital weighing 4 lbs and 1 gram. To ensure his heart would not stop beating (tachycardia) or that he would not stop breathing (bradycardia), Ty was on liquid caffeine from birth until 6 moths. His prematurity, coupled with the caffeine, caused Ty to experience horrific acid reflux, requiring medication twice a day for over a year. These caused difficulty in his eating and sleeping, which resulted in Ty staying below the growth charts for height and weight until he was over 6 months old. To compound matters, Ty’s prematurity caused physical delays that required intense, painful daily physical therapy for over 6 months. To this day, Ty receives annual vision, hearing, and neonatology screenings to ensure he is on track. If it wasn’t for the March of Dimes, I might not be standing here, running after my child, telling him not to throw dirt in the drinking fountain with his friends. Their commitment to research, education, community service, and advocacy ensures that babies like Ty receive a fighting chance against the threats to their health. I truly cannot thank them enough.
This is a picture of Ty now... amazing
Even while I am going through one of the hardest times in my life, I really do feel truly blessed. I have two healthy children and a loving husband. I have family and friends that love and support me. I am happy that I can walk tomorrow and run on Sunday to help give back. Won't you support my efforts? $10, $20? Or even $13.10 in honor of my race on Sunday??