You may have noticed the button on the side of the blog...or you may have seen adorable purple signs sprouting up all over town and even facebook...but if you haven't, let me formally invite you to the 2010 March for Babies season! Wohoo!
Over the next couple of months, thousands of parents, nurses, therapists, grandparents, doctors, friends, compassionate bystanders, aunts, uncles, and, yes, NICU graduates will march in honor and support of the thousands of babies born sick and/or too soon. And that's right: thousands of babies are born prematurely every year in this country -- every month, even...actually, every week. That's ridiculous and mind-numbing and heart-wrenching. And you can see more of the statistics at this post from last fall. Prematurity flat out stinks. I mean, the fact that our kids' lives are forever affected (some more than others) by the conditions surrounding their birth just stinks. I mean, not to get all biblical on you, but who's sin is it? The baby's or the parents? The answer, of course, is nobody's, at least in the majority of the cases that are not caused by maternal neglect. But to those of us who experience the trauma of a premature birth, sometimes it does feel like a curse. And we're left asking why.
Well, they don't really get too much into the why questions (which are healthy to ask but often unanswerable), but the March of Dimes is making great strides in answering the how questions. How do we predict premature birth? How do we prevent premature birth? How do we help these tiny babies survive their traumatic entry into the world? How do we save their lives? How do we help them thrive? How do genes and their protein signals guide the formation of the brain, limbs, spinal cord, axial skeleton, and other organs during embryonic and fetal development? Just making sure you are still with me. That last question was explored by March of Dimes grant recipient Drs. Beachy and Tabin in 2008. But that's the kind of research that eventually leads to life-saving treatment for these tiniest of patients.
The March of Dimes goes beyond the technical how questions as well, to explore questions like: How can we best support and care for parents and family members of babies in the NICU? How can we educate high-risk populations of steps they can take pre-conception and prenatally to reduce the risk of their babies being born sick and/or too soon? How can we help parents recovering from the effects of premature birth? Or even more gravely, how can we support parents whose precious children lose their battle, parents who never get to take their babies home? How indeed?
The question for each of you lovely readers, then, is how are you going to help the March of Dimes tackle these tough questions? How are you going to take a stand, take a tiny hand, and make a difference in the lives of countless babies and families whose lives are forever changed when their little one - their itty bitty one - is born too soon?
Well, I have some ideas, of course!
- March with us! Supermom, Superdad, and Itty Bitty Big Girl Becca will be walking in the Nashville March for Babies on Sunday, April 18th at 2:00 in Centennial Park. We'd love to have you join us! Maybe Becca will actually be taking steps by then!
- Buy books! During March, if you make a purchase with Itty Bitty Books, I will donate 10% of your purchase price back to the March of Dimes. (This donation is in addition to our family's personal donation.) So if you've been thinking about making a purchase, March is a great time to do it!
- Buy a t-shirt! Very special Team Itty Bitty t-shirts are in the works. Look for more information and the opportunity to purchase your very own in April!
- And, of course, a flat-out donation is the most cost-effective way to make a difference! Simply visit http://www.marchforbabies.org/BeccaHill to make a secure, tax-deductible donation. If you are not comfortable donating online, please leave a comment with your e-mail address, and I will send you our mailing address to which you can send a check made out to the March of Dimes; I'll get it to the right people.
Last year, I marched in honor of our own miracle, Itty Bitty Becca. If you need a refresher on our story, check out last year's March for Babies post here. In the past year, though, my view has broadened some as I have gotten to know many other families whose lives are touched by premature birth. This year, I march for:
- Our friend Dylan, who was born only 4 weeks early, but suffered major complications and is severely handicapped as a result...but who is a feisty, loving teenager, the light of our church congregation, and the absolute apple of his mother's eye.
- Becca's micropreemie boyfriend, Vince, born at 26 weeks, but now a veritable (and adorable!) chunk of a man!
- Goofy Daxton and beautiful Eliza Grace, who were born even earlier than Becca, and who fight tooth and nail for every milestone and are blowing the odds out of the water every day.
- Baby Austin, born last week at 25 weeks, fighting for his life - and winning!
- And for sweet, sweet babies Jillian, Grace, Aubrie, and Dominic...who lost their battles, but will always be mommy and daddy's precious children. I walk so that no parent would have to know the pain they live with every day. And I walk to let them know that their children are not forgotten.
And so I ask you to walk with me, literally or metaphorically. Your donation means the world to families like us. They mean hope for the future. They mean the possibility of being spared this difficult road with future pregnancies. And they mean that you are still walking with us in our journey. Prematurity may be a curse...but it is well worth the blessing.
Help other babies get from here: