Finally, I know...
This year's March for Babies was a huge success, by all accounts! Overall, the Nashville walk was larger than ever, perhaps due to the amazingly gorgeous weather. It was sunny and in the low 70's...paradise. I couldn't even tell you who the celebrity guest was (did we have one?), and we didn't win the t-shirt contest (RIGGED! We were robbed! I mean, were the shirts TOO intelligent for them? C'mon. (Okay, got that out of my system...)), but we had a great time!
This year was a little different than last year:
We had more walkers than last year.
In addition to the 10 actual walkers pictured above, we had 4 more who came out to walk but had to leave due to, um, a little upchucking (so perhaps it was a huge success by her account) and 3 more cheerleaders (including great-aunt and -uncle Pammy and Jimmy!) who stopped by for the pre-walk festivities. It was a special group of walkers, too. Of course there was SuperDad, SuperMom and Itty Bitty:
And there was Grandma (who, once again, left us young 'uns in the dust):
And there was Tate and Martha, who taught me everything I know about childrearing (maybe) but nothing about small children:
And there was Aunts Lauren (who somehow escaped my lens) (and her cutie beau) and Ashley (on left) and feeding therapist extraordinairre Caroline (on right):
And there was Melissa, who worked with Becca in the NICU from the very beginning:
And, finally, there was the Kelley family (Jessica, Kate, and Matt):
Kate and Becca especially enjoyed playing in the shade after the walk. Isn't Kate adorable?:
And we even discovered a new food that Becca loves: pretzels. Watch out, Rold Gold! She calls them "tse tse" and will eat herself silly. Okay, not really, but relatively speaking, she will. Here she is enjoying her first pack:
We definitely weren't the largest team represented, but everyone there has touched us deeply over the past 2 years. Members of this team have supported us in this crazy phase of life, driven all the way out to Bethpage to babysit while I worked, conducted studies that could save the lives of thousands of other itty bitties, have saved Becca from having a feeding tube place (so far, at least - more on that later this week), and have generally just been good friends to us in a time when we could really use good friends. It was powerful being together with this group because every one of them really and truly loves my little girl. I mean, I can't blame them for that, but as a mom, I really, really appreciate it.
How else was this year different than last year?
We raised more money - from more donors - than last year!
I honestly did not think that we would raise more than the $1650 we raised in 2009. I mean, last year was our first year, it was more dramatic, yadda yadda. But this year, thanks in large part to stellar team members (Ashley, Lauren, and Jessica - y'all are awesome!) reaching out and raising their own funds, we have (so far) raised over $1700! Wow! That's $1700 that will go to researchers working to find life-saving treatments for various perinatal conditions, to families who need support during their child's NICU stay, and to communities who are in the greatest need of prenatal education and health support. That's $1700 that will make a tremendous difference in the lives of some very itty bitty people...and the big people who love them. Thanks to all of you who donated for loving our Itty Bitty enough to give on her behalf.
We had t-shirts, of course!
Did I mention that I can't believe we didn't win the t-shirt contest? 'Cause seriously, Dianne Vallier did a fabulous job, and I think our blue shirts (yep, I chickened out on the purple) looked darned good on everyone. Folks as far away as Kansas, Arkansas, Ohio, Kentucky (of course!), Georgia, Texas, and Virginia are sporting Itty Bitty Becca's Team t-shirts and getting the message out about the reality of premature birth and the work of the March of Dimes. How cool is that?! And how special for Becca to know that people all over the country (okay, in this case, the southeast) care enough about her to wear a shirt with her name on it! Wow! Again, y'all are amazing!
We had an after-party!
That's right! Baby Ansel (and his fabulous parents Ashley and Aaron) invited us all over to his backyard to enjoy some snacks, ice cream, and perhaps maybe a cold beer or two. It was a great chance for us to relax and bask in the post-walk glow...or sweat... Ansel couldn't be bothered by the ruckus, though:
(Ansel, by the way, at 12 WEEKS old, is bigger than Becca. What a man!)
But there was one other way this year's March for Babies was different than last year's:
It was fun.
Our first March for Babies was very emotional for me. It was almost a visible reflection of all the emotional turmoil of that first year: the chaos, the grief, the surprise, the excitement, he flood of support, the I-never-knew-123-days-would-feel-so-long-ness, the isolation...it was all out in the open that day. It was an important day for me, but I'm not sure it was all that fun. I mean, I enjoyed it, but I was an emotional wreck. I still have issues (obviously - have you met me?), and I won't say that the event passed without sadness. I cried more than a couple of tears as I saw parents sporting their white bandannas in honor of the children they had lost, and when I approached the memorial flower garden while talking with my friend Mollie and even helped her find her sweet Aubrie's flower, I was jello. I came too close to losing my own precious little girl not to feel an echo of the pain reflected around me. But for the most part, it was a celebration of special kids like Becca, of their weary and hopeful families, and of the friends and family who love our kids, have witnessed and been a part of our journeys, and have walked with us every day. Thanks for being a part of Itty Bitty Becca's Team.