Every year, 20 million babies are born too soon, too small and very sick--half a million of them in the U.S. November 17th is when we fight!
As you may know, my 2nd daughter, Madelyn, was born at 33 weeks, 6 days due to my rapid progression of severe preeclampsia. She weighed 3lbs, 12oz and was 16 3/4" long. She was smaller than some of Sophia's baby dolls and weighed less than a bag of sugar. Definitely not what I had in mind as the outcome of my 2nd pregnancy! I blogged about our story last year during March of Dimes Bloggers Unite: Fight for Preemies! So here I am, a year later and Maddy is another year older. I am blessed to have had a healthy baby girl despite her being premature, but other parents are not always so lucky.
|Just minutes old & so, so tiny.|
|1 day old & in the NICU incubator w/tons of monitors & tubes.|
|Maddy just a few days old--finally getting to hold her in my arms!|
I had a healthy (past due even!) pregnancy with Sophia, I had high-ish blood pressure with Maddy, but up until 32 weeks, I never had protein in my urine or any other symptoms. I loved being pregnant & figured I would likely go overdue with this little girl too. I had not started to prepare the nursery since I figured I had plenty of time & I didn't want to "curse" myself and baby comes early because I was prepared. Yeah, that's total crap. I wish I would've at least read up on premature babies and what to expect if I had one. I would've felt more prepared and know what to expect. That's why I'm so passionate about making others aware of prematurity & praying that less and less families have to experience life with a premature baby.
|Just over a week old---smaller than my hand; just like a babydoll!|
Maddy was so tiny, so helpless and so fragile when she was born. I was afraid to hold her at first and afraid I would break her even just feeding her. We had to make sure only very healthy, clean people would come in contact with her, so I tended to wear her all over the place. Her skin was so sensitive that disposables gave her awful rashes and we switched to cloth diapers. I nursed her as long as I had milk & received donor milk from a dear friend, which I am certain kept her healthy for the first year of her life.
|Maddy & Sophie: Easter 2010.|
I feel blessed to have had a healthy, normal, term pregnancy since then with Noah, though I was on edge almost the entire time. I was worried when I found out that I was pregnant & already had protein in my urine, that the sweet baby in my belly might not make it. I began to pray every moment of every day to keep us healthy & I know a lot of others did as well. When I made it to the 20 week appointment and we found out there was a baby boy growing inside of me, I started mentally counting down the weeks until he would be "viable if delivered". I had all of his clothes washed and things prepared by 30 weeks. As the weeks continued to pass without me developing preeclampsia again, I felt so blessed and grateful to still be pregnant. I made it past 34 weeks--a personal goal I set in my mind, then 36, then 38...and delivered Noah at 39 weeks, 5 days--2 days before his "due date". He was born healthy & strong & is a completely different baby than Maddy was.
|Maddy's a big sister!!|
|Maddy is now almost 2. While she's still petite, she is doing well & caught up almost everywhere to other children born in January '09. Healthy, strong & a wild personality! She's not saying too many words yet, but tends to mimic whatever we say/do, so I'm trying to not worry yet. She's a fighter. Has been since day 1 and I pray she will will keep using that strength in other areas of her life as she grows up.|
|Maddy's 1st birthday in January 2010!!|
Today we are going back to visit the NICU where Maddy spent the first 18 days of her life. I'm a bit anxious and a bit excited. Anxious because we have not been back yet and I don't know how I'm going to feel--just smelling that same brand of antibacterial soap we have to wash our hands with to get into the NICU brought back tons of emotions. I can only imagine how I will feel actually being there with her nurses & doctors. But I'm also excited. We're NICU graduates! We're part of a small group of people who have been through this & I hope to share our gratitude for taking good care of my baby when I couldn't. I hope to take pictures (even though my camera died & we're hoping to find a good deal on one on black Friday! Maybe I can borrow my father-in-laws?), but I will definitely update you all about how it goes!
|Maddy at 19 months!|
So wear purple today to show your support, take some time today to hug your little ones (if you have them) & be thankful for them. Not everyone ends up with a happy ending & I know I am so blessed to have one of my own. Learn how you can help support your local NICU, walk as a family for the March for Babies event every spring & join the March of Dimes in the fight for premature babies like my Maddy.
|Maddy at 21 months!|
We need to fight ― because babies shouldn't have to.