I have been blessed in my life to know lots of premature babies. Many of my friends have had premies. I have had two premature babies myself. Many of these children have flourished under the care of experts who worked tirelessly to ensure a happy, healthy future for them.
Many do not.
Our son, Phoenix Jude, was born on April 11, 2008. He was born in the 27th week of gestation. He and I had already been in the hospital for several weeks by that point on a long term maternity ward (something I didn't even know existed until this point in my life). I had developed extremely high blood pressure and eventually my son had to be born in order to try and save both of our lives.
Phoenix weighed one pound and 12oz. He was on a ventilator and a feeding tube and catheter and every other supportive device you can think of. He was just 12 inches long at birth.
He had a lot of challenges and, after three days, he succumbed to these and died on April 14th, 2008. I still love him and think of him every single day. I know that his life had meaning just as it was and that he taught me and so many people who met him the power their love could have. And he helped teach his medical caregivers more so that they could help better care for other premature babies.
Just under one year later on March 23, 2009, our daughter, The Nugget, was born. She was born at 35 weeks gestation after several months of bed rest. Though she was five weeks early, she was already seven pounds.
While she needed to be in a special care nursery for close monitoring, she thrived and was able to come home with us when I checked out of the hospital myself.
Because of these two beautiful children, I support the March of Dimes. In their own words:
Every year, more than half a million babies are born prematurely in the United States. The rate of premature birth has risen by 30 percent since 1981.
Premature birth is the leading cause of newborn death worldwide. Even babies born just a few weeks too soon can face serious health challenges and are at risk of lifelong disabilities. Premature birth costs society more than $26 billion a year.
In 2003, the Prematurity Campaign was launched to address the crisis and help families have healthy, full-term babies. In 2008, the March of Dimes Board of Trustees extended the Prematurity Campaign globally, and in 2009 the March of Dimes released the first global estimates showing the serious toll of preterm birth worldwide.
The March of Dimes works different channels of influence to reduce premature birth rates. One way is to raise public awareness of the serious issue and to invest in education of moms-to-be and health care providers. We also support medical advances and knowledge. Every year, new promising research studies are funded through our Prematurity Research Initiative. Advocacy efforts have opened the door to more federal funding for prematurity research and education.
The campaign is already showing signs of success, including a recent 3 percent decline in the premature birth rate. With more than 1,400 babies born too soon every day, much work is still to be done.
Find out how you can get involved by visitinghttp://www.MarchofDimes.com/Fight.