I am a NICU nurse and a NICU mom.
In July of 2008, my husband and I were so happy when we found out that we were expecting our first baby. My pregnancy was uneventful until my 32-week appointment showed that my baby wasn't growing well. I was placed on bed-rest and made it two weeks before I became sick with preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome. Little Jameson Patrick was born via emergency c-section and weighed four pounds, five ounces. We didn't hear him cry. I remember straining from the operating table, trying to see past the sea of people, wondering if my little guy was okay. Finally, a little kitten mewed twice--that was Jameson's cry. We were so thankful.
Amazingly, he spent just six days in the NICU step-down unit. We couldn't believe it when we took him home weighing four pounds, two ounces! What I have learned about being a preemie mom, though, is that the story doesn't end when you leave the NICU. We struggled with some common preemie problems in his first eighteen months: low-weight gain, reflux (GERD), motor delays, and physical therapy. Now he is a thriving and quite wonderful two-year-old.
I have walked in the March of Dimes for five years. I walk not just for my son, but for all the babies that I take care of in the NICU. I walk for all the times I have administered surfactant to premature baby lungs that wouldn't work with out it; for babies that would not have lived if they hadn't been able to receive nitric oxide; for babies that have avoided heart surgery by receiving a medication instead. I walk for moms who pump breast milk every three hours for months so that I can feed that milk to their babies through a tube; parents who wait days, weeks, or even months to hold their babies. I walk because although March of Dimes research has brought great technical advances, we still don't know the reason why many babies are born preterm.
--Proud mom, Jenn Ross