This weekend, hundreds, nay thousands of people will be pounding the pavement to raise money for an amazing cause... the March of Dimes. The leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health, MOD is dedicated to improving the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.
I'm all for helping out charities and philanthropic efforts in any way possible. It's important and imperative for me to give something back to our world and to help those who need it. It's just how I'm programmed.
However, this one is different. It's personal. Deeply and painfully so.
Will owes his life in some part to the research that March of Dimes helps to fund. Plain and simple.
I won't prattle on about the details of his amazing, wacky and complicated health history -- I've downloaded my psyche (or at least the part I'm cognizant of -- there's still more angst to mine, I think) about this already in what I call The Will Chronicles. But -- this is the first time that I've been able to post pictures of his earliest days. It's not the "able physically" part that was the roadblock -- I've got the hang of the scan/edit/post thing down pat. It's the "able emotionally" part that held me up. Still isn't easy to look at them nearly seven years removed. The scar tissue on my soul is still shockingly fresh, the memories still hauntingly vibrant.
Here are some facts, just to give you an idea of what the March of Dimes is tackling...
Educational Minute: One out of every eight babies is born prematurely in the United States. That's approximately half a million little ones every year.
Most pregnancies last around 40 weeks. Babies born between 37 and 42 completed weeks of pregnancy are called full term. Babies born before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy are called premature.
Premature birth is a serious health problem. Premature babies are at increased risk for newborn health complications, as well as lasting disabilities, such as mental handicaps, cerebral palsy, lung and gastrointestinal problems, vision and hearing loss, and even death. Many premature babies require care in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), which has specialized medical staff and equipment that can deal with the multiple problems faced by premature infants.
Most premature babies (71.2 percent) are born between 34 and 36 weeks of gestation. These are called late preterm births. Almost 13 percent of premature babies are born between 32 and 33 weeks of gestation, about 10 percent between 28 and 31 weeks, and about 6 percent at less than 28 weeks of gestation.
Will was in that last, very scary 6 percent, coming into the world at 25 weeks gestation. And yes, he still wrestles with a number of those conditions common to micropreemies.
Despite statistics and odds and brushes with mortality, he's thriving, bringing joy, pride and wonderful standard kid annoyance to me every single day. If you ever want to see a living, breathing miracle in action, I'll be happy to bring him over and let him share his infectious personality with you.
He is amazing.
Unfortunately, we're not going to be participating in the physical part of the March for Babies this year -- time and schedules and life just got in the way. But we'll be there in spirit.
I'm blathering on about this just as a PSA to ask that if you are approached by someone to donate to this unbelievably worthy cause -- please seriously consider it. And don't be surprised if this time next year, I'll have hit y'all up to help out. I'm not shy when it comes to matters affecting my baby. Yes, he's almost seven. But he's still my baby, no matter how much he protests to the contrary.
They do good work, these March of Dimes folks.
I should know.