What It Means For My Family To “March For Babies”
It was during my shift working as unit clerical assistant in the Progressive Care Unit at Texas Children’s Hospital that I realized something wasn’t right with my pregnancy.
I knew my pregnancy was high-risk because I was carrying multiples, but when I delivered them at 30 weeks with Makayla weighing 3 lbs 9 oz and Mark weighing 4 lbs 1 oz, it felt surreal watching my babies being rushed from St. Luke’s to the NICU at Texas Children’s Newborn Center.
Because they were born 10 weeks early, both babies had trouble breathing and needed the assistance of a cPAP machine for the first week and a half of their lives. They also had some issues with feeding and suffered through apneas as well as bradychardias, which is a slower than normal heart rate, so they had to take a series of medications to help treat those issues.
Though Makayla and Mark spent a month and a half in the NICU, I felt incredibly blessed when we were able to take them home a week before Christmas. It was truly our “Christmas miracle.”
Because I’ve worked with patients at Texas Children’s for nearly 12 years now and I see so many families with sick children, I’ve become accustomed to being strong for those families. But when it was my own babies receiving NICU care, it was an entirely different experience and that's when my outlook of our NICU took on a whole new meaning — every time my babies meet a milestone or every time they have a birthday, I will forever be reminded of how they started off in this world.
It still warms my heart all of these years later when I bump into one of the doctors or nurses who cared for Makayla and Mark and they ask me how they’re doing — it makes me so proud to know that these care teams really remember each and every patient. Another experience that has allowed me to have an even deeper appreciation for my NICU experience is participating in the March of Dime’s “March for Babies” fundraising walk.
Even before I gave birth to my twins, I participated in the “March for Babies” because I was passionate about their mission to reduce rates of prematurity and create a healthy community of children — just like Texas Children’s mission. Now, our participation carries a whole new meaning as we have firsthand knowledge and understanding of the important treatments and therapies that are life-saving for NICU babies and we know that so many of these important therapies were developed through March of Dimes funded research.
In addition to giving back to other families with babies in the NICU, one of the reasons we love to walk in the March for Babies is because it allows us to meet parents who have gone through the same experience we have and sharing our stories as we walk is always a powerful and unforgettable experience.
Speaking of unforgettable experiences, every time the elevators in West Tower stop on the 4th floor where the NICU is located, the smell still causes a flood of memories to come back to me all these years later. Thankfully, because of the incredible staff who cared for our twins, they are good ones. I can’t say enough just how appreciative I am to have 2 happy, healthy 3 year olds — and how thankful I am for both Texas Children’s outstanding care and the incredible March of Dimes funded research that helps our tiniest and most critically-ill babies thrive.