For the past several months, our family has served as the Ambassador Family for our local area for the March of Dimes. It has been an honor and our pleasure to have the opportunity to meet so many other people who have also been impacted by having a baby in the NICU, to attend kick off events for company teams, and to once again be blessed by the support of friends.
Yesterday, we walked in our fourth March for Babies. This time, we helped to lead the walk, with our almost five year old racing through the crowd, holding the hand of her "bestie" and just enjoying the day.
She knows the walk is about helping babies.
She knows she was once a "tiny little baby."
She understands that we have a lot to celebrate.
I pray that she will never have to know what its like to have her own tiny little baby in the NICU and in gratitude that we were so lucky.
Every baby's birth is special and unique. A birth changes the lives of all involved in so many different ways. We have been blessed with two happy, healthy kids.
Before the walk, thank you's were said to the sponsors and families, and we were asked to speak about our journey. Below is my speech. It is not meant to be sad, it just is what we went through and what too many people go through every year. It's why we walk, and why we share our story. We hope to be able to give back and raise awareness that it can happen to anyone. Hope you enjoy it. And that the next time a store clerk asks if you can donate a dollar to a charity, that you will dig deep and donate $2 because you never know who will benefit.
2012 March for Babies Speech- April 28, 2012
I am Carrie, this is my husband, Towson, and our children Caroline and Jack. It’s an honor to serve as the Big Bend Area Ambassador Family for this year’s March for Babies.
Like so many of you who are here today, we were shocked, surprised, and scared when our daughter, Caroline, arrived more than 9 weeks before her due date. My water broke on Wednesday, at 3:15 PM and the doctor held off delivery until Sunday.
During that time, I was given steroids to speed up lung development. The nurses and doctors monitored me, monitored her and tried to offer some reassurance and to lower our expectations of was about to be our first child’s birth. They said,
We may not get to hold her or see her right away.
She will probably weigh less than four pounds.
Expect that she will be in the NICU at least until her due date.
When she was born, she screamed. We were momentarily relieved. Towson cut her cord, we got to hold her, and the nurse took a few pictures. She was HUGE- 4 pounds, 5 ounces. She left for the NICU.
The questions raced through our minds, we wondered who to blame, we were a little angry, and we were worried about our baby who was in a place called the NICU.
The NICU or Neonatal Intensive Care Unit would be our daughter’s home for almost a month. Her first month.
We would not be putting our little girl in her brand new dress and buckling her into her carseat to take her home in two days. At that point, we didn’t have ANY of these things yet anyway. Our baby shower wasn’t supposed to happen for a couple more weeks. We were supposed to still have time.
In her first home called the NICU, we would catalog all of her firsts- first tube feeding, first IV, first time she got to sleep in a closed bed, first time we got to change her diaper, first bath, first time I got to dress her, first keepsake footprints, first time she got to sleep in an open bed, first bottle, and then finally first ride in our car.
I practically lived at the NICU. Time in the NICU is inexplicable unless you have been there. You celebrate the successes and cry about the steps backward, all the while surrounded by strangers who care about your kid as much as you do. It is unforgettable and hard and beautiful.
We quickly made it our business to know all of her nurses. I called when I was up in the middle of the night to check in on her. And we did as much as they would let us do for her.
Then, one day, unbeknownst to us, we had perhaps one of the most important firsts. It was the day one of our favorite nurses said during the course of conversation that we would “forever be indebted to the March of Dimes.” It would take a few months for us to begin to understand her statement. I am still amazed that we even remembered it and that it stuck out from those crazy, scary, sometimes joyful, but always fog-filled days of getting through.
Caroline graduated from the NICU on July 5, 2007. She was healthy and strong, and she still is.
Caroline never needed oxygen. She never needed surgery. She had to keep her temperature, learn how to regulate her own heart rate and oxygen levels, and learn how to eat. We were so lucky. It could have been so much worse, but it wasn’t. For that, we thank the medical team and especially the March of Dimes for the focus they place on research, medicine, and education to help babies like Caroline by giving doctors the medical research they need.
We came to our first walk when Caroline was about 10 months old, and we have been walking ever since. I remember being in awe at how many people were at that walk. I was so in awe that I took pictures of the crowd ahead of us and the crowd behind us. And, I cried. I cried tears of sorrow when I read other people’s shirts memorializing their angels. I cried tears of joy for the other NICU Graduates, namely, my NICU Graduate. I cried tears of gratitude as I began to realize the throngs of people involved with the March of Dimes that had been there before we needed them. We walked together. We walked for babies.
She will turn 5 in June, and she now also understands what this walk is about- “Its so all the tiny little babies can be born healthy.” It’s about the people like you who have been walking for kids like her who were born before their due dates so they have the best chance they can.
We didn’t know that WE would directly benefit from the work of strangers coming together to support the March of Dimes. People have been working and raising awareness way before us, and next year, someone else will be up here to share their story.
In so many ways, this walk is such an amazing visual of the work organized by the March of Dimes and supported by people like you. As you walk today, take in the visual. Look at the people in front of you and think about the thousands of people who have been championing the mission of the March of Dimes for decades. Then, look behind you and think about the thousands of babies are yet to be born who will benefit from the contribution you have made today. Be thankful. Celebrate. Be proud.
We are honored to have been able to give back to the many many people who have come before us to support the March of Dimes by sharing our story. We know we have already benefitted more than we can ever repay. Our deepest gratitude goes to everyone who is participating today. One day, another mom will be up here thanking the people who came out to walk before her baby was born. We are glad to be apart of that. This has been an amazing journey that we feel blessed to have shared with you and to have heard some of your stories too. We hope to see you again next year, and the year after that. Thank you to you and to the March of Dimes for their continued efforts to work for “All the little babies to be born healthy.”
You can donate to the March of Dimes online at any time by visiting our team page.