Monday, April 23, 2012

March for Babies

RAMOM's Early Birds
Most of last week through Saturday was warm, sunny, and beautiful.  Sunday was rainy, cold, and dreary.  And on Sunday was Richmond's March of Dimes March for Babies walk.  Go figure.  But a few of us prevailed and stuck it out for all 4.77 miles despite lots of wind, rain, blown open umbrellas, and wet clothes.  The camaraderie was enjoyable, the conversation good.  The hot coffee and yummy breakfast sandwich that followed weren't too shabby either (same goes for the hot, hot shower) and the fact that I had the house to myself once I returned home I think made everything taste better.  

But what's really important about Sunday is the cause for which we walked: our babies.  Our sweetest, littlest ones, all born earlier than normal, are now thriving and growing like typical kiddos thanks to the phenomenal care and support of the amazing NICU staff and March of Dimes.  It's a little strange that I talk to so many moms and discussing babies born at 24, 27, 30, 32, 34 weeks and everything in between is normal.  Birth weights in the 2 pound range and lengths of 14 inches don't make us even stutter.  Talk of oxygen levels, feeding tubes, heart rates, PICC lines, caffeine doses, and apnea monitors roll off our tongues as easy as any new mom talks about schedules, poopy diapers, feedings, and sleep challenges.  Our starts as moms may have gotten off to rocky ones, but Sunday allowed us to swallow back the lump in our throats as we celebrated our growing, not-so-little-anymore babies.  It's quickly apparent among fellow walkers that not everyone has been so lucky.  God bless their angel babies.

A fellow twin mom/RAMOM member and I organized a walking team with our local Moms of Multiples group and together we raised $2,235 to support March of Dimes March for Babies!
Garrett's little feet, Daddy's big hand
Garrett and Gavin's journey started at 32 weeks and their early delivery was planned.  I remember being shocked at how perfect they were at birth...the ultrasound pictures left me thinking I had aliens growing inside.  But they came out pink, perfect, and tiny.  Everything went as scheduled, their NICU and PCN stay was just under 6 weeks, and the enormity of it all was not traumatic like it is for many families whose early delivery comes as a shock or emergency.  While I was on bed rest I got to tour the NICU and meet with a neonatologist.  The unknown became far less scary and by 29 weeks I could finally walk by the newborn nursery without bursting into tears.  But those early weeks were hard.  And stressful.  And daunting.  And exhausting.  And painful, both physically and emotionally.  And despite tons of support and visits from family and friends, it was isolating and lonely. 

But if you ever want perspective, spend some time in a NICU.  So with every visit, every book read, every song sung, every snuggle session had, every picture hung at their isolettes, every Kangaroo care gown donned, every pumping session survived, every bath given, and every specialist with whom we met, we were grateful.  The feeding tubes came out; our boys gained weight; the jaundice lessened; they learned to suck, swallow, and breathe; their bruises from IV lines faded; their heart rates finally started to stabilize during feedings; the episodes of turning gray and blue decreased; nasal cannulas were removed; and we even nursed. 

Gavin looking at Garrett, 1 month old
The boys came home Easter weekend and the first thing we did as a family of four was take a walk.  The weather was warm and I'd been waiting to parade around the neighborhood with our stroller.  In the following weeks and months the boys continued to grow, hit milestones, and close the prematurity gap by the time they were 18 months.  Today you'd never know they were born 8 weeks early and it's not something I even think about much anymore unless someone asks.  But Sunday's walk provided a good reminder to reflect upon how far they've come, we've come, and to count our blessings.  Twice.


  1. Those pictures of the boys as newborns are so precious-- and a reminder of how very far they've come. Life is a miracle!

  2. It's hard to remember how teeny tiny they were. How can that have been only 2 years ago? Imagine what 2 more years will do! Cuter and cuter every single day.


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