On Saturday we participated in the 2011 March for Babies. It was an entire day dedicated to celebrating miracles. We saw many living testaments to the power happens at the intersection of modern medicine and a healing God.
We saw signs and shirts that proclaimed victory over prematurity: "Born at 25 weeks, 1 lb, 4 oz" and "I was a 26 weeker and now I'm a healthy 7 year old". Then there was our shirt, announcing our own little victory:
I saw my friend Alissa before we made it into the main area. Her son Jett was born at 27 weeks and more than once, they were told that he may not survive. When I hugged her, I couldn't keep in the tears.
"It feels like graduation", she said and she was so very right. It was a graduation. After a long, hard-fought year- filled with worry, fear and heartbreak, losing our third trimesters, watching our children fight every day for their lives- we could finally spend an entire day simply breathing a sigh of relief.
We even ran into one of Bea's pod-mates from UNC. Baleigh and Beatrice Kate had very similar paths into and out of the NICU. Both were born prematurely because of early-onset preclampsia, both sported a bubble CPAP, both were Small for Gestational Age (medical speak for: they were tinier than they should have been).
But most importantly, both essentially skated out of the NICU in a little over 6 short weeks, being discharged only 2 days apart. I was so, so happy to have seen their family again. Casey and I talk and think about them all the time, wondering how Baleigh was now. It was very joyful to have seen the update for myself:
We all made it out of the NICU. Our kids, Baleigh, Jett and Beatrice Kate, are healthy, chubby, NICU Graduates and Saturday was in fact our graduation day to celebrate their miracles.
I was humbled that people cared enough about our family, about our daughter to open their hearts and their wallets that much.
I heard that March of Dimes expected something like 5,000 walkers at the event. I would say that the they easily exceeded that estimate:
The Team's Namesake, Beatrice Kate, spent the morning riding in the lap of luxury in her Bob. She was well-stocked on Cheddar Bunnies, milk, water and even some apple slices. It was high-rolling:
I was proud of what all our team, of what all our family accomplished on Saturday. Being a NICU parent is a badge of honor that I proudly wear, but I would never wish it upon anyone. Because of the money that The Bea Team raised on Saturday, we are that much closer to making sure no one else ever has to know what it feels like.
And to my sweet baby girl: I am so proud of you. Because of your strength and will to live, we are where we are today. Beatrice Kate, you may only a year old, but you're already making a difference in other babies lives.