Monday, May 2, 2011

March for Babies 2011

On Saturday we participated in the 2011 March for Babies. We were lucky to have a beautiful day for the walk, as opposed to last year's pouring rain, and even more lucky to have so many of our wonderful friends and family with us. As you can see from the photo above, Team Three Cheers for Babies was well represented!

Charlie and Lily wore special shirts in honor of the day. If you can't quite see, the shirts say, "You're Looking at a Miracle."

Our team wore the same shirts as last year - we liked them too much to change them!

Enjoying the sunshine before things kicked off.
As this year's ambassador family, Joe, Charlie, Lily and I kicked off the walk. I gave a speech to all the attendees, sharing our story and letting everyone know just why the March of Dimes is such an important organization. (My speech is at the end of the post, if you'd like to read it.)
After the speech, we hopped in our special golf cart and led everyone to the walk route.
Once out of the golf cart, Charlie and Lily still got to cruise in style. Armed with lots of snacks and drinks, Charlie and Lily made it through the entire 5K walk with no complaints. We got them out as we approached the finish line and they walked to the end with us. Lily was clapping and cheering for herself as she got her "I Did It!" sticker, and Charlie was grinning like crazy.
After the walk everyone enjoyed dancing to the DJ and jumping in the bounce house. We even had an impromptu baby picnic for lunch. Charlie spent most of this little "picnic" walking around and mooching eveyone else's lunch. It was his own little buffet.
We had a wonderful time, but all that walking sure was exhausting ;)
Thank you so much to everyone who joined us at the walk, and to everyone who donated to our team. I'm waiting for a final fundraising report from the walk coordinator, but right now I'm showing that we've raised $4,931 for the March of Dimes. Our goal was $5,000 and I'm hoping we hit it. If you'd like to donate, there's still time - just VISIT OUR TEAM PAGE.

Finally, as promised, here is the speech I gave before the walk:

Every parent hopes that they will never need the services of the March of Dimes. But speaking as parents who did need their services, we’re here this morning to tell you just how important the March of Dimes really is.

When we found out that we were expecting triplets, we knew that there was a very good chance they would arrive early. We decided to hope for the best and prepare for the worst, but even we weren’t prepared for them to arrive as early as they did. The pregnancy was a difficult one from the start. I required surgery at just 9 weeks pregnant, then needed another procedure when I was 21 weeks along in an attempt to stop impending pre-term labor. At 24 weeks my water broke, and I was admitted to the hospital in an attempt to keep the babies in as long as possible. The doctors did everything they could and held off labor for 9 days, but still the babies arrived 15 weeks early.

I wish I could say that the birth of my children was the happiest day of my life, but it wasn’t. It was the most terrifying. The c-section was rushed and panicked. The room was full of NICU doctors and nurses waiting to care for the babies. We had no idea if they would even be born alive. As each baby was delivered there was no joyful cry of, “It’s a girl!” or “It’s a boy!” just “Here’s Baby A/B/C” as the doctor immediately handed my newborns off to the NICU staff. I never even got to see them in the delivery room. I remember lying on the table and all I could see was the team of doctors working on my daughter Lily, standing over her pumping air into her lungs to make her breathe. It seemed as if they worked on her forever and I was terrified that she wasn’t going to make it.

All three babies did survive delivery though and were whisked to the NICU. Our son, Charles Ferdinand (Charlie) weighed in at 1 lb 13 oz and was 13” long. Annaleigh Lucy was 1 lb 9 oz and 13 ¼” long and Lily Kevynn weighed 1 lb 8 oz and was 13 ½” long. I was finally able to see them a few hours after delivery, when my bed was wheeled into the NICU. I remember a nurse putting Lily’s tiny foot in my hand. They were by far the smallest babies I had ever seen, each not much larger than a can of soda.

The entire NICU stay was filled with scary moments, unsure hours and close calls. It was always one step forward, two steps back. In the beginning, all three babies would have countless episodes where they would stop breathing, or their heart rates would suddenly drop. There is really nothing scarier than hearing alarms sound and watching your child turn blue as nurses rush to their side to try to make them breathe again. The babies required the assistance of a ventilator to help them breathe, and feeding tubes so that they could eat. They were treated for unclosed vessels in their hearts, and Charlie developed a case of MRSA, an infection of the skin and blood, which forced him into isolation for his entire NICU stay.

Annaleigh was our strongest baby and our toughest fighter. At just 2 weeks old she underwent surgery to remove an obstruction in her bowel, and came through it unfazed .We were certain that she would be the first of our three babies to come home – she was even the first baby to be able to breathe all on her own - but the universe had other plans. On August 21, 2009 Annaleigh was diagnosed with Necrotizing Enterocolitis, a gastrointestinal disease that every preemie parent fears, as it is often fatal. This proved to be the case for our Annaleigh, because though they tried there was nothing the doctors could do to help her. Annaleigh died in my arms the very next day after her diagnosis, after having lived just 8 weeks and never leaving the hospital.

Charlie and Lily, however, began to thrive and after 95 and 99 days in the NICU and against all odds, they finally came home. And they’ve never looked back. Today Charlie and Lily are happy, healthy, energetic toddlers.

We are lucky that our story has a happy ending. We wish it were happier – we wish that we had all three of our children standing here with us today. We miss Annaleigh with all our hearts every day. But still, we are one of the lucky families. The fact that our son and daughter are alive today is a true miracle. One of the things that strikes us most about this walk is the number of miracles in this park today. Did you ever think you’d actually see a miracle? Look around – there are dozens of them standing right here. And they are here thanks in large part to the work done by the March of Dimes.

The March of Dimes has made huge strides in the fight against prematurity, but there is still so much work to be done. One day, no family will have to go through what ours did. No baby will have to go through what ours did, and no baby will lose the fight the way that our Annaleigh did. Thank you for being here today to join the fight against prematurity and support the March of Dimes.


Anonymous said...

Brooke, your speech is beautiful. I knew I shouldn't have read it here at work.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, thank you so much for publicly sharing your family's story. Your kids put a smile on my face every time I look at your blog.

You have the most Beautiful Miracles.

Karen said...

Such a wonderfully touching and powerful speech. Thank you for sharing.

Momof1 said...

your speech brought tears to my eyes. Even though I never met her in person, I miss Annaleigh every day. I used to work at Mayo and they have a close relationship with the March of Dimes. It's a wonderful cause and I hope that some day we won't have to worry about premature babies being born.