About 380,000 babies are born prematurely in the US each year. November is Prematurity Awareness Month, and LÍLLÉbaby is joining the March of Dimes to raise awareness and support initiatives that give every baby a fighting chance. Help us celebrate the little ones who are thriving after being born prematurely and honor those who were less fortunate. Join the cause by taking a photo while wearing purple and using #givethemtomorrow.”
by Jen Aprea
You never expect to passionately support a charity. Up until I was 33 years old, I blindly supported the charities of my friends. I never had a personal reason to support one over the other, but I felt good knowing that I was supporting something that was near and dear to my friends' hearts. Then my son Ryan was born at only 25 weeks, and suddenly all of that changed.
My pregnancy with Ryan was anything but normal. I was on bed rest for 15 weeks with a subchorionic hematoma (SCH) that wouldn't quit, and even so, the doctors thought I could make it full term. Ryan had a different plan, and on the morning I reached 25 weeks in my pregnancy, the SCH turned into a placental abruption and required an emergency c-section.
The March of Dimes has played a large role in the advancement of medicines and technology that save babies' lives. Ryan's life was directly impacted by research funded by the March of Dimes. He spent seven months in the NICU, and I honestly don't think he would be here without the use of surfactant and nitric oxide to help develop his premature lungs. These are just two of the treatments that the March of Dimes has funded research to help premature babies not only survive, but thrive.
When your child is confined to an isolette in the NICU, there's a feeling of complete loss of control as a mother. You feel so helpless as there's not much more you can do besides sit by your baby's side and watch them heal and grow. During this time, the decisions I *could* make that made me feel like I was making a difference for my son were limited to pumping breast milk for his feeding tube, providing him with tiny preemie cloth diapers, and holding him skin to skin any chance I got.
Those "kangaroo care" moments where he would just sleep on my bare chest and we'd regulate our breathing together brought me closer to my son than anything else could. I knew he could see me, smell me, and feel me loving him. That has since carried over into baby wearing. I've been wearing him since he first came home from the NICU at 7 months old. Even with his oxygen tubes and feeding tubes attached, we found ways to carry all of his gear on our backs while we kept him close on our front. He didn't start walking until he was over 2 years old, so not only did it allow us to keep him close and comfortable, but it made daily outings as a family more manageable. Now that he's 4.5 years old, we still both LOVE baby wearing. He'll see me strap on the Lillebaby and immediately come running over with his arms up to be lifted into it. Since he's deaf and non-verbal, this exchange of communication is priceless to me, and I'm already mourning the bittersweet day when he'll finally outgrow his carrier.
Shop the March of Dime COMPLETE Embossed in Lavender now!