Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Guest Blog: A Mother's Love for the March of Dimes

Dear Readers, I'm finally getting around to featuring some of the fun and amazing people in my network as guest bloggers. Today's post is courtesy of Melissa from Thornton, CO. Melissa is one of the most functional Supermoms I know. I'm still unsure how she manages a family, leads a serious corporate security career, gets in regular work outs, and is fashionable and sociable all the while. I'm pretty sure it has something to do with getting up at 5:00am everyday and not having time to bleed. 

Read her story and be inspired by her beautiful struggle in having not one, but two premature babies! Melissa also highlights an amazing organization that helps combat premature birth.

Photo: http://www.ascentphotography.net
       The glorious moment you see the positive sign on the pee stick can elicit many emotions; for most parents there is an excited nervousness of the unknown.  We rely on our friends and family, and TV to give us an idea of what to expect in pregnancy and with a newborn.  In my case, I was blissfully unaware of how hard it is to bring a healthy baby into this world. 
       My pregnancy was going perfect until I was put on bed rest at 28 weeks for elevated blood pressure related to pre-eclampsia.  I thought, “This can’t be happening to me, I have so much to do.  You can’t make me stay in bed”!  Well, it turns out that they can and will.  The remainder of my pregnancy was filled with doctor appointments and none of the pregnancy books I had read prepared me for serious health issues and the possibility of a premature baby.   I managed to get my son to 32 weeks before I underwent an emergency c-section to prevent a stroke due to my high blood pressure. 
       Gabriel was 2 pounds and 14 ounces when he was born and I was so sick that I couldn’t hold him until he was three days old.  There is nothing to describe the helplessness you feel as a parent when your baby is hooked up to machines and all you can do is sit next to the incubator and watch the blips on the monitor.  My husband and I were not prepared for this and while there are books out there that deal with prematurity, who has time to read a book about crisis when you’re in the middle of a crisis?
       Thankfully we had a great support staff of doctors and nurses at the NICU that were there to guide us through this terrible adventure and we all celebrated together when we brought our son home when he was a month old.  It wasn’t until later that the full effect of what had happened hit us.  I grieved for the cute maternity clothes I never got to wear and I felt like I got robbed of two months of my pregnancy experience.  While I was happy to have my baby at home, I felt gipped.   I found many online support groups for parents of preemies that helped me realize that what I was feeling was perfectly normal and expected.  Through these forums, I also found the March of Dimes and learned about all the great work they do to fund research to prevent premature births and promote babies health.
       Fast forward 7 months to when I found out I was pregnant with my second child.  The stress and anxiety we felt was huge.  This time, we were going into the experience knowing full well how ugly having a baby can be.  While there were a ton of doctor appointments and a lot of monitoring for pre-eclampsia, we felt more in control of the situation and handled everything much better the second time around.  I was put on bed rest again at 28 weeks, but this time managed to get to 36 weeks before my second son was born.  Although it was also an emergency c-section, we handled it with ease.  I would never change what happened to us because the experience made our family that much stronger, but I would never wish it on any other family either.
       As a tribute to our sons and to our experience, we raise money and walk in the March of Dimes Walk for Babies every year to remind us of how far we have come and to see what we have to look forward to.  It’s nice to see thousands of people supporting such a great cause and to reassure you that you are not alone.
Photo: http://www.ascentphotography.net
       This year’s Denver March is coming up on April 30, 2011 and I urge you to find a local chapter of the March of Dimes and volunteer if you can, or support a team that is walking.  It’s such a great organization that advocates for pregnant women and babies and is an excellent source of information if you find yourself in a situation that is not portrayed in one of those afternoon baby shows on TLC.  Having been through the dread and fear of two high risk pregnancies and two premature babies, I feel I am an example that things can work out contentedly and you can be so called “normal” again.
       Note: You can click here to support Melissa's team for this year's March for Babies.

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