By Jody Fuller
When I look at my baby, I am constantly reminded at how blessed I am to have a perfectly healthy little bundle of miraculous joy, and I will never take that for granted.
Last week, I bumped into an old buddy of mine at the grocery store. With him, was Ashton, his precious little girl. I hadn’t seen him in quite some time, so he was unaware that I had a little one of my own. It didn’t take long for us both to realize that we had a lot in common. We were not only 45-year-old men with little girls, but also 45-year-old men with little girls born prematurely. My Abigail was born at 32 ½ weeks, while Ashton was born at 30. His was born a little earlier than mine, but mine was born in the back of an ambulance on Friday the 13th. Either way, by God’s good grace, both of our little angels are doing exceptionally well.
My next stop was the grocery store where I bumped into another friend. Lo and behold if her youngest wasn’t born premature, too. He was born at 34 weeks and is now a happy, healthy, and athletic soon-to-be 12-year-old.
Sadly, not all preemies are as healthy as ours. In the United States, 10% of babies are born prematurely. That’s a lot of families affected and babies who face challenges ahead. Babies born preterm face a greater likelihood of death, disability, or lifelong health conditions. What’s more, not every baby gets the best possible start.
That last sentence saddens me. I recall the 29 days we spent at the UAB Women & Infants Center last fall. We saw and heard babies at all stages. We were fortunate to bring our baby home. I’m sure some of the babies we heard crying are still there. Even sadder, some of them aren’t, yet they never went home.
This is a heartbreaking reality for far too many families. Today, March of Dimes (MOD) is leveling the playing field, because we believe that every baby deserves the best possible start. By supporting MOD, you are standing up for babies.
I never knew much about MOD or its mission. In fact, I still don’t, but I am learning and will be actively involved from this point forward. In fact, I recently co-hosted the March for Babies Kick-off in Auburn. Some of the information in this article came directly from our notes.
2018 is a big year for MOD and its lifesaving work. Furthermore, this year marks its 80th birthday. Last year March for Babies raised more than $80 million in 400 communities across the country. There were 4 million participants, sponsors and supporters joining the cause. I believe we can do even better this year. I know that Team Emmy and Abby will do its part. You see, Emily, our 11-year-old was also born at 32 weeks.
MOD supports moms through every stage of the pregnancy journey, even when everything doesn’t go according to plan. From advocacy to education to research, MOD works to level the playing field so that all moms and babies are healthy. They’re advocating for policies to protect them. They’re working to radically improve the health care they receive. They’re pioneering research to find solutions. They’re empowering families with programs, knowledge and tools to have healthier pregnancies. By uniting communities through these efforts, they are building a brighter future for us all.
March for Babies is our nation’s oldest fundraising and awareness walk. Since 1970, it has raised almost two-and-a-half billion dollars to improve the health of moms and babies. My local March for Babies will take place on May 12 at Municipal Park in Opelika. There is likely one in your area, as well.
If you want to help with this worthy cause or are interested in joining our team, please message me. I’ll be happy to pass along the information. With your help, we can make this the best year yet.