Earlier today the 2014 March for Babies employee campaign was launched at Cincinnati Children’s. I’m honored to be serving, with my husband and daughter, as the ambassador family for this year’s campaign.
Our experience with the March of Dimes, and the breadth of the services and support it offers, began almost exactly a year ago when I was 27 weeks pregnant and developed severe preeclampsia. I was hospitalized at 28 weeks and received steroid shots to help my daughter’s lungs develop quickly – I was becoming more ill each day and my doctors knew I would have to deliver her in the very near future.
My medical team was able to keep me stable until week 29, but at that point it became too dangerous for my health to continue the pregnancy. On April 28, 2013 Emma was born via c-section.
At birth she weighed 2 pounds, 11 ounces and had severe lung disease. She had respiratory distress syndrome, emphysema and pneumonia. We could feel her lungs crackle each time she took a breath. Her lung damage was severe and during her first week in the NICU at Good Samaritan Hospital we were unsure if she would survive.
During this time, Emma received a shot of artificial surfactant, which enables premature babies to breathe more easily until their lungs are fully developed and able to produce surfactant naturally. Slowly but surely her lungs responded to the treatment. She remained on oxygen support for the first 7 weeks of her life. Altogether, Emma spent 8 weeks in the NICU.
The role that surfactant played in Emma’s care is significant, not only because it saved her life, but because the research that led to the development of surfactant therapy in the 1980s was done at Cincinnati Children’s.
The March of Dimes has a long history of dedication to funding research to develop new ways to help prevent or treat common complications of prematurity. Without this research, my story may have had a less fortunate outcome.
Cincinnati Children’s employees, their families and patient families walk together each year in support of the important work of the March of Dimes and the March for Babies event. This year, we will be walking at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday, April 27th.
I am passionate about this organization because it supports babies and families individually, but also supports the bigger picture of infant health in our own neighborhood and around the world.
A March of Dimes grant is currently funding the groundbreaking research of Dr. Louis Muglia at Cincinnati Children’s. Dr. Muglia is investigating the mechanism controlling the timing for birth in humans and seeking to understand what role genetics play in that mechanism. I’m proud to be associated with an organization that sees the immeasurable value of this work and the findings it may produce.
I’m pleased to be able to share with you that Emma is now a happy, healthy 11 month old. She’s meeting all of her developmental milestones and is the most wonderful little person. I’m grateful every day that she is here and is thriving.
Editor’s note: if you would like to join Cincinnati Children’s March for Babies’ team, you can sign up or make a donation here.