By Jana Cinnamon
I vividly remember the first time I held Sadie. She felt like she weighed no more than the purple blanket she was wrapped up in. It wasn’t at all what I imagined it would be like to hold my baby for the first time.
We sat together in a rocking chair. I was nervous to move, afraid that any movement I might make would trigger an alarm from one of her monitors. After some time, I bravely leaned down to kiss her little head and then I started to sing quietly to her.
“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.
You make me happy, when skies are gray.
You’ll never know dear, how much I love you.
Please don’t take my sunshine away.”
With tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat, the last line of the song became my cry out to God. Please Lord – do not take her away from me.
Sadie’s early arrival was a complete shock to my husband and me. We were readying ourselves to become parents, but nothing could have prepared us for becoming parents to a preemie. Sadie’s first seven weeks on this earth were spent in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. I remember walking the halls, seeing pictures and reading stories of other babies that had been born early. There were tremendous success stories of babies that had been born decades ago at a time when the survival rates of premature and low-birth weight babies like Sadie was not nearly what it is today.
Although I still had uncertainty about Sadie’s future, reading those stories gave me an overwhelming feeling of gratefulness. I became thankful for the advances in medicine and the access we have to superior health care. I became thankful that Sadie’s prematurity and small size was not the end of her story. And I became thankful for the work of the March of Dimes.
Prior to Sadie’s birth, I had heard of the March of Dimes, but was not familiar with their mission or work. Since I became a mom to a miracle, I have learned a lot from the March of Dimes. Most of all, I learned I was not alone. In the United States, one in nine babies is born prematurely. Yes, there can be comfort in numbers, but this is not a comforting statistic. The March of Dimes is actively working to reduce the number of premature births in the United States. Additionally, they are funding lifesaving research to support healthier babies.
Today, Sadie is five years old and has no lasting effects from her premature birth.
This spring, my family, friends and I will be walking in the March for Babies. This event is a major fundraiser for the March of Dimes and this year, in particular, is exciting as they celebrate their 75th anniversary. Participating in this event has brought me hope and healing. My favorite part of the walk is the last mile – “Mission Mile” – where signs are posted along the street featuring babies that entered this world too early.
My daughter, born 10 weeks too soon and weighing 1 pound, 9 ounces, is a fighter. She has inspired me to fight for healthier babies. Will you walk with me?
Find more information at www.marchforbabies.org.