It is normal for expecting parents to share a common aspiration of a normal pregnancy and ultimately the delivery of a healthy baby. Eight years ago, my wife and I also shared this dream as we anxiously awaited the arrival of our third child. However, we were soon launched down a roller-coaster ride of emotional highs and lows with the premature delivery of a 31 week, 2 pound, 14 ounce baby girl. Our daughter, Claire, spent the next seven weeks inside of an incubator at a neonatal intensive care unit with wires and tubes to monitor and sustain her fragile body. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined such a small human being, yet here I was holding my own daughter fully in the palm of my hands.
Fortunately, we were blessed with excellent health care services and today Claire is an extremely vibrant and healthy third-grader. Looking back I feel strongly that we were able to endure the emotional challenges of this hardship through the overwhelming support from our friends and family. Through their support it became very evident that there were many others in our community who have also been touched by babies that were born too soon or with a birth defect.
It is with this memory and motivation that I support the amazing work of the March of Dimes and proudly chair the 2010 Fort Dodge March for Babies campaign. By becoming involved with the March of Dimes I am able to not only share my story, but also raise awareness that prematurity impacts much more than the babies and their parents. Prematurity has a tremendous impact on extended families and friends, many of which may be reliving their own past experiences with prematurity.
The March of Dimes mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature births and infant mortality. They are able to fulfill this mission by funding medical research, community services, education and advocacy to save babies' lives. At a national level, the March of Dimes invests in many areas of research to prevent birth defects and premature births. In Iowa it has helped fund health risk assessments and prenatal education programs across the state. All of this is possible though the hard work and charitable donations of its sponsors.
So how can you help? I'd ask that you and your company consider forming a March for Babies walking team and/or a donation in support of the 2010 March for Babies campaign.
Last year in Fort Dodge there were 33 companies and 15 family teams involved in the March for Babies, which raised $36,000. Our goal for 2010 is to raise $48,000 during March for Babies which is scheduled for April 17 at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park.
If you are interested in forming a March for Babies walking team or learning more about the March of Dimes, please plan to attend the March for Babies Kickoff Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 23 in the Atrium Tower of Trinity Regional Medical Center. For more information, contact Lora Thiessen at the March of Dimes at 243-2244 or LThiessen@marchofdimes.com.
Troy Martens is chief operating officer of Trinity Regional Medical Center. Martens chairs the 2010 March for Babies.