Why I walk in the March for Babies-
When I am asked why I volunteer and fundraise, its a simple answer- in my daughter's memory, so that she always has a purpose. One of the things I love the most about my team name, Because of Josie, is getting to say her name. I was so excited about her name. I always loved that name and when I had the opportunity to name my very first child I just knew that was the one I wanted, especially when I discovered I was having a baby girl. But when you lose a child, their name is sometimes forgotten, or brushed over. I think that people think that saying their name will upset you, when actually its one of the best things to hear. Knowing that someone remembers your baby's name is a comfort and a sign they are not forgotten after they are gone.
I have been walking in the March for Babies for about 10 years this year, about one year after I lost Josie. I knew what the March of Dimes was, something about eradicating polio and healthy babies. I came across an internet banner while online one day and when I did more research I just knew this was the right place to channel my energy. I knew it was the right way to honor my daughter and to give her life meaning. I realized so many things about the March of Dimes, their research into life saving surfuctant therapy, for babies with underdeveloped lungs; their research that made connections between pre-natal care and vitamins with healthy full term babies; the link between folic acid and reduction of birth defects.....all of what we know about modern pre-natal care and continued breakthroughs all possible because of the March of Dimes.
As I began my fundraiser that first year, I learned more and more about the unnecessary silence surrounding infant loss, miscarriage and birth defects. So many people returned my emails with- " thank you so much, I had a miscarriage 20 years ago," or " my younger brother was a preemie, and he spent the first weeks of his life in the hospital." I realized that I may have started this for Josie, but I wasn't only walking and fundraising for her memory or to comfort my own loss, I was walking for all these stories and countless others that I might never hear personally, but I know exist.
Last year, my very dear friend, who is more like family, found herself with a diagnosis she could never have imagined, in a strange city, on what was supposed to be her Baby Moon. She came down with pre-eclampsia and was swiftly admitted to a hospital with a high risk maternal medicine department and a level 4 NICU. Her pre-eclampsia progressed to HELLP syndrome, and the only solution to save her life and her baby was deliver early. Her baby boy was born at 27 weeks and 1 day, and then spent 86 days in the NICU. She and her husband had no idea that they would become a NICU family when they decided to start a family. Today, their baby is 12 months old, 9 months adjusted. Happy and healthy, with OT therapy and fortified formula, happily gaining weight and is an absolute delight to everyone who meets him. I walk for him and his family, because no one should be discharged from the hospital and have to leave their baby behind in the NICU.
I walk because of the stories I have read here on Share; the ones that have titles like, "how do I survive this.." or "I lost my son, now I'm lost too." I walk for the courageous moms and dads I met at Share Union in Chicago, who were willing to share their stories of loss, hope, heartbreak and trauma with a room full of strangers who were able to understand their story in away that their closest family and friends could not. I walk in the March for Babies every year, and with every step I take, I remember the face and story of a dear friend, who I may only "see" once or twice a year but talk with every week and read about here on Share. Their stories are now in my heart, and have become part of mine and I want to make sure that their story is heard, and that their child or children are not forgotten.
On my first walk day, I was pregnant with my Rainbow Baby, only 9 weeks or so, and terrified of another loss. I had a lot of anxiety that morning, really unsure what I was getting into. When I arrived and saw the amount of people who turned out I was overwhelmed and choked up in the most amazing way possible. It was so comforting to know that so many people cared about this cause. Everywhere I looked there was a family celebrating a NICU warrior or honoring a child they lost. The pictures in the mission tent almost brought me to my knees, as I looked at all the pictures of tiny little ones who made it despite all odds, and I was so very proud to know I was a part of a charity that made this possible.
This year will not be any different, except my 9 year old daughter, practically perfect, healthy, full term and an absolute ball of energy, will be by my side, celebrating preemies, children with birth defects, and NICU graduates, while honoring those we lost like her big sister Josie. It teaches her how to celebrate her sister's memory and gives us all an outlet for our love for Josie.
Because of Josie- that's why I walk in the March of Dimes, March for Babies.
As always, thank you for sharing Josie with us. Have a great walk. I know you will have a very special angel with you that day and every day before and after.
Love and hugs,
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us all. Thank you for all you do for the March of Dimes. I'm thankful to have you as a friend. I dont know what i would do without you in my life.
You are such an inspiration, and you honor Josie every single day.
March of Dimes fights for the health of all moms and babies. We're advocating for policies to protect them. We're working to radically improve the health care they receive. We're pioneering research to find solutions. We're empowering families with the knowledge and tools to have healthier pregnancies. By uniting communities, we're building a brighter future for us all.
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