The March of Dimes March for Babies: Why One Mom Walks

Suzanne Murray
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march for babies walk

photo by lovinmystar

With Stella on the walk

The March of Dimes March for Babies Walk is taking place this weekend in 900 locations around the U.S. It's not too late to sign up—it's a great way to get some fresh air and help some babies. If you can't walk, you can still make a donation.

The money raised funds research for premature babies and those born with birth defects; it provides comfort and information to families with infants in the NICU, and it helps moms have healthy pregnancies.

Here's why one mom, lovinmystar, is walking for the third time.

This will be your third year walking for the March of Dimes. What inspired you to walk?
The premature birth of our daughter, Stella, has inspired us to walk. There is sometimes a stigma attached to premature birth—that the mother is somehow to blame due to drugs or poor prenatal care. We want people to know that it can happen to anyone. 

Stella was born 14 weeks early. What happened?
My pregnancy was uneventful until my 25th week, exactly one day after my six-month checkup. I became ill overnight with preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome. My blood pressure was through the roof (220/120 at its highest), my liver and kidneys were shutting down, and my platelets were dangerously low. Stella was delivered by emergency C-section at 26 weeks when all attempts to stabilize me failed.

Those 87 days must have been very difficult for you. How did you deal?
When you're on the outside looking in, you think you could never deal with something like that. When it actually happens to you, you find out just how strong you really are. Even though Stella's chance of survival was 50/50, I never once doubted that she'd come home with us. I stayed positive and had the support of friends and family. We also had great nurses who adored Stella.

Tell me about Stella.
Stella is now three years old. She loves books and country music. She loves taking trips to the zoo, park, and library. Her favorite toys are her stuffed seal, dollhouse, and Doodle Pro.

Did being a preemie affect her development?
Stella has some minor developmental delays. She has low muscle tone, so she wears AFO's (braces) to help strengthen her ankles and legs. Her gross and fine motor skills are slightly delayed. She was hardly talking at all this time last year. Now she will talk your ear off. She goes to an early childhood special education preschool where she receives speech, occupational, physical, and vision therapies. She would not be where she is today if it weren't for early Intervention.

Stella's eyes were most affected by her premature birth. She was diagnosed with Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) at six weeks old. She has had several surgeries on her eyes and she's probably not done yet. She has worn glasses since she was two years old. She had been diagnosed with high myopia, amblyopia, exotropia, and nystagmus. Her prognosis is still uncertain. She could eventually lose the vision in her left eye completely.

Why is the March of Dimes important to you?
I truly don't think Stella would have survived if it hadn't been for advancements made by the March of Dimes.

Who do you do the walk with?
Our family team, Stella's Stars, is made up of myself, my husband, my stepdaughter, any friends and co-workers who want to join us, and of course, Stella.

What is your favorite thing about the March for Babies?
I love seeing former preemies all grown up. It's very inspirational. It feels good to be surrounded by people who know what you've gone through.

What day will you be walking this year?
Our walk is on Sunday, April 26.

Why do you think it's important for moms to walk even if they've never really had an experience with the March of Dimes?
You never know when you might be affected by a premature birth or birth defect. It can happen to one of your loved ones.

Anything else you'd like to add?
If you're not already walking, consider finding a team to walk on or start your own. If you can't make it to a walk, sponsor a team. Any donation, big or small, is greatly appreciated. Every penny counts! If you knit or makes quilts, consider a donation to your local NICU.  There are so many ways to help babies in need.

Are you walking this year?

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