In early October 2007, we welcomed a new addition to our family, my daughter Anastassia. Despite everything my doctors and I did to prolong the pregnancy, Anastassia was born too early. As I was given the news that she was about to make her entrance, I tried to convince myself that it was not happening. My goal with her was 28 weeks, and I still was not there.

My husband was squeezed into a corner of the huge labor and delivery room, the only place he had to stand. The room was filled with doctors, nurses, the transport team and equipment. I saw a brief glimpse of my baby right before she was whisked away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. My husband looked pale and scared. He followed them. I was alone. Tears of fear, frustration and anger overwhelmed me. This surely was not the birth story I imagined.

She did well the first day, and the following days and weeks were filled with little victories and few setbacks. We watched the monitors when she slept and marveled as she learned things that full-term babies know from the start. We looked forward to the precious moments of holding her, and our hearts broke every time we had to leave her behind the NICU doors. We watched her little body grow stronger and bigger. In mid-December, we finally took her home.

Three years later you would never know that you are looking at a 27-weeker, and you would never guess the effort it took to get her here. We were blessed with wonderful doctors and nurses that took care of Anastassia. They eased our worries and took care of all of us. We were lucky that she did so well and we never will take a day with her for granted.

When we finally were home, we wanted to get involved and give back. A postcard about the 2008 March for Babies came in the mail at just the right time. Since then, we raise money and walk every year. The money raised at this event goes toward education, research and family support, which helps reduce prematurity rates in this country.

Watch our video and join the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin team for the 2011 March for Babies. Registration is free and easy. Click here to register for the Milwaukee event on April 30. Click here to register for the Fox Valley event on April 16.

~ Natalya Morrow, PhD

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