In 2012, Andy and Amy were eagerly awaiting the birth of their first child. Amy’s pregnancy appeared to be progressing normally, until, at 33 weeks, she didn’t feel well after lunch and she knew something was wrong. In the emergency room Amy’s blood pressure was 199/140. Amy was told she probably had HELLP syndrome and that she was going to be sent to Little Rock right away. Amy had followed each pregnancy rule perfectly and didn’t know why this was happening. She knew by the reactions of the doctors and nurses around her that their situation was dire.
A few short hours later after a very scary C-section that threatened Amy’s life, Murray was born - about seven weeks too soon. He weighed 4 pounds and 1oz. Because of the condition of both Amy and Murray, she was unable to see her newborn in the NICU for an entire week. “Instead of choosing a sweet onesie and posing for pictures with our families and passing him around, we were standing in front of an incubator and I was asking the nurse for permission to touch my child.” Amy recalls. After 30 days of the NICU full of kangaroo care and hopes that Murray’s weight would increase, the Wills were able to go home. Today, Murray is 4 years-old and loves to run, Star Wars, and all things superhero. Amy and Andy credit the March of Dimes NICU Family Support program for giving them comfort in a time of great chaos. They are campaigning with the organization because they want to help March of Dimes make the NICU a little less frightening for families who may face similar situations.
Like Murray, about 380,000 babies are born too soon in the United States each year. Preterm birth is the leading cause of newborn death, and babies who survive an early birth often face an increased risk of a lifetime of health challenges, such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities and others. Even babies born just a few weeks early have higher rates of hospitalization and illness than full-term infants.
The March of Dimes is committed to reducing this toll by funding research to find the causes of premature birth and providing comfort and information to families. The Wills family’s story and their volunteer work for the March of Dimes stand as living proof of the life-saving measures supported and developed as a result of the organization’s commitment to research and educational programs to help give every baby a fighting chance. They hope their story can provide hope for other families and help the March of Dimes to reach the day when all babies are born strong and healthy.
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