Tuesday, March 10, 2009

March 01, 2009 - March For Babies 2009!!!

Each year 1 in every 8 babies is born prematurely. Chris and I never thought that ours would be 2 for 2.

As I sit down to write this year’s March for Babies letter – I am in a very different place than I was when I wrote our first letter 4 years ago. 4 years ago – Braden was a happy, healthy 9 month old. We had just gotten out of the PICU with lung issues and continued to face those, but for the most part – he was perfect. We had been through the NICU experience, we had had the 1 lb. 11 oz. baby – but we were on the other side – waiting to see what the future would hold for our little miracle – and it looked bright.Each year as I sat down to write our letter – it was hard to relive the experiences that we went through with Braden. It was hard to remember the days spent watching him through his incubator, unable to hold him at will, to touch him, to feed him. But after remembering the 77 days we spent going back and forth to see our son, I could look at him sitting next to me – or running down the hallway – or doing flips in the living room, and know he was doing great.

This year is no different for Braden. As far as we can see, he has overcome his rough start with few scars to show. He was taken off his daily steroids and inhalers last summer and has done wonderfully without them. He has had a great winter thus far (knock on wood) and only missed one week of school in the first semester due to illness. He goes to pre-school 3 days a week and loves it. He is all boy – if you get my drift – but he is doing much better at completing tasks, listening and following directions. He is a great friend to everyone and does not like to see others left out or sad. He is never stingy with his kisses and “I love yous”. He is obsessed with Transformers, Monster Trucks and John Deere and has an imagination that I hope follows him far in life. He has also taken on a new role this year as Big Brother Braden, and even though he has been a big brother for over 4 weeks now, he still has not met his brother face-to-face. He only knows him through our stories, pictures and videos. But he knows he has an important role to play, and I know he will be ready when he finally gets his chance.

As for his little brother…Blake Joseph was born 12 weeks early on January 30, 2009. Together, we made it through 4 weeks of hospital bed rest, and he arrived bigger and stronger than anyone thought. He weighed 1 lb. 6 oz. and was 11.25 inches long. He fought hard during those 4 weeks, and continues to do so. He has his brother’s fighting genes and prayers from around the world; and he is making the most of the chance he has been given. So here we are – again looking at our son through a plastic box. We have been here 31 days so far – with no end in the near future. We have to drive everyday to see him, ask if we can hold him (usually only once a day), change him and bathe him. Looking at the big picture, he is doing wonderfully, he has gained a pound and grown 1 ¾ inches this month. He is cute as ever and has wonderful people who we trust and love caring for his every need, but we cannot wait for the day when we can be the ones to provide him with everything he needs.

To write this letter in the beginning (maybe middle!!) of this journey is hard. We know that Braden is one of the lucky ones; so far he has left prematurity behind him and will most likely continue to lead a healthy, carefree life. We hope and pray for the same outcome for Blake, but in all reality, we just don’t know. Many people believe that premature babies are just “small babies that need to get bigger”, but this is not true. These babies face so many challenges by being born prematurely and for many the fight does not end when they walk out the NICU doors. Some will go through years of therapies and a common cold can mean hospitalization and major health complications.

Without the March of Dimes, our lives with Braden and Blake would not be possible. Both boys received artificial surfactant at birth, and without this substance - developed by research funded by the March of Dimes - neither of our boys would be here today. I know there are many, many, MANY worthwhile charities out there. I am sure we would like to donate to them all!!! In financial reality, we have to pick and choose the one or ones that are closest to our own hearts. This is the one closest to *my* heart. This is the one closest to *Chris’s* heart. This is the one closest to *my family’s* hearts. Prematurity does not just affect the baby - it affects the entire family! We all need to understand that placing resources with the March of Dimes...a time tested organization who's never failed a mission yet...will be an investment...not just in our families, but in our country's future.

This is our 5th year walking –and our name has officially been changed to Team Miracle Monsters –since Blake decided he wanted to be included! Over the past 4 years, our team alone has raised over $10,000 for the March of Dimes. I think that is amazing and only possible with the kindness and generosity of all of you. In this year that we have been so blessed by family and friends, it is hard to ask for more. But as I sit here in Blake’s room and know that my two boys are here because others before me walked and raised money – I will ask.

Our walk this year is May 2, 2009. If you would like to come walk as part of Team Miracle Monsters, we would love to have you! Please let me know and I’ll get you all set up with your own fundraising site! If you would like to donate to our team and help support the March of Dimes, you can do so at www.marchforbabies.org/miraclemonster or send cash/check donation to me1!

Our goal this year is to reach $2450 – which is $50 for every ounce that the boys weighed at birth (27 oz +22 oz =49 oz X $50 = $2450).Thank you for your continued support of our family and our fight against prematurity! We never thought our boys would have to start their lives the way that they did. We are thankful that through the power of God, the doctors and nurses and the March of Dimes – they have been able to have the fighting chance they deserve.

Love,Carissa, Chris, Braden and Blake

Team Miracle Monsters

"We may grow them small, but we grow them strong!"

We are selling Team Miracle Monsters T-shirts this year!

Minimum $20 donation for short sleeve

Minimum $30 donation for long sleeve

Email me for details on how you can get yours!!

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