This last weekend we walked with London in our family’s first March of Dimes event. Last year we were still in the NICU when it took place and prior to that, I had no clue what March of Dimes supports. The organization exists to help moms have a full-term pregnancy. And if that doesn’t happen, then they provide help, support, and resources to preemies and their parents.
We had a hectic week so we actually thought about not going to Denver’s City Park to participate in the walk this year, but we were both thankful we did. We even got to walk with one of London’s primary NICU nurses. In addition to seeing some other nurses who took care of London, just being in the presence of more than a thousand other preemies and their parents was empowering…even if we didn’t strike up a conversation with any of them.
The 5k walk meandered through City Park. We started behind many slower walkers and passed most of them by off-roading it in the grass. Toward the end, we were out in front with other fast walkers scattered about. We slowed down a bit as we neared the stage of the walk where posters were placed in the grass showing pictures of preemies at their birth and then a few years later, strong, energetic, and healthy. The posters shared the gestational age at birth and sometimes the weight. As we walked by I glanced from poster to poster noting the gestational ages, “Born at 38 weeks…..Born at 25 weeks….Born at 40 weeks….Born at 33 weeks….Born too soon.” And then, a little later on, “Born at 19 weeks,” with a picture of impossibly small feet and a message of why the parents support March of Dimes, because no parents should have to suffer losing a baby.
When I saw the first “Born too soon,” I think I had a sharp intake of breath. It was a stark reminder that we were walking for the preemies who didn’t make it as well as those who have. We came scarily close to having a “Born too soon” baby. Whatever it was that set things in motion for Kate’s premature delivery, we will never know, but I am so glad things happened when they did and not 2+ weeks earlier. I usually don’t dwell on this what if?, but the walk made me think about it a little more than usual. To change my train of thought was easy this time. I just had to look up. I was surrounded by hope, happy endings, and amazingly supportive parents.