The birth of a baby is supposed to be a joyous time. However, for some families it is full of fear and doubt. In the United States, nearly a half-million babies are born too soon. In fact, premature births rank as the number one killer of newborns.
Marti Buher remembers when her son, Landon, came earlier than expected.
“I felt scared for him. I felt horrible,” Buher said. “As a mother you want to carry your child full term, so there was all this unknown that anything could happen.”
Landon was born 10 weeks early and weighed less than 3 pounds at birth.
“The first time seeing him is a bit overwhelming, just seeing all the wires and things attached to him,” recalls his father, Zac Buher.
Children born prematurely face several dangers.
“Probably the most important or key thing that has to do with intensive care needs is the maturity of their lungs,” explained Dr. James Sumners with St. Vincent Women’s Hospital. “The maturity of their respiratory system, so that they can get enough oxygen in and survive.”
Their small bodies also make it difficult for them to regulate their body temperature and water levels.
The struggles go beyond being just physical. That is where March of Dimes comes in, an organization that aims to help families deal with the stress of the entire ordeal.
“Their birth experience is not what they would consider ideal,” said Rachel Schlotterbeck, a NICU family support specialist with March of Dimes. “They want to go home on discharge day with their baby and all the balloons and presents. That’s not their story. So to have someone who can relate to that, and walk through that with them, it creates a family.”
Now, 2-year-old Landon serves as an example of the impact that the organization, along with the tireless work of doctors and nurses, can make.
“They were everything for that moment,” said Buher. “They give you hope. They’re there talking to you. They don’t judge the situation. They were just there.”
The March of Dimes annual event March for Babies is scheduled for May 11 in Indianapolis. For more information about the event, click here.