“Love comes when manipulation stops; when you think more about the other person than about his or her reactions to you. When you dare to reveal yourself fully. When you dare to be vulnerable.”
Dr. Joyce Brothers
Stereo Hearts- Gym Class Heroes
A friend recently asked me after leaving a March of Dimes fundraising event how the March of Dimes helped the battle against prematurity. Prior to Gracie’s birth I shared my friend’s curiosity. After attending a couple of MOD fundraising events I feel that I can now provide a fair response. The March of Dimes raises funds for the research, awareness and support to fight prematurity through special events. Yes, the tickets to these events may be pricey, but the atmosphere of these events provide a source of elegance behind the dismantling effects of having a premature infant. We were fortunate enough to provide a success story because so many of the outcomes are less fortunate than ours. According to the World Health Organization, the US infant mortality rate ranks 34th out of 197 countries . The US is sandwiched between Cuba and Malta and well behind our industrialized and superpower neighbors. I fear of where we would rank in the world if it wasn’t for the March of Dimes and its ability to advocate the importance of eliminating premature birth through maternal education, research and partnerships by offering an outlet for the voices of those closest to premature infants or angels. As a bonus, it allows parents to understand and share enriching and vulnerable experiences with one another. That alone was enough for me to continue to commit our resources towards giving babies a fair chance at life. We were invited to share Gracie’s story at a recent MOD charity event, below were my remarks.
Good evening, I would like to thank Nikki and her volunteers for the humbling opportunity to share Gracie’s story. Tonight wouldn’t have been possible without the close support from friends, family and the March of Dimes.
To me, life is a lot like a using a calculator. Throughout life we are taught how to use the basic functions to get by with our simple daily calculations. Then, parenthood strikes and we realize that we have to start relying on the memory and formula functions on our calculator because there are not enough hours in a day to work, sleep, clean, play, chase and act like a repetitive fool in one night with a child.
Gracie, like most babies, was born on the promise of her parents’ ability to love. She was the last and largest piece of our puzzle. Like most young professional couples, we bought a house, upgraded to family friendly vehicles and after much persuasion; I was inclined to fill the house with laughter from a child. We received a positive result after many negative pregnancy tests. As soon as the news settled in, it seemed as if there wasn’t enough time to prepare for what was to come.
Ashleigh’s pregnancy had its own fair share of hiccups with false screenings and routine tests, but when I learned that we were having a girl, I began to panic after imagining the inflation adjusted costs of Gracie’s prom and wedding. We shared our news at five months with friends and family and at 6 months Gracie arrived. Immediately she owned the statistic that 1 out of 8 babies born into this world are premature. I met Gracie when she was still a masterpiece in the making.
Premature birth is the number one killer of all babies and for Gracie her life began at 24 weeks, weighing 23 ounces, and presented to me in a clear box with a 50 percent chance of survival. This was coupled with the fact that, if she survived, there was a good chance she would have severe developmental delays.
All parents are essentially artists, but the inspiration to create comes from God. We wanted to love on her and the only way we could was by letting her wrap her entire hand around our pinkies or use our hands as her personal blanket. It wasn’t until months later that she was able to lie on our bare chests in the NICU. We realized from that moment on that this was the real deal.
Ashleigh visited and read to Gracie every day for the next hundred and ten days through surgeries, developmental fears and diagnoses to help mold and shape Gracie into the young lady she is today.
Today, Gracie is an active infant who just recently celebrated her first birthday. Her favorite things are neighborhood strolls, story time, and bath time; she is not fond of avocadoes or diaper changes.
So, tonight please bid generously while remembering that 75 cents of every dollar goes directly towards the cause of the March of Dimes, unless of course you are bidding against my wife. Thank you, good luck and good night.