A life without cause is a life without effect. ~BarbarellaEach year the law firm I work for holds a March of Dimes campaign to coincide with the national March of Dimes March for Babies campaign. Last year's campaign was hard for me. It was 5 months after we lost Caleb and I was still in a very dark place. I didn't want to support the campaign. I had visited the MoD webstite everyday during my pregnancy, I did everything I was supposed to, but yet my baby was still gone.
Looking back I can see how twisted my mindset was last March. MoD was there for me during my pregnancy, when Caleb's oligohydramnios was diagnosed, and after Caleb was gone. They did provide me with support...even if it wasn't the support I wanted. I knew I had to speak up this year. I lost my baby and that hurts so bad, but I don't want anyone else to experience that pain.
This year, the partner in charge of the campaign for our firm asked me if I would be willing to share my experience with MoD in order to drum up support.. I jumped at the opportunity. I went into my pregnancy thinking the worst thing that could happen was hemorrhoids. Birth defects, placental problems, and stillbirth were the furthest things from my mind. If even just one expecting mom chooses to educate herself a little bit more regarding her child's health, even if it's just out of the fear of ending up like me, then my Caleb's life was not in vain. So I will now share with you my MoD story...
When I found out I was pregnant, I’d like to think I had the normal reaction…fear! I was worried about everything from learning how to change diapers to paying for college. They say men become fathers when they hold their baby in their arms for the first time, but women become mothers the minute they learn they are pregnant. I couldn’t agree more with this observation. From the second I knew I had a tiny life growing inside of me, my maternal instinct kicked in along with all the worries that come with it.
That’s why I first visited the March of Dimes website. A parenting magazine I read told me they had a great section on keeping healthy during your pregnancy. I checked that site probably 20 times a day. I used it to find information on proper nutrition, pregnancy symptoms, and to look up all those big words that doctors like to use.
The website became an even more useful research tool during my sixth month of pregnancy when the doctors told me that my son, Caleb, was suffering from oligohydramnios, a lack of amniotic fluid. This can be a sign of birth defects in some babies. The doctors told me there wasn’t much I could do. They would continue to monitor Caleb and send me for some additional tests and screenings. I remember feeling so helpless. As a parent, you feel a responsibility to always care for your children in the best way you can, but here I was stuck, unable to do anything.
Immediately, I went to the MoD website to investigate. They had an entire section dedicated to pregnancy complications and a ton of useful information about oligohydramnios. It was such a sense of empowerment. I understood the condition more thoroughly and felt that I could have educated conversations with my doctors and other care providers.
Sadly, the diagnosis came too late for me. My little Caleb died in utero at 26 weeks gestation. His beautiful body was born into this world on October 2, 2008. Losing my baby is without a doubt the hardest thing I have ever gone through. The pain, anger, and sadness are overwhelming. I remember the first few days at home after I left the hospital were devastating. I felt so alone and so lost. But yet again, MoD came to my rescue. Through their website, I was able to find a great deal of resources and information on dealing with a stillbirth. They connected me with several support groups filled with mothers feeling the same way I did. MoD even helped me after we received Caleb’s autopsy report. The cause of his oligohydramnios was due to a placental defect. MoD’s website gave me information on this and treatment options for future pregnancies.
Through my journey of healing, I have met with so many families that the March of Dimes organization has helped. From their work with premature babies to their research into birth defects, MoD is saving lives every day. I share my story not for sympathy, but because I want every expecting mother to be educated and empowered with the knowledge to understand their unborn child’s health. It’s easy to assume that all pregnancies end with healthy babies, but the fact is right now they don’t. There is hope, however. The research, education, and outreach that the March of Dimes provides are essential to changing that disturbing fact. There was nothing that could be done to save my baby, but I know that because of the March of Dimes, each day parents are spared from the pain that my family had to go through. And for that, I am so very thankful.