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It’s Prematurity Awareness Month!

image ©March of Dimes

November is Prematurity Awareness Month.  20 years ago, I was born 2 months prematurely.  I faced a scary up-hill battle and was in the hospital for months.  It was a very dark time for my whole family.  I am grateful every single day for all of the hard work by my parents, NICU nurses, doctors, and the March of Dimes.  Without any of them, I wouldn’t be here today.

A few years ago, I was asked to be a regional spokesperson for the March of Dimes.  I helped to spread the message about prematurity and showed families and parents of new-born preemies that, yes, it’s scary now, but it can turn out all right in the end.

Here’s my story that was featured on the March of Dimes’ national eNewsletter:

My name is Karoline Zacharer and I was born 10 and a half weeks early on September 10, 1991.  I weighed only 2 lbs., 9 oz.  I could fit into the palm of my dad’s hand, and I was not yet fully formed.  Although my outlook back then wasn’t very bright, I am now a happy, healthy, energetic seventeen-year-old.

After I was born, I didn’t get to meet my parents for several days because I had to be kept in an isolette because I was still so fragile.  I remained in the Level IV neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU) at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston for several weeks.  Coupled with some of the best NICU care available at the time, I had two round-the-clock nurses, Diedre and Deborah, who traded 12 hour shifts and cared only for me.  After many weeks, I was discharged to a lower level NICU closer to my home at the Winchester Hospital.

Over the next couple of weeks at Winchester, my progress steadily improved and my setbacks were fewer and fewer.  And one morning in early November, about a week before my original “due-date”, I was brought home by my parents.  I was only 4 lbs. 4 oz.

I don’t remember those days, but I love to hear the stories from my aunts who considered purchasing doll clothing, in hopes that it wouldn’t be too big for me, like normal baby clothes were.  And my mom still calls me her “miracle baby”.  But to look at me now, you would never know what I went through back then.  After my release from the hospital, I had to participate in Early Intervention programs that help premature babies “catch up” in development to normal children of the same age.  At first, it was estimated that I would complete this process in three years, however, I was fully caught up by my first birthday.

Ever since, I have been a completely normal kid.  I led an active childhood, and have been involved in activities like dance classes and sports for as long as I can remember.  Nowadays, I lead the life of an average high school senior: hanging out with friends, applying to college, playing sports.  I’m even the captain of my school’s cross country and ski teams.  I’m an ordinary seventeen-year-old, I just got here in an extraordinary way.  I owe a lot to the March of Dimes and the research they do to help make sure that preemie babies end up happy and healthy, just like me.

I hope that this month you’ll take a minute to help spread the word about prematurity in America and all around the world.  1 in 10 babies in the United States has to be admitted to a Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit, so chances are you know someone who will be affected.

November 17th is the first-ever World Prematurity Day, so please set a Facebook status or send out a tweet letting the world know that you support the babies!  Also, you can join Bloggers Unite for World Prematurity Day like I have and dedicate a post to all the preemies out there battling for their young lives.

Do you know any lives that have been touched by the March of Dimes’ work?  Share your story in the comments!

xoxo, Karoline

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3 Comments

  1. WOW! :) I myself was premature too! 9 weeks early and 3 pounds, 15 ounces. 5 weeks in NICU- Isn’t it crazy how miracles happen? I would need to ask my parents the details, but I would love to do that for my blog post! Or we can do it together on Thuresday! I would hate to take your great idea though!! WOW! 10 and a half weeks! Good golly! Great post, Karoline!! :) <3

    Reply
    • Crazy that you were such a preemie too! I’m wicked pumped to collaborate with you, though! it’s gonna be an awesome post!

      Reply
  1. World Prematurity Day! | Karoline With a "K"

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