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How March of Dimes helped my family during our NICU stay

Like all first-time parents, Rachel and I couldn’t wait to meet our baby daughter. But when Rachel’s pregnancy got cut short at 23 weeks and 5 days — without warning or any known cause — that joyful anticipation turned into an epic fight for our little girl’s life. Charlotte was born weighing 1 pound, 4.5 ounces, just shy of 1 foot long, and given a 30 percent chance of survival.

We were confused, terrified, and caught in a complete whirlwind of medical personnel and procedures.

Thankfully, we were in excellent hands

It wasn’t just the primary nurses, psychologist, neonatologists, lactation consultants, cardiac teams, neurosurgeons, physical therapists, surgeons and pulmonary specialists who helped us get through what would end up being a 124-day stay at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. The March of Dimes played a huge part as well.

Our representative, Angie Biersach, was among the first people to welcome us to the NICU. Rachel and I both have years of experience working in hospital support services — it was where we met, in fact — but it was a completely different experience being on the other side.

Angie could not have been better, providing us with every learning resource we could think to ask for, along with some we hadn’t even thought of, and a welcome bag containing guidelines and FAQ materials. She showed us a calendar with constructive and educational events lined up nearly every day to support us and provide us a much-needed community for parents with children in the NICU.

Though we were scared, we knew we were never alone

Smiling baby

Charlotte at 9 months

We have nothing but praise for all the wonderful people who helped keep up our family together and happy. Charlotte is now nearly a year old, and we’re thankful every day for the incredible support we received from Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and the March of Dimes. Those groups are celebrating 10 years of partnership this year, and it shows. They know what they’re doing.

Come join the March for Babies

We hope that everyone will consider taking part in the annual March of Dimes March for Babies, which raises money to help fund March of Dimes research and programs aimed at making babies stronger and healthier. This year’s event takes place on Saturday, April 25, at O’Donnell Park, 931 E. Wisconsin Ave. Registration starts at 9 a.m. with the walk following at 10 a.m. Or, you can register online today at marchforbabies.org/team/chw2015.