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Chanika Moses Smith's Fundraiser:

March of Dimes- Team Roman

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BENEFITING: March of Dimes Foundation

EVENT DATE: May 03, 2015

Chanika Moses Smith


Our story starts out as many of your stories do. My husband and I met, fell in love, got married, and were excited to start our family together with my new step son, Austen. When my husband Barry and I learned I was 4 weeks along in my first pregnancy, I immediately schedule an appointment with my OB/GYN. During my first ultrasound, the doctor discovered I had fibroids. She reassured us not to worry because fibroids usually shrink as the baby grows.

Months went by, and I still had that “new mommy glow.” At 4 1/2 months, I woke up with unbearable pain in my right side. Despite the pain, I went to work as usual, but after an hour, I went home. I instantly called my OB/GYN about my pain, and she suggested I should go to the hospital. They didn’t find anything unusual, so they admitted me. While I was having my ultrasound, I asked to see if I was having a boy or a girl. It was a going to be a baby boy!

That same night, I had a body scan. The doctor discovered that the fibroid did not get smaller as we had hoped. It had grown larger and was the same size as my baby. I was scheduled for surgery the next day. After surgery, the pain subsided to a bearable state, and after a week I went home. Shortly after I was discharged from the hospital the severe pain returned and continued for 3 months. I told my OB/GYN about the pain, so she suggested complete bed rest. This was not an option for me and my family because of financial strain and lack of disability insurance. I HAD to work. We made a compromise to work only 6 hours a day and be on bed rest for the remainder of the day.

At 7 1/2 months pregnant, I had another scare. I had taken Austen to a concert on a Sunday night, and while walking back to the car, I felt an intense pain. Once the EMTs arrived, they told me I was in labor, but I refused to go to the hospital. They finally agreed to let me go home.

I went to work the next day and left early so I could go to my doctor's appointment. The doctor asked me if I was in labor. I was unsure because I had never been in labor before. I went to get my ultrasound done at the hospital, but when I arrived they told me that my insurance would not cover the appointment and asked me "How would you like to pay?" I left upset because I was confused and frustrated with the situation and was concerned for baby boy’s health. The next day, my co-workers noticed me walking "funny" and told to me that I might be in labor. After consideration, I called the ultrasound office and scheduled an appointment.

Again, the hospital stated that the insurance would not pay for my appointment. I didn’t understand why! They informed me the doctor's orders stated that she wanted to find out the sex of the baby, and the insurance wouldn’t cover it. I assured them that we already knew it was a boy. Eventually, the order was changed and I could finally get my ultrasound. During my ultrasound, the tech was looking for the baby's head, but she couldn't see it. After she tried another angle, she still couldn't see it and told me she would be right back. I thought she was going to get my husband so he could see the ultrasound, but she came back with a wheelchair and a surprised look on her face. She then brought in my husband and told us that I was 6 centimeters dilated and the baby might weigh 2 lbs 15 oz. They began rushing me to the ER! I was distraught and shocked because I was only 7 1/2 months along! My husband and I were in complete disbelief.

In the ER the doctors did everything they could to delay the labor.  I was then rushed to the delivery waiting room to have a shot to stop the contractions. The hospital staff told me I was on complete bed rest and had to receive the shot every day until my due date or until my son was born, whichever came first.  That night, while I was on complete bed rest, the nurse said “Your water broke!” Everything after was a blur.

At 7:36 AM, Roman was born 10 weeks early, weighing only 3 lbs 6 oz. and screaming! After the doctor laid him on my chest, I sobbed because it was the most beautiful scream I had ever heard. For one, that scream meant he was healthy, and two, it meant his lungs were working and he didn’t need a ventilator. Because of this, I thought that everything was normal. I waited anxiously in my room for the nurse to bring my newborn son to me. An hour went by, then 3, then after 6 hours, I called the nurses’ station to ask when I would see him. She said, “Oh, no, you have to see him.” I said, “Where is he?” She said, “In the NICU. We have to take you down there. Are you ready?”

I was finally released from the hospital, but unfortunately Roman had to remain in the NICU for a few weeks. Having to leave my son at the hospital was very difficult for my family. Austen had still not seen or held his brother. We spent every day with him doing Kangaroo care, breastfeeding, and whatever it took to get him out. As a preemie parent you learn that you will have different milestones than other families: first holding him, getting off tube feeding, grams and ounces, first time to wear clothes, weight gain, bili-light therapy, and moving from an incubator to an open crib.

Finally, Roman came home on day 33, weighing 4 lbs 15 oz, and 36 days ahead of schedule. That night Austen finally held Roman for the first time! We were relieved to cut off all the hospital ID bracelets!

Today, Roman is almost 4 years old, and is healthy, smart, independent, and FULL of energy. He loves dinosaurs, cars, and playing with his brothers. I ended up having another preemie son, but because of our experience with Roman in the NICU, we made sure that our second son, Jordan, born at 36 weeks, didn’t have to spend time there.

We had medical and emotional support from the NICU staff. While in the NICU, we continuously asked questions to help ease our minds. The nurses would say the NICU is quite different than it used to be, even 10 years ago because of consistent research by March of Dimes. We are very blessed to have Roman and Jordan and we know that of March of Dimes and the March for Babies campaign has directly impacted our family. 


The mission of the March of Dimes Foundation is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. The fundraising goal is $2,000.



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