As first-time parents, we were very excited when we learned that we were expecting our first child. We never really considered that we would have anything other than a routine pregnancy. But during a health screening at work, the nurses noted that Julie’s blood pressure was very high. After speaking with her OB-GYN and eventually consulting with a high-risk OB-GYN, Julie was placed on bed rest due to pre-eclampsia. As a result, Mason’s growth began to slow and Julie was placed on bed rest in the high-risk unit of the labor and delivery unit at St. Ann’s Hospital. During this time, Julie was given steroid injections to help the baby’s lungs mature faster, a treatment developed through March of Dimes funding. We’ll never forget when the hospital staff rushed into the room to tell us that the baby wasn’t doing well and said it was time for delivery. Mason was delivered via emergency c-section at 28 weeks, 6 days and weighed only 1 lb. 10 oz. He was placed in an incubator and whisked away to the NICU. It was not until 24 hours later that Julie actually got to see anything other than a picture of Mason, because she was in bed on seizure precautions. It was four long days until we got to actually hold our son. Leaving Mason in the NICU after Julie was discharged was one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to do. Mason received amazing care in the NICU, and the nurses and hospital staff became second family to us. Among other treatments, Mason received surfactant, a drug that doctors use to treat immature lungs, allowing preemies to breathe. The surfactant therapy was also developed with funding provided by the March of Dimes. While our son had a few setbacks here and there, and gave us a pretty good scare early on, Mason did amazing during his NICU stay and came home before his due date, still weighing less than 4 lbs. We were very proud and happy parents leaving the hospital that day. Once he came home, Mason dealt with many of the issues that other micro-preemies deal with. We went to the eye doctor to continue checking for retinopathy of prematurity. Follow ups with the neurosurgeon to make sure that his ventricles were fine and visits with both physical and occupational therapy to work on muscle tone issues. Today, Mason is bright and energetic. He loves reading, playing video games, soccer, and cheering on the Blue Jackets. He has very few issues that remain as a result of his prematurity. The only visible reminders of his time in the NICU are the tiny scars on his arms and feet where the IVs were placed. Mason knows all about his NICU stay and is happy to show people the pictures of his time there and explain what all the tubes and wires are. He’ll also pull out his stuffed puppy, Pal, and explain that this little blue dog was bigger than him when he was born. In addition to participating in March for Babies in honor of Mason and the doctors, nurses, and hospital staff that cared for him, we also march in honor of our two other children, Makenna and Wyatt, and the doctors and researchers who helped to make sure that they were born bigger than their older brother. An important part of the March of Dimes mission isn’t just treating babies born too early, it’s also working to ensure that no more babies are born too soon. It’s funding research that is dedicated to finding the unknown causes of premature birth to make sure other families do not have to go through the things we did with Mason. Thank you March of Dimes!