After a yearlong struggle with infertility, Bryan and I were thrilled to find out we were expecting twins! To say these babies were loved beyond measure from day one is an understatement. I had a remarkably easy pregnancy and felt great until week 24. I went to see my doctor after feeling something was not right, and Joel and Bradley were delivered six hours later. It was a moment we will never forget; the operating room was quickly filled with more than 20 medical staff, and the boys were rushed by medical helicopter to the NICU at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
Joel and Bradley had very different NICU journeys. Joel's stay was relatively uneventful for a baby born 16 weeks prematurely. He met milestones ahead of schedule, took to oral feeds with no issue and even breastfed. He spent a total of 97 days in the NICU and was able to come home just a few days after Christmas.
Bradley had a much more difficult NICU journey. His tiny body endured 12 surgeries, but he showed he was a fighter and won the hearts of everyone he met. After nearly six months in the NICU, 174 days to be exact, he was finally able to join his brother at home in March.
Since coming home, Bradley has been hospitalized several times for shunt malfunctions and a suspected seizure. His most recent surgery was nearly a year and a half ago, but he has been medically stable since. He has come so far in the last six months and has been meeting milestones only slightly behind his premature-adjusted age. He has started sitting up, crawling, pulling up, cruising the furniture and “talking” up a storm!
March of Dimes NICU Family Support gave us with my favorite part of our NICU experience: monthly picture days! It was something to look forward to and memories to keep for a lifetime. The research, funding and advances are absolutely crucial, but the little things also make such a difference to families each and every day. By forming friendships during Wednesday NICU lunches and taking pictures of our babies in their incubators, March of Dimes helped us feel like normal parents in the crazy NICU world.
Today, we have two great boys. Joel is silly, fearless and so sweet. Bradley, our miracle, is loving, hardworking and determined. We cannot thank March of Dimes enough for all they have done for our family throughout this journey, and we are so honored to be this year's Ambassador Family.
Bryan, Emily, Joel and Bradley
March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. We believe that every baby deserves the best possible start. Unfortunately, not all babies get one. We are changing that.
From advocacy to education to research, we are working to level the playing field so that all moms and babies are healthy. We're advocating for policies to protect them. We are radically improving the healthcare they receive. We are pioneering research to find solutions. We are empowering families with programs, knowledge and tools to have healthier pregnancies. By uniting communities, we are building a brighter future for us all.