Being a Great Preemie Dad Means Doing These 3 Simple Things

Who can understand the challenges a preemie dad faces other than the men who’ve taken on this exact role? When a child is born via preterm birth the attention usually goes to two places: the baby and the mom. If the newborn has young siblings, these sometimes will get to share in being the center of focus, but what about dad?

February 26th is soon to arrive yet again. At The Gift of Life, this is a special day of celebration because it is Marcus Moore’s birthday.  For those who don’t know, he is the co-founder of our organization, husband to founder Rosie Moore, and the dad of Miracle Kaleb – who was born a preemie but beat the odds through grace and is now an inspiring young boy.

To Marcus, may you have a very happy birthday filled with an abundance of joy and love that sticks with you forevermore; one more year is simply not enough.

The preciousness of time is one thing any devoted father of a preemie knows well; he has no guarantee that he will get to see his child grow up. Of a truth, no parent can accurately predict how much time he or she will have with their children; life can change in an instant. The unpredictable nature of change is can feel far more volatile, however, when the child is a preemie.

We want to make the most of the time we have – at least we ought to.  Men who are dads ought to want to be the best fathers they have the potential to be.

See, it is all too rare today to find men who are man enough to take their fatherhood seriously and stand by their kids. Many complain that it’s just too hard – and that’s when the baby is born healthy and normally.

They refuse to see what a blessing it is to have your child born full-term. What happens when the child has special needs? What happens, for instance, when the baby is born weighing only one pound, so tiny they can fit in the palm of your hand?

Marcus might not consider himself to be a superhero, but he’s Superman to Rosie and Kaleb. In fact, in the telling of his story any dad of a preemie can find the courage to soar in his role as a father. What they’ll discover is that it is actually not beyond human strength. Therefore, in celebration of Clark Kent…ahem…Marcus’ birthday…

Marcus and Kaleb Moore Image

The 3 things it takes to be a great preemie dad:


1. Be There

Before Kaleb was born, Marcus worked as a counselor/caseworker at Orlando Metro Treatment Center, an out-patient detoxification center for individuals getting off of heroin and pain medication addictions.  In fact, his employment history features an extensive and successful track record in which Marcus fulfils roles that make a substantial positive impact on people’s lives, holding positions such as Vocational Employment Counselor and Life Skills Educator.

In June of 2009, Marcus had to resign from his position as a counselor because he became a preemie dad – it’s not what all fathers of preemies are called to do, of course, but it’s what his newborn son needed him to do at the time, so he did it.

Marcus Moore, the successful professional, quit his job so that he could take care of Kaleb, his preemie son. He did not put his salary above the needs of his child – even though premature babies are prone to having a number of pricey expenses thanks to the condition of their health.  Standing on faith, he made the sacrifice that he saw fit. Realizing how precious each and every day is, he made the choice to be by his son’s side.

Marcus Moore in his role as a preemie dad

Being there is what makes a great preemie dad. Spend as much time as you can with your baby and its mother, offering your love and support wherever you can. Some dads fall into the trap of thinking that their presence doesn’t really make a difference because they think that there’s not much they can do, but they’re wrong. Every baby needs the love of its parents first of all.

“I never thought in a million years about prematurity until my son was born at 27 weeks”. – Marcus Moore 


2. Be Hopeful


Kaleb arrived in the world much sooner than expected but nonetheless alive. The doctors, however, were far from optimistic about his future, preparing Marcus and Rosie for the worst. They wanted these new preemie parents to be ready for the difficult challenges that come with having a premature baby. Many of the medical professionals in attendance did not hesitate to make known that they did not think little Kaleb would survive.

For the next five months, Marcus and Rosie spent a significant amount of time visiting Kaleb in the NICU. Kaleb did better than many had expected, but progress was slow and the emotional rollercoaster his parents were on seemed almost never-ending.

Despite contrary opinions and disheartening medical reports, Marcus took a firm stand in his position as a father and a husband, continuing to pray for and support his infant son and wife; he and Rosie held strong to faith, believing in the power of the Lord to heal. No matter what Kaleb was up against medically, they continued to have hope that their son would pull through, and he did.

In situations such as premature birth and infants being born with severe medical conditions it is all too tempting to give up on the one thing that can make the biggest positive impact: hope. Being a great preemie dad does not mean having some kind of supernatural power that instantly makes everything okay; it means putting yourself in the mindset of totally depending on all that is virtuous and whole – Love.

Marcus and Rosie caring for their preemie son

Do physically what you can to improve the situation, and let your perceived limitations be compensated for by the limitless. All real dads want the best for their children. Continue to look forward to the best possible outcome you can imagine for your child until the situation is completed.

 “We knew it was a matter of time, but were not prepared to see little Kaleb in the isolette, so tiny, hanging on for life… “. Marcus Moore


3. Be Willing to Learn


Marcus had spent his career life as a counselor, not a pediatrician. Even before he made the decision to take care of Kaleb full-time, Marcus realized that there was volumes he had to learn.

Most of the premature babies who survive still have special needs that can place hefty mental, emotional, and financial demands on their families. It is often essential, for example, that the home remain as germ-free as possible, requiring all members of the household to adapt extensive sanitization and hygiene practices; the immune system develops mostly during the last weeks of gestation, development time that preemies miss out on.

Most dads want their children to be as normal as the meaning of the word applies to babies. Generally, preemie dads must come to a realization where the definition of normal is relative – the commonly adhered to rules of caring for a baby must be cast aside in favor of doing what’s best in the child’s own unique case. Parenting a preemie more of an on-the-job-training experience than for most, being unable to lean on the advice of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and so forth who have never had a premature child.


A great preemie dad, therefore, must acknowledge and accept his own lack of knowledge, replacing confidence with willingness, thinking both creatively and scientifically, and taking on the challenge with a passion to succeed for the love and the sake of his child. He must be open-minded. He must want to learn.

“You rely heavily on the doctors to provide advice. And, if you are fortunate enough to have family pull alongside you, this can help you through the bumpy road of parenting a preemie.  The rest is trusting God to see you through one day at a time”.  – Marcus Moore


Being a great preemie dad is not about knowing it all upfront, nor is it about how much resources you can muster. Instead, it’s showing your baby sincere parental love, sticking in there, ever hoping for the best, and learning every day how to be the type of parent your preemie needs. All of these things are what makes Marcus Moore a great preemie dad, and that’s why we at The Gift of Life take great pleasure in honoring him for his birthday.

If you would like to join in on celebration this year, then consider signing up for  on February 27th, 2015 – which just happens to be the day after Marcus’ birthday. He’ll be there. Won’t you?

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2015 Christmas in the NICU: A Touch of Friendship for Preemie Parents

Many people debate over what has become of the true meaning of Christmas. To the parents who have to spend this holiday in the NICU with their preemies, the joy of the season is something that might be missed. Hectic Christmas shopping and the tradition of giving presents are the aspects of this holiday that cause some to claim that this celebration of peace, harmony, and love has fallen victim to commercialism. The noise of the debates over whether the day has lost its true meaning in the heart of American society is rendered meaningless of itself to families who have to spend 2015 Christmas in the NICU. As neonatologist Dr. Steven Abrams of Texas Children’s Hospital observed, “Parents of a baby in the NICU are already under enough pressure that Christmas shopping isn’t at the top of their to-do list”.

In neonatal intensive care units across the nation, non-profit organizations such as The Gift of Life pay a visit of support around the holidays, handing out gifts, providing entertainment, and giving emotional, educational, and financial support to the families of the babies there. The Gift of Life is based in Orlando and provides services and support to those in Florida Hospital NICU. Since 2012, we’ve been delivering love bears and preemie hats to hundreds of families. This year we also provided bears and thermal tote bags to the moms at Ronald McDonald House by Winnie Palmer. The thermal bags allow the mothers to safely transport their fresh breastmilk to the NICU.NICU Christmas Gifts Image

What was it Like to Visit the NICU for Christmas?

Preemies with Teddy Bears in NICUIn an ideal world, perhaps the neonatal intensive care units of every hospital would be an empty, boring place to be – all babies born would come perfectly healthy and when they’re due. This is the third year that Rosie Moore and The Gift of Life team returned to the Florida Hospital NICU around holiday time in order to hand out gifts to the families there. This particular NICU happens to be the same one where Kaleb, Rosie’s son was once a patient.

Unlike the utopic version, the NICU was full and extremely busy – not only were there a lot of preemies, but a lot of medical staff and many concerned parents. Despite the hecticness, some of the workers remembered Kaleb from his stay there 6 years ago. Although Kaleb had to wait outside the NICU because only adults were allowed in, pictures of how happy he is helped to brighten up their day. Kaleb’s story may be a miracle, but it is the same success story every preemie parent hopes for – some of them get their miracle, but too many don’t.

The Spreading of Joy, Love, and Hope

Desires tend to pique around Christmas; some hope to receive elaborate gifts. For the parents of preemies in the NICU the greatest present they could have is their child’s wellbeing – the second best is the support of people who truly care. Hopeful thought dwindle for some of those whose preemie is in a worse state than most – then there are those parents who have trouble seeing the bright side right from the start. Whether the adults in the NICU choose to take an optimistic or pessimistic outlook, it helps when they get to see firsthand the success of someone who has been where they are.

Jackie and Ashytyn joined in on The Gift of Life’s 2015 Christmas mission to the NICU and Ronald McDonald House, along with Miracle Kaleb. Their presence is significant to the families we serve because Ashytyn, now 18 years old, was also born prematurely – Jackie is her mom. This mother and daughter have their own miracle story to tell, and they have made it a point to always give back to the preemie community during all of The Gift of Life’s projects and events. Hats, bears, and emotional support were given out by this spectacularly inspirational team to the moms in the three NICU’s at Florida Hospital.

The value of a gift is not just in its price, the intensity of the craving for it, or in its practical use, but in the thought behind it. Those with babies in the NICU require much more in the way of physical resources than just a teddy bear or knit hat for their preemie, but the meaning behind these simple presents is so powerful and real that they often become prized possessions. The parents spending 2015 Christmas in the NICU were elated by the visit from The Gift of Life’s team – they were glad to find out that there was someone who had gone through the same experience, and who cared enough about them and their babies to be on their side.

Moving Forward by Doing What Matters

The mere presence of Ashytyn, the chance to look upon her beauty and health and realize that she was once a preemie in the NICU, touched the preemie parents right at that emotionally hurting spot in their hearts and provided comfort. Their reaction of joy to The Gift of Life’s visit was inspiring and motivating to our team – it was live proof that our work matters and makes a difference. We want to do more; our vision is to have a place where we can hold weekly support groups for these parents – it is a much needed service in Orlando and the surrounding areas. The parents of preemies must be empowered through knowledge and support, as this can have a direct impact on their babies’ wellbeing.

For now, we are pleased to continue providing services to Florida Hospital NICU and Ronald McDonald House during the Christmas season, but we are only able to achieve this through the generous contributions of the volunteers and financial givers who support The Gift of Life. The demand for our services grows with each passing year. For example, this year was the first time we had the privilege of being contacted for services by families in Indiana and Georgia – we served them with gifts of thermal bags, hats, and bears, as well as emotional support. also Currently, we are seeking more volunteer knitters to knit the preemie hats and love bears that we give out. We also require more financial supporters who can help us fund the maintaining and expansion of our organization.

Roise Moore with Jackie and Ashytyn at Florida Hospital NICU

Be a Part of Our Christmas in 2016: Connect with The Gift of Life

Preemie in Georgia NICUA stay in the NICU can be emotionally, physically, and financially taxing. When the parents are finally able to bring their preemies home from the hospital, we support them by providing a care package. We also like to help them celebrate their baby’s release from the NICU by giving parents gift cards they can use for a celebratory dinner. Our ultimate goal is to reach out to every preemie parent in the state of Florida, but that requires a lot of resources. If you are not already, please consider becoming one of our supporters by making a donation of any amount.

Hospitals interested in getting involved with The Gift of Life can feel free to contact us for more information. Business owners who want to become corporate sponsors should download our Corporate Sponsorship form. Preemie parents who want to connect with us and receive support can join our Facebook group. Even if you do not have the financial resources to assist in supporting us, you can donate your time by becoming a Gift of Life volunteer.

Every life is a miracle. Every parent who has a preemie in the NICU should be shown that there is someone who cares. Love and encouragement are the best gifts that can be given. The Gift of Life is an Orlando-based nonprofit organization founded and operated by preemie parents who want to give back – won’t you join us?

The Gift of Life Orlando Encourages the Celebration of World Prematurity Day 2015

Orlando-based non-profit organization The Gift of Life continues to serve local families whose lives are affected by the birth of a premature child. This year, the organization is calling for all who can to join them in celebrating World Prematurity Day, which is on November 17, 2015. Participants can join in on increasing awareness for this notable cause by wearing purple, the color of prematurity.


Just as the previous year, the City of Orlando will take part in Prematurity Day by lighting up City Hall’s water fountain and the tower of light sculpture in purple at around 5:45 pm until dawn of the next day. Area officials, including the Orange County Mayor and the Mayor of Windermere have continued to support the Gift of Life and the organization’s cause by declaring official days of recognition, encouraging citizens to realize what an impact prematurity has on the lives of both the infants and their families.


Rosie Moore, founder of The Gift of Life, was inspired to start the organization after her son Kaleb was born weighing only 1lb. 10 oz. At that time, several medical experts were of the opinion that Kaleb would not make it, but today he is a vibrant young boy whose life has been proclaimed a miracle story. Around Christmas, Kaleb can be found handing out gifts to parents and babies in the same NICU where he was once a patient; just one of the many ways The Gift of Life reaches out to support preemies and their families – Kaleb is a proud participant. Rosie captured the story of the struggles and triumphs of her son’s earliest days, authoring a book called A Story of Faith. Having experienced first-hand what parents of premature newborns have to face, she knows all too well what it means to them to know that someone does care about what they go through.


The Gift of Life is actively seeking volunteers to fill several positions in their organization. Corporate sponsors and individual philanthropists are always welcome to donate, hold events, and share ideas about how this organization can do more to reach and serve families in need. Premature birth is such a common instance that just about everybody knows someone whose life was in some way affected by it. This Tuesday, taking just the simple step of wearing purple with the motive of helping to raise awareness will do a lot of good. Those interested in learning more or teaming up with The Gift of Life can click here.


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