Zakk Slater from K92.3 Shares About World Prematurity Day

Zakk Slater from K92.3 Shares About World Prematurity Day

Zakk Slater radio personality from K92.3 shares his story about Baby Olivia who was born prematurely.  He joins The Gift of Life in supporting World Prematurity Day by asking his listeners to wear purple to help raise awareness for premature birth.

1 in 10 babies is born prematurely according to the March of Dimes statistics. The Gift of Life provides emotional support during the crisis that the parents are enduring while they are in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).  Being in the NICU as a parent is a stressful time and having parent mentors to give you encouragement during that time is one of the services that the Gift of Life offers to families.  This is why it is important to recognize premature birth on November 17 by wearing purple and making donations.  Not everyone knows what it is like to endure premature birth, but imagine this…..having a baby so small that he fits in the palm of your hand, being born 13 weeks early, and weighing 1lb and 10oz.  That is the story of Rosie and Marcus Moore founders for The Gift of Life, but this is not just their story; many others endure this crisis.

Visit The Gift of Life today at to become involved or make a donation.

Join our online facebook event raising awareness for Premature birth.  Wear purple Friday and or Saturday, November 16th and 17th, take a picture or video in support of The Gift of Life

Never Lose Hope

Never Lose Hope

When parents are in the NICU, it is a roller coaster ride day in and day out.  There will be good days that the baby is doing well and then there are the days when the baby’s life is in danger because the baby’s condition has taken a step backward.  Many times it is infections that will cause the baby’s breathing needs to increase so they have to remain on life support longer, other times it is surgery, making the baby’s progress unknown.  It is a day to day management of the baby’s needs.  This type of stress takes its toll on a parent where they lose hope on those days and they do not have anywhere to turn.  Family and friends are there for the parents, but after a while, the support becomes less and less and the parents only have each other to hold on to.  When both parents have lost hope and do not have a place to turn, it becomes daunting and unbearable.

As a parent of a preemie myself, I had those days and each and every time when my husband and I went out to our car we would walk saddened to the car in the long walk through the parking garage wondering what will become of our baby and how will we cope.  However on those days without fail, every time we got in our car to drive home, we would listen to Z88.3 a contemporary Christian radio station that offers support to listeners through positive radio music and the song that  each and every time came on was “The Voice of Truth.”  The song speaks about having faith to stand before a giant and the strength to carry on.  The song gives encouragement that any trial we face God has the last say.  We took that song to heart and each time we received bad news remembered it at the very moment the bad news came and we would listen to it on the radio when it came on.  We had nothing else but our faith to hold on to.

Regardless of what your religious beliefs are, this song will encourage you through the difficult times.

It was such a powerful song, that it was performed at our charity gala twice by two different performers to give hope and encouragement to the preemie parents attending that year.

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What If Life Started Like This?

What If Life Started Like This?

Alayne Gatto shares a brief moment of what life is like in the NICU.  It is a stressor to a new mom regardless if that is her first baby or her second, or third to be admitted to the hospital preterm and have a baby born early and whisked away to the neonatal intensive care unit.

Many studies have been done to show that the stress involved in the parents during that time has caused depression, physical illness with high blood pressure, anxiety, and more.

The Gift of Life strives to be there for these parents through support from mentors that have been in that situation before.  They support the families, rejoice, and celebrate the moments with them.  During a crisis, they are there to bring that needed comfort to get them through that difficult time.

This November 17th is World Prematurity Day. Wear your purple to raise awareness about premature birth.  Post your pictures and videos on our event page

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A Look in to Fatherhood from a Mother’s Eyes

The Gift of Life loves to share stories from our very own families that we support because they are real and heartfelt.  Today’s story explores what it is like to be a father of twin premature girls, from a mother’s eyes.  We are so blessed to have Jen Labriola bring you this story today.  Jen is the mother of twin preemie girls.  She also dedicates her time to doing graphic work for the Gift of Life. Thank you Jen for all you do!

I have to hold back a laugh as I watch my husband fumble with putting a sandal on our squirming 1-year-old daughter. He’s confused by the straps, frustrated by a moving child, but does it because she wants her sandals on even though she’s still learning to walk. Of course, you have to do what she wants, she’s just too darn cute to say no to. I offer to take over so he can eat dinner since he’d let me eat in peace, away from our twin daughters. He happily obliges and I easily slide on her sandal with a laugh.

My husband and I have always been a team. We battled infertility, we struggled with a difficult pregnancy and then were warriors dealing with our twin girls in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Now nearly two years later, we’re still a team when it comes to parenting.

When I think of Father’s Day, I go back to our days in the NICU as our girls spent three months there, this part of our life is very much ingrained in us. The seriousness of these months left an unforgettable stamp on our life. I think for us moms, it’s a bit different since we carried our babies inside, thus we have a more intimate relationship with our children. Fathers, on the other hand, seemingly get tossed into reality once the baby (or babies) are born.

I’ll never forget my husband’s face during my C-section, it pretty much was shock, excitement, worry and “oh crap.”  We saw our girls, and from then on were called “mom and dad.” I felt a pang of guilt as it seems I had to make all the decisions in regards to our girls – I got to hold them first, first kisses, first everything as dad watched on and happily took seconds on holding our girls for the first time. Now the girls are about to turn two, and as a dad, the girls absolutely adore him.

We have different roles in regards to their upbringing. We balance each other out, take turns when one of us is ready to pull our hair out and best of all, we watch out for each other. Even though I feel slightly jealous, both of our girls first word was “dad,” the joy on his face to hear his own children calling him that was priceless.

Having a dad is invaluable in a child’s life. The fact that you have another person who loves and cherishes you so much, to protect you and be there for you, is what we truly celebrate with Father’s Day. My girls and I are lucky to have him. So Happy Father’s Day to you rookie dads, veteran dads and for you dads to be. We love and deeply appreciate you not only on this day, but every day. Happy Father’s Day!

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Because Life is a Gift, We Treasure Each Moment….


A Mother’s Approach to the NICU

The Gift of Life from time to time has guest bloggers and real life stories.  Today we have a story by Danielle, the mom of a preemie.  Take a moment to read Danielle’s journey through the preterm birth of her baby in her own words.

My story. I’ve been asked a time or two to write it, but find it really difficult to think about that time. Those times. Two of them. No, my story isn’t as bad as some and my kids are doing quite well, but it still leaves its mark. Six years on and I still wonder if I will ever approach birthday time without flashbacks of all the beeping of monitors, frantic wishes for another breath, tears at yet another bad day.

I would have been fine without kids. I had been told by various medical professionals that pregnancy was unlikely anyway. Yet, there I was, staring at two pink lines. A few weeks later, the doctor said “it isn’t viable.” He told us to go home and wait for a miscarriage. That was how we spent Christmas and New Year’s. At 27 weeks (after he admitted it “might” be viable), he told me I had to go to the hospital because my blood pressure was too high. A few days later, a nurse sheepishly handed me a pamphlet about living wills and scurried away. I found out that the doctor told my husband I had a 50% chance of surviving and he wouldn’t even put a number on our daughter. Next month she will be 6.

You know all those posts about bonding with your baby and oh-so-sweet labor stories? Ya, none of that. I didn’t want to see her. She looked like an alien monkey. I didn’t want to get out of bed. It hurt. It physically hurt and the guilt of not keeping her healthy and safe emotionally hurt. The poor nurse – I was so angry at yet another stick of my 1lb 12oz baby’s poor, bruised foot. The surgeon hovered and threw out acronyms like NEC. Yet, 56 days later Willow passed her car seat test and came home.

She rushed through milestones like she rushed through pregnancy. Today, she struggles a bit with ADHD and SPD, but races through each day with more exuberance than I know how to handle. She is my sunshine.

My second pregnancy lasted 32 weeks. I think stress played a big factor in that one. Ocean made it to 4lbs 7oz and only 3 weeks in the NICU. We felt like pros, waving away explanations of the process. Still, the hour drive each way, every day took its toll on both our strength and our finances. Ocean has a dairy allergy, is more susceptible to seasonal allergy issues, and has some anxiety-related issues, but nothing major. She will be 4 in July.

We are lucky. My daughters lived and so did I. They didn’t come home with tubes or machines or scars from surgeries. Yet, I still check every night to see if they are breathing. I still worry and Google every learning issue. I wonder how they will do through their own reproductive journey. They are beautiful and happy. So why does is it so painful to remember? Why is it so hard to crochet preemie hats without crying? PTSD, maybe, although I feel selfish for my feelings considering some friends had preemies who didn’t make it.

The lesson here is this: no matter how much time you have to spend “parenting” and no matter someone else’s experience, you are still you with feelings and experiences that deserve recognition. There was no time for that in the NICU or when we brought the tiny babies home. Even now, a minute to complete a thought is so rare. Only recently – almost 6 years after – did I start to remember more of the stress. Only with recognition, support, and patience was I able to acknowledge all the pain, anger, depression, and fear and morph into a healthier, more peaceful individual. A better parent, a better spouse, a better me. I read posts and comments by older moms of preemies now grown and they talk about it like it was nothing, completely over-shadowed by a lifetime of great memories. I made it this far. So will you.


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Yay! We are Going Home!! But my baby is needing to be fed how??

Getting ready for the big day to leave the hospital is so very exciting, but it is normal to feel nervous when you think about the tasks that the nurses have supported you with while the baby was in the hospital. Now you have to complete those tasks on your own.  

Depending on your baby’s medical diagnoses, it is possible that feeding your baby may be a bit more complicated than you originally had imagined.  Here are some potential scenarios that you may be faced with but remember, you are not alone, and someone else has been through a similar situation.  And Gift of Life is only an email, a message or a phone call away!

Tube/Gavage Feedings 

Although it is not common for a preemie to be discharged from the NICU on tube feedings, sometimes it is necessary.  A small flexible tube may be inserted into the mouth or the nose that passes down into the stomach and may be used for continuous or intermittent feedings.  Sometimes this is used if the baby is not strong enough to be obtain adequate nutrition directly from the breast or a bottle.


Healthcare professional recommend feeding babies breast milk.  In order to meet the unique needs of a premature baby, in addition to your baby nursing on the breast or taking your breast milk from a bottle, often it is  recommended use a breast milk fortifier and/or supplement you breastmilk with formula.


Your healthcare provider may recommend adding a human milk powder fortifier or a powdered formula to your pumped breast milk in order to add extra nutrients that your premature baby may need to continue to catch up in growth and development.


Many mothers may choose to use a combination of formula or breast milk or exclusively use formula to meet the nutritional needs of their premature infant.  Special formulas have been designed for the premature baby to use at discharge.

All of the above feeding scenarios have enabled your baby to be discharged so that you can care for your baby in the comfort of your home.  With your love and the support from others, as well as the nutrition you will be feeding your baby, will allow your baby to grow and thrive!

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