Every year Rosie and Marcus Moore founders of The Gift of Life, take November 17 World Prematurity Day as a day to remember their little miracle Kaleb that was born 13 weeks early at 27 weeks, weighing only 1lb 10oz and 12 inches long. They remember the almost 6 months that he lived in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) growing, having medical issues, and hanging on to every breath, wondering if it would be his last one. They cried, they prayed, and lost sleep for months and even years after he went home. At birth, he was only given a 5% chance of survival, while Rosie, hung on for life as well after the emergency c-section. Marcus was at a loss with his only child possibly not making it, the love of his life in serious condition following the surgery. He clung to God, but also to the song He’s My Son by Mark Schultz. He prayed those words, he shouted, God can you hear me. Somedays there was silence and the emotions overcame him because he could not stand another day going to see his son suffering.
As Rosie got better, his spirits were lifted through her encouragement, that God would not provide him a son to take him away. He grew stronger each day until the day he finally came home. This past September, The Gift of Life held their 5th annual charity gala and Rosie decided that she would put together an assimilation of what life in the NICU was like for parents. Marcus and Tisha were to perform in the assimilation together, but due to the unexpected hurricane Tisha, Mrs. Virginia International, mother of preemies herself, was not able to get out to Orlando. But because Orlando has a huge heart for charity, Karen Shriner, professional actress, and singer stepped into the role 2 days before the event and evoked emotion along with Marcus from the audience.
See some of the remarks from the guests:
“I was overtaken with emotion, I could not stop crying.”
” I already knew the story because I went through it with Marcus and Rosie, but seeing the show tonight, brought me back to that moment and I cried like a baby.”
“I never knew that parents endured these emotions.”
“I was scheduled to work and did not know that my job today was involving an event for premature babies, it brought me back to when my daughter was born 14 yrs ago, I could not stop crying and I am supposed to be working the event.”
The list went on of people sharing their emotions.
The assimilation started with founder Rosie Moore saying:
“Imagine your baby being born 13 weeks early, weighing 1lb 10oz and fitting in the palm of your hand.”
From there, The NICU awareness video played:
Then the assimilation with Karen Shriner and Marcus Moore started to the song He’s My Son” by Mark Schultz. It showed the daily fears, tears, struggles, emotions of two parents while their baby was in the NICU. That is the story of Rosie and Marcus. Florida Hospital partnered with The Gift of Life to sponsor the Isolette similar to the one little Kaleb was in when he stayed in the NICU.
Many times Rosie would be alone in the room not wanting to go home while Marcus would go to the chapel or on the other side of the room praying as Rosie hunched over the isolette still healing from her surgery, weary from lack of sleep, and hurting to see her son lying in an isolette connected to wires, IV’s, breathing machines, coding frequently setting off alarms. In this assimilation that is what Karen and Marcus are doing assimilating those moments in the NICU.
They share this story with you today not so that you can feel sorry for them or any other preemie parent but so that they can raise awareness of what is happening with preemie parents when they are in the NICU. These emotions are real and painful.
The Gift of Life needs your help, they can’t do this alone, it takes a village of volunteers, board members, and financial support to reach as many families as they can.
I gave birth to Kaleb, but he birthed me into God’s purpose. Did you ever ask yourself what would my life look like if it turned out a different way? Many times I asked myself that question as my son was fighting for his life with a 5% chance of survival at birth. Kaleb was born prematurely 13 weeks early, weighing 1lb 10 oz, 12 inches long and fitting in the palm of my hand. That is not a story that you wish to hear from anyone. But day in and day out 1 in 10 babies are born prematurely. Some for health reasons on the part of the mother, the baby’s health, and some it is unknown. We struggle as parents wondering what we did wrong, how could we have avoided delivering early until we are blaming ourselves for it. Today I am here to tell you as a surviving mother of a premature baby that premature birth happens, it is not prejudiced. Premature birth affects all races, socioeconomic status, ages, and women all over the world.
When my son was born, I wanted to hide and not talk to anyone, but a wise woman pulled me out of my isolation and had me sharing my story before I could blink. She was the vehicle to make me see premature birth in a different light; a light that would make me care about others even though I was hurting. She encouraged me to go on and live with my son because he was a miracle.
Today he is a happy little boy. He is 9 years old and just full of life. The road here was not easy, but the journey to going home from the NICU was priceless. Join me as we wish our happy little miracle, Kaleb, a Happy Birthday!
In the words of director Andrew Stanton, “make me care.” By saying this to you, it is simple, a great story will make you care. Here at The Gift of Life, we have many stories, some that will make you laugh, some that will make you cry, and some that will make you feel good that you listened to it. These stories are what bring donations, volunteers, and sponsors because every day it is something new and your help can make a difference!
Every year The Gift of Life delivers Love Bears and Santa Hats to the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU). This year was no different. What is the story behind this passion that volunteers have to knit and crochet bears and hats? Love is the common denominator. If you can think of what it would be like to have a baby earlier than expected, lying in an incubator, fighting for his/her life, and being told that you cannot bring your baby home, this news is enough to put any parent into depression. Although we cannot change the circumstances, our volunteers get the meaning of the work that they do and with their talents bring a smile to the parents whose babies will not be going home. This year Florida Hospital and Winnie Palmer Hospital received Santa Hats. The families at Florida Hospital and families with babies in the Winnie Palmer NICU staying at the Ronald Mc Donald House also received Love Bears made by the senior citizens of The Good Samaritan Village, If we can bring a smile to ease the day for a grieving parent, then we have all done our job.
Merry Christmas from The Gift of Life!
Thank you to Bruce Reynolds, videographer for The Gift of Life Christmas Bear Delivery. Thank you to Jackie Pettit, mother of a premature baby who is now an adult, she dedicates her time to always preparing and delivering the Christmas hats and bears.
Contact The Gift of Life today to get involved in our knitters/crochet Facebook group who make the hats and bears all year round.
Eight years ago today a miracle was born, our son Kaleb Moore. He is the reason that the Gift of Life was founded. As parents, Marcus and I struggled with the thought of what would happen to our little baby if he did not make it.
The chance of survival was 5%. We both had a lot of faith that if God brought us this baby, that He would help him survive. Five and a half months in the NICU gave us a chance to think and see how other parents handled the premature birth of their baby. This is when we realized that we needed to do something to help others.
As I was waiting one day to wash my hands before entering the NICU, I started to watch the parents ahead of me. They had a solemn look on their faces and a look of worry. When it was Marcus’ turn, I noticed that he had that same look as the parents ahead of me. My turn came up to wash my hands and as I washed my hands, I looked up in the mirror and besides the tired eyes that stared back at me, I noticed something. I had that same solemn, sad, and worried face that the other parents had, “traumanicumized” as I call it.
I thought at that moment, we have been here 60 days and we do not know what is ahead for us, I can’t live my life in worry and not have faith. I asked myself what can I do, I would be the blind leading the blind.
I spoke with Marcus and we decided that we would spread cheer during the Christmas season to help us feel better. We started out with cookies for all the NICU units at our hospital as well as the labor and delivery unit and the high risk antepartum and postpartum unit. We thought that would cheer the nurses up, but started to think further as we were thinking of returning the following year. We, the parents, are the ones in need of support, so how do we make someone feel better? The cookies then became a part of our Christmas delivery until 2012 when we met some senior citizens who knitted bears. This started the Christmas bear deliveries.
From there, The Gift of Life was born and started delivering care packages on admission and discharge to the NICU with the help of their corporate partners at Enfamil, Aloma Printing, and Pampers. Today we are delivering packages all over the United States when they are requested by the parents in the NICU. Our goal is to one day reach every NICU in the United Staes from day one that the baby is admitted there.
Today help us celebrate Kaleb’s birthday with well wishes for him. If you are able to make a donation on his birthday, all donations go to help support our preemie mentor program and care package distribution all across the United States.
A Letter to Kaleb…
You were chosen by God to be on this earth, may this day be full of fun and exciting things today. You are a miracle and you will do great things in life. You are The Gift of Life’s Biggest ambassador, a living testimony that test and trials can be turned in to testimonies to encourage others. We love you so much.
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.
Visit The Gift of Life page www.thegiftoflife27.org