Thursday, March 8, 2012

We Desperately Need Your Help

My niece, born at 26 weeks gestation. 1 pound, 14 oz.
In a little over a week, we're 22 authors and artists strong, and have raised $155 for the March of Dimes! But we're not even close to our goal, and we need your help!

You've probably seen the statistics and heard the stories on prematurity by now, but the reality is a lot more grim than anyone wants to believe. I know this because I see it firsthand every day. My niece, and two nephews were micropreemies, and Aloshua still deals with the consequences every day.

But that's not all I see.

Those of you who know me know that I work with the families of preemies every single day as a coordinator for a local guest house for parents that have children in intensive care. Over 800 such families stay with us every year, and I hear their stories, see their pictures, and sit with their parents while they cry and pray that everything turns out okay.

In many cases, the babies we've all been pulling for at work graduate from the NICU and get to go home. No matter if theyre going home with ten pieces of medical equipment, those are the days when we celebrate. The fear lurking in mommy's eyes turns to relief, and dad is shaking hands with everyone, thanking them for everything they've done to help his family through the weeks or months of uncertainty and confusion. Their baby is finally going home for the first time in weeks or months.

Those days are perfect, and they're painted against a backdrop of days that are anything but. Most of the families I work with spend months in the hospital while their children fight for their lives. In a lot of cases, those children were simply born too soon, and now have serious medical complications as a result. They're literally fighting for their lives, and they've never even had a chance to live.

Rarely a week goes by when we don't lose one of those babies. There are no words to describe the fear a parent goes through when they baby they've been waiting to meet comes too early. It's impossible to describe the grief a parent feels when they lose their baby before he or she ever got to leave the hospital. It's devastating, and it's something 1 million families go through every single year. It's also something we can help prevent.

In the last couple of years, the rate of premature birth has decreased slightly thanks to the committment of the March of Dimes. It's our goal to help them continue to turn the tide and make sure that no other family ever has to feel the devastation of losing their baby. And we desperately need your help to do it.

We've worked together as a fandom and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for nonprofit organizations the world over in the last few years, and we need you to help us do it again, because all of the work the March of Dimes has done since Fandom for Preemies ran in 2010 is now at greater risk than ever.

Most of us pay $5 for a single large cup of our favorite coffee at Starbucks every morning, or for an Egg McMuffin and a hashbrown at McDonalds on the way to work. For most of us, it's not a lot of money, but for the March of Dimes, it can be the difference between funding a research grant that saves lives or cutting those very programs. And those programs are being cut even as we speak.

In a lot of states, funding is currently being cut for women's health programs for political reasons. We're not here to talk about that or to take sides in the debate raging around us, but I will say that, as a result of these cuts, in Texas alone, 400,000 more women than last year will not have access to adequate prenatal care this year. That's 400,000 more women that are now at risk of having a preterm birth that could have been prevented. And that's only one state.

There are 49 other states in the United States alone facing the same crisis, and in far too many cases, it's infants that are paying for it. We can help stop this, and it'll cost you nothing more than one cup of coffee this week or one movie rental next week.

Please consider making your $5 donation to the March of Dimes to help us ensure that families like those I work with aren't put at greater risk of losing their children, and that families like Leah's, like Andy's, like mine, and like everyone else in the fandom who has had a preemie have one less reason to worry that their friends children will go through the same thing that children like Aybra, Kaia, and Aloshua, or Maddie, Kaydence, Liam, Dakota, and Tiana went through.

Can't afford to make the donation? Challenge your friends and family to help you. If you and four friends pitch in $1 a piece, you've made the $5.00 donation. If you and nine friends pitch in $1, you've made a $10 donation. Collect pocket change from friends, family and coworkers. Do you make awesome cake or cute scarves? Raffle off an item to your friends and donate the proceeds to the March of Dimes. There are a thousand different ways you can raise $5 for the March of Dimes, and believe me when I say that it does make a difference, especially now.

For those of you who write, consider signing on to write. Your contribution doesn't have to be long. It doesn't even have to be a story. It can be a poem. It can be a haiku. It can be a collaboration between you and friends. It can be that short story gathering dust on the bookshelf, or that flash fiction story or fanfiction drabble you've not found a use for just yet. What you write is up to you, but we do need you to write. You don't have to be a big name author, you don't even have to be a fanfiction author. Write what you want to write, however you want to write it, and help us say thank you to everyone who has helped us raise much needed funds for the March of Dimes by donating the piece to the Preemie Compilation.

As we've said here before, there is no guarantee that any of us won't be the next to have a preemie. Millions of women from every socio-economic background, every religion, every race, and every culture are affected by prematurity because it can and does strike with no rhyme and no reason, and it can strike any family at any time. I know, because see it every single day.

(AydenMorgen, A.K. Morgen) 

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