World Prematurity Day

Here at The Prep Crew, prematurity awareness is a big deal.  Both Chadsey and I were born early, but now live happy, healthy, and fabulously preppy lives.  Today is the March of Dimes’ 1st annual World Prematurity Day.  Every year, 13 million babies across the globe are born too soon.  So, in hopes that someday all babies will be born full-term, here’s my story:

Photographic proof that I've been preppy since birth! The NICU nurses were so excited that I was a preemie that actually had hair, that they made me a little purple bow and glued it to my head 🙂

(originally posted on the March of Dimes’ national e-news letter)

My name is Karoline Zacharer and I was born 10 and a half weeks early on September 10, 1991.  I weighed only 2 lbs., 9 oz.  I could fit into the palm of my dad’s hand, and I was not yet fully formed.  Although my outlook back then wasn’t very bright, I am now a happy, healthy, energetic seventeen-year-old.

After I was born, I didn’t get to meet my parents for several days because I had to be kept in an isolette because I was still so fragile.  I remained in the Level IV neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU) at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston for several weeks.  Coupled with some of the best NICU care available at the time, I had two round-the-clock nurses, Diedre and Deborah, who traded 12 hour shifts and cared only for me.  After many weeks, I was discharged to a lower level NICU closer to my home at the Winchester Hospital.

Over the next couple of weeks at Winchester, my progress steadily improved and my setbacks were fewer and fewer.  And one morning in early November, about a week before my original “due-date”, I was brought home by my parents.  I was only 4 lbs. 4 oz.

I don’t remember those days, but I love to hear the stories from my aunts who considered purchasing doll clothing, in hopes that it wouldn’t be too big for me, like normal baby clothes were.  And my mom still calls me her “miracle baby”.  But to look at me now, you would never know what I went through back then.  After my release from the hospital, I had to participate in Early Intervention programs that help premature babies “catch up” in development to normal children of the same age.  At first, it was estimated that I would complete this process in three years, however, I was fully caught up by my first birthday.

Ever since, I have been a completely normal kid.  I led an active childhood, and have been involved in activities like dance classes and sports for as long as I can remember.  Nowadays, I lead the life of an average high school senior: hanging out with friends, applying to college, playing sports.  I’m even the captain of my school’s cross country and ski teams.  I’m an ordinary seventeen-year-old, I just got here in an extraordinary way.  I owe a lot to the March of Dimes and the research they do to help make sure that preemie babies end up happy and healthy, just like me.

I hope that you all can take a moment out of your busy days today to check out the March of Dimes website, or learn more about World Prematurity Day on Facebook.  I also wrote a post today on my personal blog with some pictures of me as a baby in the NICU.

Will you hug a preemie today?



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