(Two) Down

One last post on this year’s March for Babies (though you can still donate to this year!).

While I didn’t meet my personal goal of $2000 this year, I went into Walk day at $1655, which felt pretty good! Plus, our team went in with $4060 – over $1000 more than our goal of $3000! That kept us at a proud, third place finish overall.

Hi friends,

One last post on this year’s March for Babies (though you can still donate to this year!).

Saturday was a beautiful day. Just like last year, it was so inspiring to see so many families in one place whose lives have been affected by March of Dimes in some way. We take solace in knowing we’re not the only ones, and we celebrate the success we’ve had because of the work of March of Dimes.

While I didn’t meet my personal goal of $2000 this year, I went into Walk day at $1655, which felt pretty good! Plus, our team went in with $4060 – over $1000 more than our goal of $3000! That kept us at a proud, third place finish overall (second in family teams).

One last big thank you to the following people who helped us do this!
Grandpa and Grandma Grasmeyer
Grandpa and Grandma Merritt
Aunt Jenna and Uncle Josh
Becky and Ryan Grasmeyer
Aunt Sharon and Uncle George
Mark and Heather Swierenga
Dan and Claire Larabel
Bill and Emily Madsen
Tyler and Tessa DeNooyer
Alesha and Jeremy Schut
Betsy and Eli Cromwell
Kimberly Reich
Autumn Bollman
Sarah and Josh Stuitje
Sarah Potter
Dale Waite
Lauren Edwards
Sue Snow
Anne Jansingh
Vicki DeKoning
Susan Whichard Babin

Two walks down, many to come!

(Two) Days

We’re just two days away from March Two (not the date – the March for Babies)! We’re not going to reach our goal of two thousand dollars this year, and though I’m bummed, I think I’m ok with it…

We’re just two days away from March Two (not the date – the March for Babies)! We’re not going to reach our goal of two thousand dollars this year, and though I’m bummed, I think I’m ok with it.

I can understand that the farther you get from your situation (in our case, Oaklee’s start), the less the people around you see it as a dire situation. Kevin and I are lucky to be able to see past Oaklee’s start most days and just enjoy living life with our (almost) two year old. It’s been a wild ride over these past two years, but we’re finally sailing smoother seas. 

I can only hope that by the time we have baby number two, we will only ever have smooth seas, we won’t spend a day in the NICU, and maybe… maybe our heart for the March of Dimes will one day fade, two (oops). 

But for this year, thank you to those of you who’ve chosen to invest again in an organization that means so much to us:
Grandpa and Grandma Grasmeyer
Grandpa and Grandma Merritt
Aunt Jenna and Uncle Josh
Becky and Ryan Grasmeyer
Aunt Sharon and Uncle George
Mark and Heather Swierenga
Dan and Claire Larabel
Bill and Emily Madsen
Alesha and Jeremy Schut
Betsy and Eli Cromwell
Kimberly Reich
Sarah and Josh Stuitje
Sarah Potter
Dale Waite
Lauren Edwards
Sue Snow
Anne Jansingh
Vicki DeKoning
Susan Whichard Babin

(Two) Weeks

With just two weeks to go until the March for Babies, I’m excited to report that we are in the Circle of Champions, having raised over $1000! We had a goal to raise $2000 this year, and I don’t think we’ll get there, but I am so happy to be able to give any amount to an organization that is fighting for the health of moms and babies in need.

With just two weeks to go until the March for Babies, I’m excited to report that we are in the Circle of Champions, having raised over $1000!

We had a goal to raise $2000 this year, and I don’t think we’ll get there, but I am so happy to be able to give any amount to an organization that is fighting for the health of moms and babies in need.

We learned two years ago how quickly you can become a mom or baby in need. We’ll forever be grateful for the ways God has blessed this organization to help those moms and babies through research and medical advancements that have helped saved thousands of lives.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to the following people who’ve helped us raise this much so far:
Grandpa and Grandma Grasmeyer
Grandpa and Grandma Merritt
Aunt Jenna and Uncle Josh
Becky and Ryan Grasmeyer
Aunt Sharon and Uncle George
Mark and Heather Swierenga
Dan and Claire Larabel
Alesha and Jeremy Schut
Sarah Potter
Dale Waite
Sue Snow
Anne Jansingh
Vicki DeKoning

Baby(‘s) (Two)

Kevin and I know all too well how blessed we are to have brought Oaklee into the world in the twenty-first century. Even 25 years earlier, things would have gone so differently. The research of organizations like March of Dimes is monumental in the care of preemies like Oaklee. Please consider making a contribution towards that research. No parent deserves to lose a child they’ve barely had. While we are incredibly lucky to have Oaklee with us today, there are thousands of parents every year who cannot say the same. Let’s change that together. 

Almost exactly two years ago, Kevin and I learned we would have to lean on medical advancements for the life of our baby. When my body began expelling vast amounts of blood at 16 weeks pregnant, we questioned whether the pregnancy would last and if so, how long it could manage.

11.5 weeks later, it could last no longer. Oaklee was born three months too soon. Her road was rocky at first. She spent 69 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She received an absurd amount of treatments and tests and scans for someone who was only 69 days old, but she came home with us.

Now she’s almost two. You might never be able to tell she was a preemie, but you probably didn’t have to live the life that follows prematurity.

You probably didn’t have to let the doctors sweep your baby and the machines keeping her alive out of the operating room minutes after her birth. You probably didn’t have to leave your baby in the hospital when you were discharged to go home. You probably didn’t have to cart your baby to specialist after specialist for the first 18 months of her life to determine if she was developmentally ok.

And you probably didn’t have to re-consider your future family planning because of how the birth of your first child went.

In one month, my family walks for Oaklee at the March for Babies. My family walks for Oaklee, and my family walks for any of my yet-to-be-born children. I want to believe I am never going to face the situation we faced with my first pregnancy again. But just in case, I cling tightly to the important research and changing practices in the healthcare of moms and babies like me and Oaklee. 

Please consider supporting the work of March of Dimes with me – for my family, for my yet-to-be-born children, for your family, for your neighbors, for your friends… You just never know who will end up using these life-saving resources.

(Two) Years Ago

Kevin and I know all too well how blessed we are to have brought Oaklee into the world in the twenty-first century. Even 25 years earlier, things would have gone so differently. The research of organizations like March of Dimes is monumental in the care of preemies like Oaklee. Please consider making a contribution towards that research. No parent deserves to lose a child they’ve barely had. While we are incredibly lucky to have Oaklee with us today, there are thousands of parents every year who cannot say the same. Let’s change that together. 

Two years ago on this day, Kevin and I excitedly told our families we were expecting a baby. What we weren’t expecting, was to have to tell them just 24 days later that things were not ok.

Over the course of April 6 and 7, we learned the terms “previa” and “abruption”. Relieved our baby was still alive, we knew she would have to fight to thrive amidst this situation. 

Just two and a half months later, my body was no longer fit to carry my child. She had fought and I had progressively given her a worse and worse atmosphere to develop in.

The doctors pulled my baby from me three months early to save her life. There were hours where it looked like she might not make it despite the incredible fight she’d put up on the inside. But there are medical advances that stepped in when I was no longer able to keep her safe. 

Kevin and I know all too well how blessed we are to have brought Oaklee into the world in the twenty-first century. Even 25 years earlier, things would have gone so differently. The research of organizations like March of Dimes is monumental in the care of preemies like Oaklee. 

Please, PLEASE consider making a contribution towards that research. No parent deserves to lose a child they’ve barely had. While we are incredibly lucky to have Oaklee with us today, there are thousands of parents every year who cannot say the same. Let’s change that together. 

March (Two)

If it’s in your heart to give, we pray you’ll consider donating towards Oaklee’s team in the March for Babies on May 5 in Grand Rapids, MI.

Friends,

I am beyond excited to be joining up with fellow mommies of preemies this year and marching once again in March of Dimes’ March for Babies!

After Oaklee was born three months premature, I started hearing names here and there of girls from my past who had also had premature babies and had also spent time living the NICU life. I could not believe how many of us there are even just from my high school! For my second March, I’m teaming up with these ladies and their babes, and together we’re fighting for healthy moms and strong babies.

As I’ve mentioned before, 1 in 10 babies are born premature. Prematurity is the #1 cause of infant mortality.

So what does March of Dimes do? Allow me to borrow their simplest definition: “March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies.” And then let’s add words from their materials to explain they, “focus on fighting birth defects, premature birth and infant death with innovations like newborn screenings and surfactant therapy; education for medical professionals and the public about best practices; and lifesaving research. [They] provide comfort and support to families in NICUs and advocated for those who need [them] most, moms and babies.”

So what did March of Dimes do for us? March of Dimes grantees helped develop surfactant therapy, which was introduced in 1990, and has since then reduced the rate of death by Respiratory Distress Syndrome (which Oaklee was diagnosed with upon birth) in half. They’re also working on new approaches to deliver inhaled nitric oxide (a treatment Oaklee also had) to where it is needed in the lungs to prevent Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia. This is the type of research we need people to do, and the frontrunner for why this little family of three wants to raise money for an organization that may have literally saved Oaklee’s life.

On a smaller scale, the March of Dimes NICU Family Support is also a great program. Being in the NICU is hell. I wouldn’t wish any amount of time there on my worst enemy, but I’m so very grateful for the good things the NICU Family Support program is doing because the little things make a huge difference. They gave us booklets of information that took words like “surfactant therapy” and “bronchopulmonary dysplasia” and put them into laymen’s terms that even the just-gave-birth-and-desperately-in-need-of-a-transfusion woman could understand. They offered educational classes with previous NICU parents and Lactation Consultants and other various experts. They gave us keepsake books, milestone markers and little gift bags. And, oh my gosh, the little rubber duckies we found at Oaklee’s isolette on the holidays she spent in the NICU… It truly is the little things, isn’t it?

Simply put, raising $2000 is not enough to repay March of Dimes for what they did for us, but we’ll start there, and someday we’ll find a way to continue giving, to continue improving the outlook for premature babies like Oaklee.

So if it’s in your heart to give, I pray you’ll consider donating towards Oaklee’s team in the March for Babies on May 4 in Grand Rapids, MI. And if you’re local, we’d love to have you walk on our team with us. So many of you have already proven your place in the village that will raise our child and it is such a blessing to have you on Team Oaklee today and every day.

Taggies for Preemies

Looking back on Oaklee’s short story so far, we’re so grateful little moments of joy we found in the stressful time of becoming parents of a preemie. If you know of someone who’s just welcomed a preemie into their family, allow me to welcome them to the club with a little moment of joy, the gift of an embroidered taggy for the new preemie. Oaklee loved her taggy, and on behalf of her, we’d like to pass the blessing on.

It’s May, and I’m over here dreaming up what the next installment of mandigrasmeyer.com might be when the 2018 recap of 2017 is over. I have a lot of ideas and dreams of what to do and where this could go, but one thing remains constant – I want this to be a space for uniting. I never want to build walls or tear people apart by the content here.

That being said, part one of the 2019 plan is to offer free taggies to new preemies. Maybe this will go nowhere. Maybe some day I’ll be asking for the help of other sewers. But this is where we start.

Looking back on Oaklee’s short story so far, we’re so grateful little moments of joy we found in the stressful time of becoming parents of a preemie. If you know of someone who’s just welcomed a preemie into their family, allow me to welcome them to the club with a little moment of joy, the gift of an embroidered taggy for the new preemie. Oaklee loved her taggy, and on behalf of her, we’d like to pass the blessing on.

While this will not be advertised until 2019, it will be available now to the friends and family of my faithful followers. Thank you for following. Thank you for caring. Thank you for thinking of the littlest ones in the world.

Order a Preemie a Taggy Today!

Sponsor Oaklee's March of Dimes team.

We Fundraised, We Marched, We Celebrated

Wow, what a journey it’s been these past few months as we worked toward the March for Babies. Back in January, we set out on a quest to raise $1000 for March of Dimes. Over the course of the next four months, we met our goal, raised it twice, and met it two more times, bringing in $2799 as a team. Do we have amazing people or what?

Wow, what a journey it’s been these past few months as we worked toward the March for Babies. Back in January, we set out on a quest to raise $1000 for March of Dimes. Over the course of the next four months, we met our goal, raised it twice, and met it two more times, bringing in $2799 as a team. Do we have amazing people or what?

My passion for this organization obviously stems from my previous experience with Oaklee, but here are some observations I made on the journey toward the March for Babies that continued to confirm this calling isn’t over:

1 – I will never not care about moms being healthy and babies being strong. It bothers me that babies die before they ever live their lives.
2 – If you spent an extended amount of time in the NICU with your kiddo, you support March of Dimes. As we got closer to the walk, I continued to learn of more and more girls from my high school who also had preemies and were also raising money for March of Dimes. Like me, they get it. We need this organization so others don’t have to go through what we went through.
3 – I raised money on behalf of Oaklee, but also on behalf of any unborn child I might have, because I am all too aware that I may need the assistance of March of Dimes again someday. I don’t want to be afraid of being pregnant or having another preemie, but the reality is that I have every right to be afraid, so until then, let’s continue helping moms be healthier and babies be stronger.

The fundraiser doesn’t end here – you can still make a donation if you feel called – but here is where I close this first chapter on my March for Babies. I’ll leave the link to sponsor Oaklee’s team in my posts until the 2018 event is officially over, but I’ll stop bugging you all otherwise. We came so close to $3000 this year, but if $2799 is where we stay, that’s $1799 more than we thought we could bring in. Thank you for making that happen!

March for Babies

Sponsor Oaklee's March of Dimes team.

And once more, thank you, thank you, thank you to the following donors (our village, our people, our blessing):
Grandpa and Grandma Grasmeyer
Grandpa and Grandma Merritt
Uncle Todd
Aunt Jenna and Uncle Josh
Aunt Sharon and Uncle George
Noel Montelongo
Lukas Muellerleile
Josh and Sarah Stuitje (and friends)
Eli and Betsy Cromwell
Mark and Heather Swierenga
Tyler and Tessa DeNooyer
Dan and Claire Larabel
Matt and Kim Dykstra
Lyndsay and Curt Syswerda
Bill and Emily Madsen
Alesha and Jeremy Schut
Pat and Roy DeBoer
Bill and Alie Hart
Sarah Potter
Karissa Hamm
Laura Sommerville
Jeff Kruithof
Nathan Diekevers
Lauren Edwards
Jason, Sue, Peyton and Taylor Snow
Ryan, Becky, Grant, Grace and Claire Grasmeyer
Jim and Short Holwerda
Brett Buckingham
Katy Engman

6.9 Days to the March for Babies

Again, Oaklee’s first 69 days of life were spent in the NICU. Multiply these next 6.9 days by 10. That’s 10 weeks. It’s a long time to need organizations such as March of Dimes. We wish no one needed them in the first place, but we’re grateful for their presence in Oaklee’s journey.

So again, we ask, could you help us reach further past our fundraising goal of $2250?

Friends, we’ve got 6.9 days to finish up our fundraising for the March for Babies.

I have to share that we’ve been blown away by the response to this fundraiser. I’ve said it before, we have a village. Our village carried us through much of our pregnancy and the first couple months of Oaklee’s life, but you know what? They’re not done. We asked people to contribute to an organization near and dear to our story, and they did, despite that organization meaning little to themselves personally.

Thank you to every person who donated. Every donation, big or small, got us far beyond our goal of $1000, past our goal of $1500 and even above our goal of $2250. We’re sitting around $2382 currently, goals met, the walk coming up soon, but we won’t stop asking until the walk is over.

Again, Oaklee’s first 69 days of life were spent in the NICU. Multiply these next 6.9 days by 10. That’s 10 weeks. It’s a long time to need organizations such as March of Dimes. We wish no one needed them in the first place, but we’re grateful for their presence in Oaklee’s journey.

So again, we ask, could you help us reach further past our fundraising goal of $2250?

Every donation helps expand programs and educate medical professionals to make sure moms and babies like me and Oaklee get the best possible care. Your donation is funding research to find solutions to the biggest health threats and supporting moms through every stage of the pregnancy journey, especially when things don’t go as planned.

Could you give even a dime for each day Oaklee was in the NICU ($6.90)? Thanks, in advance, for your contribution!

Sponsor/Join Oaklee's March of Dimes team.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to the following donors (our village, our people, our blessing):
Grandpa and Grandma Grasmeyer
Grandpa and Grandma Merritt
Uncle Todd
Aunt Jenna and Uncle Josh
Aunt Sharon and Uncle George
Noel Montelongo
Lukas Muellerleile
Josh and Sarah Stuitje (and friends)
Eli and Betsy Cromwell
Mark and Heather Swierenga
Tyler and Tessa DeNooyer
Dan and Claire Larabel
Matt and Kim Dykstra
Lyndsay and Curt Syswerda
Bill and Emily Madsen
Alesha and Jeremy Schut
Pat and Roy DeBoer
Bill and Alie Hart
Sarah Potter
Karissa Hamm
Laura Sommerville
Jeff Kruithof
Nathan Diekevers
Lauren Edwards
Jason, Sue, Peyton and Taylor Snow

P.S. Click here for a reminder of what March of Dimes does/did for us.

Donating Dimes

We’ve got 69 days to finish up our fundraising for the March for Babies. Who cares? We do. Could you give a dime for each day Oaklee was in the NICU ($6.90)?

Friends, we’ve got 69 days to finish up our fundraising for the March for Babies. Who cares? We do.

Oaklee’s first 69 days of life were spent in the NICU. When talking about raising money, 69 days doesn’t seem long enough. When talking about living in the NICU, it feels like an eternity. In these next 69 days, could you help us reach our fundraising goal of $1000?

Every donation helps us get a little bit closer to our goal and, ultimately, helps expand programs and educate medical professionals to make sure moms and babies like me and Oaklee get the best possible care. Your donation is funding research to find solutions to the biggest health threats and supporting moms through every stage of the pregnancy journey, especially when things don’t go as planned.

If you’re not feeling gung-ho like us Grasmeyers over here, could you give a dime for each day Oaklee was in the NICU ($6.90)? Thanks, in advance, for your contribution!

Sponsor/Join Oaklee's March of Dimes team.

P.S. Click here for a reminder of what March of Dimes does/did for us.