The Blackman Family
We always wanted to be parents, and we knew that we deserved the chance. Early in our marriage, we learned that we were both carriers to a chronic and devastating genetic disease, so adoption was a great opportunity for us. We were chosen for Alyssa because of my background as a pediatric nurse and our positive outlook on prematurity. Alyssa was born at a little over 29 weeks gestation weighing just over 2 pounds. Looking back, she followed a textbook development of a 30 week ex-preemie with setbacks such as anemia, feeding discrasias, gastro esophageal reflux, and fine motor delays. However, learning to care for, feed, and fully understand a preemie baby is truly a work of art. It took a village, and Alyssa’s village was only complete with the doctors and nurses at MHW where she spent 53 days just over 10 years ago. Maureen, Lovely, Francesca, Cindy: we are indebted to you all! Alyssa’s village expanded after discharge from the hospital, and we are forever grateful to Dr. Budowsky from Children’s Medical Center, the gastroenterologists and pulmonologists at JDCH, and Tina Milian, the finest occupational therapist in the universe from MHW.
Mike was inspired by the care we received in the NICU at MHW and the miraculous growth and development of our preemie princess. When Alyssa was born, he was taking classes to enter the nursing profession as a second career. Even before I entered the program, I yearned to make a difference in the lives of preemie parents and to pay it forward. Mike and Jennifer were given a gift, and they agreed to never take their blessings for granted. Mike has been working as a NICU level III RN for 8 years now. His nursing practice is motivated by a combination of my personal and professional experiences. However, his favorite part of nursing shifts is when he tells Alyssa stories to my families and how she continuously seems to come out on top. She is and will always be our super hero. With the support of the March of Dimes, more and more super heroes will emerge and we will continuously ask ourselves, “how do all of these babies defeat the odds the way my Alyssa did?”