Late at night on Easter Sunday of 2016 I was admitted to the hospital. I was 25 weeks pregnant with my first baby. I was experiencing severe abdominal pain and had gained about 10 lbs in a very short period of time. After several blood tests it was determined that I had atypical and asymptomatic HELLP syndrome. HELLP is a very rare form of preeclampsia that affects the liver and blood. There are fewer than 20,000 reported cases per year in the US. The following morning I was rushed from a small hospital in Stamford, CT to Yale University in New Haven where their NICU regularly handles micro-preemies. Prior to this, we knew little to nothing about preemies, pre-term labor, preeclampsia, the NICU, March of Dimes or neonatal fatality. I was monitored around the clock for several days, given rounds of magnesium, shots of steroid to increase my baby's lung development and counseled by NICU doctors. In the midst of so much confusion, information and sickness I did not comprehend what was happening. When the teams of doctors entered my room every few hours and spoke to me about the possibility of early delivery I tuned out as I honestly believed this would not happen to us. My body grew sicker and on the evening of March 31st I went into organ failure resulting in pre-term labor at 26 weeks gestational. Our daughter Jemma Skye entered the world at 1 lb 4 ounces. She screamed like that of a normal full-term baby. She had the courage and grace of a warrior. Unfortunately, her body could not keep up with her determined spirit. After contracting a staph infection at the hospital and the slow deterioration of her lungs Jemma lost her battle with prematurity. In the wee hours of April 21st we took her off of life support. Jemma taught us the true meaning of life which is to love and to be loved. She touched the lives of everyone who was blessed enough to meet her and countless others.
We march in memory of our baby girl Jemma Skye. Jemma lived a short 21 days but changed our world for the better. We also march in honor of our baby boy Liev Jagger born at 32 weeks. We march to support the important work of March of Dimes, for every family who has had a baby in the NICU and for every family who has had to leave the hospital without their baby. The funds we raise enable March of Dimes to support research, lead programs and provide education and advocacy that truly makes a difference to families in our community and across the country. If you believe, like we do, that every baby deserves the best possible start, please MARCH WITH US on April 27th at Marlins Park or make a donation to support this amazing organization. Together we can fight for the health of all mothers and babies. As always, we are enternally grateful to all of you for your love and support over the last (almost) three years - that love and strength often carried us. We hope you will consider marching with us. xoxo Sloane, Gavin & Liev #teamjemmaskye
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