March for Babies: A Mother of a Movement™
Our country is facing an urgent maternal and infant health crisis. The U.S. remains among the most dangerous developed nations for childbirth, especially for women and babies of color. Together we need to UNITE, CONNECT, HONOR and CARE for families now.
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Together we'll fight to improve maternal and infant health, and ensure that every mom and baby gets the best possible start.Register now
March for Babies: A Mother of a Movement™ is your chance to step up to make a real difference in your community now and for generations to come.
By joining us in this movmement:
for health equity, opening the door for all moms to have access to care and protecting the health of families by advocating for their rights.
year-round through customized challenges and team building activities that engage employees, families and friends who want moms and babies to be healthy and strong.
motherhood, babies and those who've experienced loss by staying active and creating change.
for all families throughout their pregnancy—whether it goes as planned or has unexpected challenges—by raising critical funds, so moms and babies get the best possible start.
Meet our families
MEET THE SILBERTS
There weren’t many things that scared Jen Silbert, but when she and her husband, Cameron, started trying to get pregnant, she was terrified of two things: preterm birth and/or having a sick child due to her family’s history of pregnancy complications.
After a difficult nine-month IVF journey, Jen got pregnant after the second transfer. But her biggest fears came true: at 25 weeks her water broke, and she was diagnosed with preeclampsia and admitted to the hospital. Three days later, she had a placental abruption and was rushed in for an emergency Cesarean birth. Jesse Silbert was born at 26 weeks and two days, weighing only 1 pound, 5 ounces. Jen and Cameron weren’t able to hold him until six weeks later.
After 291 days in the hospital, Jesse was finally able to go home. He has chronic lung disease and is still on a ventilator and has a trach and G-tube. However, he’ll outgrow his lung disease over the coming year or two and should be equipment-free by age three or four.
Prior to getting pregnant, Jen and Cameron were involved with March of Dimes for over five years because of Jen’s sister’s pregnancy challenges. “My sister’s team, Team Overdorff, has raised over $120,000. It’s special to be able to do this together, as we’ve been touched by preterm labor, infant loss and maternal health concerns three times. And now with Jesse in the mix, March for Babies hits closer to home than ever.”
MEET THE WILTONS
Guilt is a powerful emotion, especially as a parent. “What’s wrong with me? Why is my body failing our family?” These are questions Katie Wilton asked herself throughout her pregnancy, as she experienced complications.
Katie hemorrhaged for the first time when she was 22 weeks pregnant, which continued for the next eight weeks. “About 25 percent of the blood in my body I had lost from all the hemorrhaging,” she says. But doctors couldn’t figure out what was causing the bleeding.
While Katie was experiencing guilt regarding the “failure” of her body, Kevin was faced with a different set of questions: “What can I do to help my wife in this situation? How can I be supportive? How do I fix this?” The hardest part for him, on top of having no answers, was not being able to do anything.
After having two hemorrhages three days apart, Katie was brought into triage to be assessed—that’s when doctors discovered she was in preterm labor. Five days later Colette was born at 30 weeks, weighing just three pounds, one ounce. It wasn’t until after she was born that it was concluded that there were multiple placental abruptions.
March of Dimes played an important role in saving Colette’s life. She received surfactant, a treatment developed by March of Dimes-funded research. Katie says, “Colette would have had greater pulmonary issues than she does had we not had surfactant therapy to protect her lungs.”
Today Katie volunteers with March of Dimes, and she advocated on behalf of the health of moms and babies on Advocacy Day for our March for Change campaign. “I’m extremely passionate about advocating to get all parents access to the specialized maternal health care that they need,” she says.
March of Dimes’ work advocating for policies that address the nation's health equity gap and increase equitable access to care—such as increasing Medicaid postpartum extension coverage from 60 days to 12 months—is as critical as ever. Together, we can continue protecting the health of families by funding research, providing resources and programs and advocating for policies to help parents throughout their pregnancies.
MEET THE SHOEMAKERS
After 12 months, Paul and Samantha Shoemaker were finally able to conceive. But one morning that relief turned to worry when Samantha sensed something was wrong. Her doctor sent her to triage where the doctors couldn’t find a heartbeat. At 26 weeks, Cy was stillborn.
“Nothing can prepare you for the idea of heading into the hospital to deliver a baby that has already passed away,” said Paul. A nurse guided them through the process of getting Cy’s footprints and handprints and being weighed and measured—"All those things that you want to be able to do, especially as a first-time parent,” Samantha said. “We got to spend time with him. We got to take pictures so we can remember what he looked like.”
The grief was crippling for a very long time. In September 2019, Paul and Samantha were expecting again. Though none of their family could be there with them due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cal was born healthy. Today, he’s spunky, curious and happy.
The Shoemakers created Cy’s Team for March for Babies, an event they feel strongly about and as a great way for friends and family to support them while honoring Cy’s short life. Paul said, “March of Dimes was helpful to open up about loss. People just came out of every corner of our lives sharing similar stories.” Samantha added: “I want others to support March of Dimes to give every mom and every baby the absolute best chance that they can have.”
MEET THE KILGORE FAMILY
Dani Kilgore's journey to motherhood wasn’t picture perfect. In 2010 she experienced her first devastating miscarriage, but she was able to try again. In 2013, in excellent health, she became pregnant with a son, William Jr. However, at 28 weeks, she was rushed to surgery for an emergency C-section. William Jr. was born weighing just 15.3 ounces. Though he was a fighter, he just couldn’t survive.
After her son’s death, she experienced another miscarriage, but then in 2015 she and her husband learned they were pregnant. She was nervous, but took every precaution recommended by her doctors. On July 15, 2015, little Harper Avery Kilgore was born at 35 weeks. She has hearing loss as a result of her preterm birth. Her journey to grow her family didn’t stop there. After her daughter’s birth, she had two more miscarriages.
In 2020, after participating in the virtual March for Babies, Dani shared her journey on Facebook. She hopes her story will help others feel brave to share theirs because everyone’s story is valuable and spreads hope. As an African-American mom, Dani understand the statistics around the inequities in health care and the death rate of moms and babies of color. Her hope is that with March of Dimes she can raise awareness of these disparities and create change for all families.
With your help, you can help moms and babies like Dani and Harper Avery and so many more.
MEET THE ROWEN FAMILY
Azizah Rowen was excited when she found out she was pregnant with her second son, Wilder. But sadly, she was also scared because she never had easy pregnancies. While her first son, Dash, was born healthy and on time, she had two miscarriages prior. In addition, she experienced "pretty much every complication in the book," making her at high risk. "I was nervous and on edge the entire time I was pregnant," she says. But she was also confused—she and her husband, Craig, had never had any prior health complications.
After an initial scare that led her to being monitored in the hospital for a few nights, 31 weeks into her pregnancy with Wilder, Azizah's complications became worse. Doctors told her she needed to stay in the hospital until the baby was born. A week later, things took a turn for the worse—she needed a Caesarean delivery immediately. "You're never prepared for being told that the situation is becoming dire," Craig says. Wilder was born nearly two months early and weighed just 4 pounds.
Once out of recovery, Azizah spent mornings at home with Dash and then would go to the hospital and hold Wilder all day. She and Craig took comfort in the fact that he was surrounded by an amazing team of nurses. "That was the only sort of consolation when he was in the NICU—knowing that how great the women were," Craig recalls. "It was the only way we could get any rest."
After a 49-day battle in the NICU, Wilder was finally able to go home. "To this day, they still can't tell me why I had my baby early, and I think that's just a question that sort of haunted me," Azizah says. "And March of Dimes is the organization that's continuing to look into answers to those questions. It's a special organization and we're just honored to have been a part of it for the last five years." Until the day comes when pregnancy and childbirth in the U.S. is safe for every mom and baby, March of Dimes will be in NICUs across the country, helping families like the Rowens.
WHY WE FIGHT FOR HEALTHY FAMILIES
Each year in the U.S., approximately 380,000 babies are born preterm.
Without equitable access to health care, we can’t ensure healthy pregnancy outcomes for families.
Vital services to help moms and babies be healthy and strong are needed more than ever.