March for Babies at Commons Park at Harbor Point in Stamford on Sunday, May 3rd and help give Connecticut babies a strong and healthy start. You’ll walk with more than 800 of your friends and neighbors from lower Fairfield County and help more babies be born healthy. Don’t miss it – register ...More ►
On Sunday, May 3rd, hundreds from lower Fairfield County will gather for March for Babies at Commons Park at Harbor Point in Stamford to benefit the March of Dimes. Leading the festivities will be the event’s 2015 Ambassadors, Michael and Elizabeth Kitselman of Stamford, along with their 17 month-old daughter, Mackenzie. They will share their family’s prematurity journey, thank walkers for their commitment to the March of Dimes mission to give all babies a healthy start, and lead the walk with their team, “Kenzie’s Cause.” Since 2014, their March for Babies team has raised nearly $10,000.
In October 2013, Michael and Elizabeth were looking forward to the January birth of their daughter. But on Halloween, at just 30 weeks pregnant, Elizabeth delivered by emergency c-section due to a placental abruption. Mackenzie was born at Stamford Hospital and weighed just 3 lbs. 5 oz.
“The beginning was both difficult and isolating. It was hard to be discharged m the hospital without bringing our daughter home with us. In the NICU you learn not to take anything for granted and the smallest moments become the big moments that mean so much,” said Elizabeth.
Like many premature babies, Mackenzie’s lungs were underdeveloped and she received surfactant to help mature her tiny lungs. Babies with underdeveloped lungs may have respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) and struggle to breathe because their immature lungs do not produce enough surfactant, a protein that keeps small air sacs in the lungs from collapsing. March of Dimes grantees helped develop surfactant therapy, which was introduced in 1990. Since then, deaths from RDS have been reduced by half. Mackenzie remained in the neonatal intensive care unit for 35 days before coming home.
“Today we take each healthy day as a blessing. Currently Mackenzie receives physical therapy and speech for motor and speech delays,” said Elizabeth. “She loves to sing and dance, loves to climb on over and under anything she can and loves her touch and feel books.”
Each year in Connecticut nearly 40,000 babies in Connecticut are born. 1 in 10 babies are born too soon, and 1 in 7 infant deaths is attributed to a birth defect. The mission of the March of Dimes is to prevent birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality through research, education, advocacy and community programs.
“My relationship with the March of Dimes started the year before I gave birth to Mackenzie. As a teacher, I had a student in my class who was born at 24 weeks. I began to learn about prematurity through him and his family. When they invited me to walk with their March for Babies team, I was honored to join and learn more about the cause,” said Elizabeth. “Fast forward seven months and I gave birth to my daughter 10 weeks early. Prematurity had affected me firsthand, and I began to develop an understanding of what prematurity really meant. As my family and I learned how prematurity would change our lives, I realized how common it is, and how little people knew about it. If spreading awareness of the March of Dimes mission and sharing our story could educate even just one person, I’ll know we helped to make a difference.”