March for Babies
April 12th, 2010

I’ve never been a big advocate of “causes.”  This is probably a failing on my part.  But for most of my life affinity to any specific cause felt worthwhile, but contrived.  I didn’t understand with particular clarity why this was, but I didn’t question it.  I continued to endorse those causes for which my support was solicited.  But my involvement was always based more on an effort to be a good Samaritan than on personal investment.

With time and the experience it provides, I’ve come to understand the source of my detachment: Youth. 

When we are young our wingspan is small.  We have been fewer places, encountered fewer people, and (happily) been touched by less pain and fewer tragedies.  As we walk down various paths in life our exposure – to joy, wisdom, folly, and pain – increases.  And all of these experiences come with a face attached.  It is that process which takes the abstract and intangible “cause” and makes it something highly personal to which we feel intimately connected.

I wrote several weeks ago about IEP’s rocky start in life, including his admission to the NICU immediately after his birth.  We were among the lucky in that he was full term and has suffered no long-term effects of his neonatal diagnoses.  But not all families are as fortunate.  In the time we spent at his bedside in the NICU we also had the opportunity to see babies whose start in life was much more tenuous; babies born three months early; babies hooked up to tubes and wires for weeks and months, instead of days; babies whose futures could be riddled with lingering health problems related to prematurity. 

Many of you know of Madeline Spohr, who died at seventeen months of age just over a year ago due to complications from prematurity.  I have followed her family’s arduous journey through grief and birth for many months now, and in the process have become aware of the March for Babies sponsored by the March of Dimes.  The March for Babies raises awareness and money to fight the causes of prematurity.

Between my own experience in the NICU, and the intimate details of the Spohr family’s pain conveyed by Madeline’s mother Heather, I have come to feel personally connected to the cause of prematurity specifically, and struggling children in general.  And so it was with both excitement and sadness that I jumped at the opportunity to participate in my local March of Dimes chapter’s March for Babies when a friend of mine suggested it.  It was with additional excitement and sadness that I registered as a part of Team Maddie to honor Madeline Spohr’s beautiful memory. 

Part of me misses the days when I didn’t understand – at a visceral, rather than academic level – how people come to be passionate about various causes.  We become passionate because we have felt pain.  And through our involvement we endeavor to spare others the very pain we have endured.  My experiences and pain pale in comparison to that of many others.  But it is enough to spur me into action.

In two weeks I will join many other parents who believe in this cause.  Some of these parents will march with their children.  Others won’t have that luxury.  I have pledged $300 toward this cause and am eager to see my pledge fulfilled.  To that end, I will personally donate two dollars for each comment left on this post.  If you would like to contribute an additional donation to my pledge, please e-mail me at tendollarthoughts  (at) gmail (dot) com and I will connect you with my donation page.

12 Responses to “March for Babies”

  1. Anne Says:

    Good for you. It’s one thing to silently understand why a “cause” exists, and quite another to commit yourself to it.

  2. TheKitchenWitch Says:

    What an inspiring thing you are doing. Like Anne says, it means so much more when you DO something. Good for you!

  3. Aidan Donnelley Rowley @ Ivy League Insecurities Says:

    Indeed there is a precarious bridge of pain between youth/naivete and adulthood/awareness. We all have our experiences, the struggles that shade our existential canvases, and inform what we come to care about. For me, this post rings true and serves as evidence of your thoughtfulness and goodness. I am happy and honored to leave my words here and to offer support to you and your wonderful cause.

  4. Alice Says:

    Having just brought my baby home from the NICU 4 days ago – this cause is very near to my heart. We’ll be walking out here too! Thanks for your support Gale!

  5. Bridget Says:

    Consider this my $2 bill… :) See you at the March!

  6. Kristen @ Motherese Says:

    I appreciate what you have to say here about the bittersweet gifts we receive when we become parents: not least of those is the ability to understand loss in an entirely new way. I salute your efforts to honor IEP’s experience as a newborn and the memory of baby Madeline. As the sister of a man born with spina bifida, I also know firsthand the critical importance of the March of Dimes efforts to protect our youngest. Few causes are dearer to my own heart.

    Thank you for what you’re doing, Gale.

  7. Jane Says:

    Such a noble cause and even more important because it is important to YOU. Thank you for bringing attention to such a vital organization for children.

  8. Jeanna Says:

    I am looking forward to the March for Babies. Now I need to get on the ball and start collecting donations myself.

  9. Eva Says:

    What a great – and important – cause to support, Gale. Thanks for letting us join in, in our small way.
    It’s so true, what you say about missing the time when you didn’t understand a cause on such a personal level. That’s a turning point you can never take back.

  10. Anna Says:

    Thanks for doing this Gale! I will never forget our daughter’s neonatalogist telling us that the use of surfactant to help strengthen the lungs of micro-preemies became the recommended practice after March of Dimes funded the research. I was so thankful in that moment for people like you that gave so that other babies could have a more successful start in life.

  11. Amber Says:

    Kristen suggested that I come over and read your words, Gale. My post today is about March of Dimes. Like you, I am intimately familiar with the NICU. I have 2 siblings who spent their first 6 weeks within its confines. Because of the funding that March of Dimes supports, my siblings are alive and quite healthy. I have volunteered to March of Dimes in the past and hope to do so again in the future. If the march is near my place of residence this year, I will be participating.

    Thank you, from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of my siblings, for doing this.

  12. Tweets that mention Ten Dollar Thoughts » Blog Archive » March for Babies -- Says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kristen @ Motherese. Kristen @ Motherese said: Gale of Ten Dollar Thoughts is Marching for Babies. You can support her and the March of Dimes: [...]