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Local families share their struggle with premature babies - KOAM TV 7

Local families share their struggle with premature babies

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Every year 15 million babies are born early and almost 1 million will die due to complications. November is Prematurity Awareness Month, a worldwide campaign to address the crisis.

“Kangaroo time” is what these new parents look forward to most, getting their babies out of the incubator for skin to skin contact. By now, most new parents would be resting at home with their newborns, but parents of premature babies juggle trips to the hospital with the stress of their child's health constantly changing.

“One day at a time we're making it over there every 3 hours for her feedings and trying to get rest as much as we can and manage everything else on top of it,” says Trevor Ridgway, father to baby Claire with Lucrisha Hicks.

“He lasted what 2 weeks on the honeymoon stage? And then he had his crash and then he just went down and now he’s coming back up. Our emotions are all over the place,” says Morgen Wulf, mother to baby Liam with Alex Lara.

Both couples gave birth earlier than expected due to preeclampsia, a complication that can be fatal for both a mother and baby. Now they see each other across the hall in the NICU and at the Ronald McDonald House.

“Our environment allows them to be close, within walking distance of a hospital and it really impacts their ability to be a family in making decisions with the doctor about their child,” says Annette Thurston, Executive Director of the Ronald McDonald House in Joplin.

For these new parents, it has given them a place to stay with all of the comforts of home.

“No mom wants to leave the hospital without her baby. And that was really, really comforting to be able to just come a couple parking lots away and know that she wasn't that far,” says Hicks.

Claire and Liam are far from the only babies spending the first months of life in a NICU. Premature birth is still the number 1 killer of newborns. Of the 80,000 babies that will be born in Missouri each year, 10,000 will be born too soon.

"98 percent of the families who stay with us experience a premature baby,” says Thurston.

Making the Ronald McDonald House a critical place.

“Those small comforts mean so much and that's what’s getting us stronger and that's what gets our baby stronger,” says Hicks.

During the month of November the March of Dimes focuses the nation's attention on premature birth. The organization funds research and speaks out for legislation to improve care for moms and babies.

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