DES MOINES, Iowa -- Fifteen million babies around the globe are born before their due dates. On World Prematurity Day, groups like The March of Dimes raise awareness and support for babies born early.
Hayley Nugent’s son Jack just couldn't wait the full nine months to meet his parents. Hayley says, "His due date was December 3rd, so he was not even supposed to be here."
Jack was born 15 weeks early and tipped the scale at just 1 pound 11 ounces. Hayley says, "He did amazingly well for being born that early. He was only on a ventilator for about a day."
He's been in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Blank Children's Hospital since birth, growing to six pounds and learning to eat from a bottle. Hayley says, "They call him a rock star, which is fun for us because we like to come in everyday and have the nurses say he's doing great."
Jack’s parents say it’s been important for them to share their story with other parents. Linda Carter is a nurse in Blank’s NICU, but one day a week she serves as a March of Dimes Family Support Specialist. She says, "It's just a time I don't have to be baby responsible. I'm just an extra set of ears, and can just celebrate with them, or help them if they're having a bad day.”
She’s the only one in the state of Iowa. She wears purple scrubs and gives out chocolate kisses when she serves in the Family Support Specialist role. She connects parents to March of Dimes resources. Families like the Nugents say it helps. "It's a calming factor to know you're not the only one that's going to have a premature baby. You're not the only one who has to go through ultrasounds and x-rays and feeding tubes and all of that kind of thing," says Hayley.
As for Jack, he should be heading home soon, and his parents say they’re ready for anything. Dad Matt Nugent says, "We get training before, so we're actually doing it in the correct way, and now we're professionals. We got it down."
The March of Dimes released its annual report card on premature births this month. Iowa got a “B,” up from a “C,” because of the state’s decrease in premature births.