At 11 weeks, Hadley and Joel learned they were expecting twins. At 21 weeks, the twins underwent emergency surgery. At 27 weeks, Essie and Audrey Adcock were born. By the numbers, the identical twin girls needed a miracle to survive.
Arriving 13 weeks early at Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, the girls weighed less than 4 pounds combined—Essie, 1 lb. 13 oz. and Audrey, 1 lb. 15 oz. When Hadley went for her 20-week scan, doctors discovered the twins had a condition called twin-to-twin transfusion. Essie was taking her fluids in and transferring them to Audrey, making Audrey grow and Essie stop growing. A laser was used to separate the flow of fluids. “The surgery almost always introduces pre-term labor, but without it, neither girl would have survived,” Hadley said.
“The doctors told us there was a ‘golden hour’ right after birth and if they make it past that hour, then they will probably be OK,” Hadley said. “As a mother and a woman having a baby early, I felt very guilty. I wished so badly I could still be breathing for them as I watched them struggle on ventilators.”
The Adcock twins were at Kosair’s NICU for 60 days. On Christmas Eve, the girls were transferred to Owensboro Health for 30 days before going home. “Watching your child struggle to live is one of the most difficult things we will ever experience. Underdeveloped lungs were our biggest hurdle to overcome in NICU,” Hadley said. “The girls would stop breathing over 50 times a day.” Both girls came home January 29, 2014.
Now 16 months old, Essie and Audrey, along with their parents, are proudly serving as the 2015 Ambassador Family for the Daviess County March for Babies. “We love telling the twins’ story, so when we were asked to be the Ambassador Family, we didn’t hesitate saying ‘yes.’ March of Dimes aided in saving our girls’ lives. I think we owe them,” Hadley said with a smile.
According to Amy Nonweiler, division director for March of Dimes (“MOD”), their number one goal is to give all babies the opportunity to be born healthy. She works with the local NICU, particularly the neonatologist at Owensboro Health to assist NICU families. One of their main objectives is to educate expectant moms via prenatal classes at the hospital, along with an outreach on their website. MOD works directly with the Health Department and the hospital.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt founded the March of Dimes in 1938, with the goal of eradicating polio. They collected enough dimes “to change the world forever,” Amy said. “It’s amazing what a dime can do.” That was just the beginning. “In the decades to follow, we helped to stamp out rubella, pushed for regionalized newborn intensive care, funded the development of surfactant therapy and other lifesaving treatments, promoted folic acid to prevent neural tube defects, and brought newborn screening to every baby,” according to their website.
Teams are forming now for the local walk; February–April is the campaign season for March for Babies, an annual spring event, which will be Saturday, April 25. “Our goal this year is to raise more than $100,000, which we have raised the past several years, so we want to break that mark this year,” Amy said.
You may register as an individual, as a family or corporate team. Each team creates their own personal theme to make it more fun. For example, last year the hospital’s team slogan was “Bringing it Close to Home,” so they used a baseball theme. Kennedy Thompson’s family (the 2014 Ambassador) designed pink T-shirts with “Strides for Kennedy” as their theme. Plaques are given for the best March for Babies T-shirt design and the best stroller/wagon/wheelchair decorations.
The community is a critical component of the Walk for Babies. In addition to family, company and individual walking teams, an abundance of volunteer opportunities are available. Community donors provide food, music and activities (bounce house, face painting, twisted balloons, etc.). “More money can go to the mission [because of the volunteer support], and that’s our goal,” Amy said. After the walk, a sack lunch is provided.
Opening ceremonies include a Zumba workout and stretch—and breakfast at 9 a.m. for all walkers. Rolling Pin donates doughnuts and Grandy’s brings breakfast sandwiches. Over 600 walkers participated last year, and Amy hopes to surpass that number this year. Individuals can register as late as the morning of the walk. “Helping our babies is very important to our community, to everyone,” Amy said. Registration/check-in begins at Smothers Park around 9:30 a.m., with opening ceremonies at 10:30 a.m. and the walk at 11 a.m. The event concludes at 1 p.m.
Although research centers may be located across the nation, the benefits of research reach well beyond state lines. March of Dimes reaches out to help educate moms in pre-pregnancy, during pregnancy and post-pregnancy (NICU family support). They cover the whole spectrum. “I’d like to reach all moms, all babies and educate them about the resources available to them,” Amy said. On an average week in Kentucky, 1 in 7 babies is born pre-term.
The Adcocks will share their story within the community, go to companies to garner support, speak at the March for Babies and be featured on local billboards. “Here is a family that benefitted from the work of the March of Dimes,” Amy said. They, too, will form a family team and encourage their family to rally around them. Having a local ambassador personalizes the fundraising effort.
Fred May of U.S. Bank is this year’s chairperson; the bank raises $30,000-$40,000 each year locally. “They know the importance of the March of Dimes and really give a lot of focus to our mission,” Amy said. Joel is actually an employee of U.S. Bank.
“U.S. Bank is passionate about the health and wellness of our employees and customers and supporting healthier moms and babies is an extension of who we are,” Fred said. “We are proud of our partnership with March of Dimes and thankful for the research and advocacy the organization is able to provide our communities and beyond.”
To start a team and join the march, you can visit the March of Dimes website at marchforbabies.com.