(KUTV) Approximately 1 out of every 10 babies born in the United States is premature. The unexpected circumstances of having a premature baby can be overwhelming for a new parent. Despite the many challenges, one family chooses to embrace the good moments.
Gary Merrill and his wife Christina’s first experience having a premature baby was with their first daughter, Delilah.
“My oldest daughter, Delilah, she was almost 25 weeks, weight just a pound, and was born kicking and fighting for her life,” says Gary.
A few years later, they got pregnant with baby number two. With help from the March of Dimes, Evan, who is now 10-years-old, was able to benefit from a research study to see if progesterone might help prolong pregnancy.
“We had that opportunity because of our little girl, Delilah,” says Gary.
When Violet came along, that research had become common medical practice for pregnant women with possible risk factors of premature birth.
“She is now six. She got to be the benefactor of her brother’s research,” says Gary.
Having a preemie is a curveball parents don’t anticipate. Gary says it’s important for parents, who find themselves in the NICU, to live in the moment and cherish the small wins.
“For my daughter, Delilah – she never made it out of the hospital, and I look back on the moments I got to hold her and the fact the I got to have her in my arms when she passed away,” says Gary.
While he could focus on the hard days in the hospital with his children – Gary says, that’s not their story.
“Their story is climbing trees and doing gymnastics and cartwheels through the grass and the moments we fought for,” says Gary.