This year marks March of Dimes 75th year of improving the health of mothers and babies. In celebration, more than 7 million people in 900 communities across the country will walk in March for Babies events over the course of 2013 to raise awareness and funds to help moms have healthy, full-term pregnancies and give babies healthy lives. Among these dedicated 7 million walkers, you will find Woman You Should Know, Paulina Levine.
Paulina and her husband Josh, joined by their family and friends, make up Team Levine, March for Babies’ number one Family Team in New York City, and fourth in the nation for their incredible fundraising efforts, which have resulted in over $175,000 raised for the cause.
The Levines first became volunteers with the March of Dimes in 2007 when they put Team Levine together in memory of their twins, Chloe and Isabelle, who sadly passed away after being born premature at 26 weeks.
While Team Levine raises a lot of money, they also contribute something equally as valuable. By sharing her heartbreaking story as a March of Dimes Mission Ambassador Speaker, Paulina gives much needed hope to the women and families suffering after a pregnancy loss. “I want other women to know that there is hope, and light at the end of a very dark tunnel,” she shares.
On the afternoon of May 31, 2006, Paulina and Josh’s lives changed forever. Here’s their story in Paulina’s own words.
I went into premature labor at 26 weeks. After an emergency c-section, my baby girls, Chloe & Isabelle, weighing just a little over 1 pound each went right to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Both Chloe & Isabelle suffered pulmonary hemorrhages on their second day of life. Chloe’s body couldn’t handle the stress of the hemorrhage and she died that night. Isabelle survived only to face many other challenges in the NICU.
She had numerous blood transfusions, heart surgery at just 2 weeks old, infections, collapsed lungs, and bleeding and swelling in the brain. She fought for 34 days before her little 1 ½ pound body just couldn’t take it anymore. Our little Isabelle died on July 3, 2006. My husband Josh and I held both of our daughters as they took their last breath.
Once you spend time in a NICU, you are never the same – families are drained, relationships are tested, and as a mother, you question, “what did I do wrong?” The NICU is a devastating place for any parent watching their innocent newborn suffer and struggle for life. This is just not how life is supposed to start. Every baby deserves a chance to have their full 9 months; every baby has the right to be born healthy, and no parent should have to endure watching their newborn die in their arms.
Chloe and Isabelle are our angels and will forever live in our hearts. And, while they were only with us for a very short time, the impact they had on us will last a lifetime.
Today, we are the very fortunate and the proud parents of two beautiful children, Olivia and Julian (both born full-term and healthy). While we can never bring our babies back, we think the best way to honor their memory and give meaning to their lives is to dedicate ourselves to raising money for an organization that fights for babies and preventing premature births.