The days following the birth of your baby are usually filled with happiness: greeting friends and family as they come to meet your little one for the first time, picture taking, picking out your baby’s take-home outfit and getting used to changing diapers and feeding time. But for Washington Redskins defenseman Stephen Bowen and his wife Tiffany, the days following the birth of their twins were very different.
Despite a healthy first pregnancy and being put on bed rest for the twins’ pregnancy, Tiffany went into labor at only 24 weeks. After an emergency cesarean section, Stephen and Tiffany welcomed twin boys Stephen and Skyler into their lives.
At birth, Stephen weighed only 1 pound, 6 ounces, and Skyler was only slightly bigger at 1 pound, 7.6 ounces. In the weeks that followed, Stephen underwent a successful heart surgery, but Skyler caught an intestinal infection, which ultimately took his life.
“That was just the worst day of my life. Just knowing I’m looking at my son opening his eyes and you see him drifting away in my arms. It was the last time I was ever going to see him. Ever,” Stephen said. “Everybody just thinks of babies being born healthy but nobody ever thinks about the different things that could go wrong during pregnancy. Just being part of that first hand, I just want to do whatever I can to help.”
Sadly, the Bowen’s story is too common. One in nine babies in the United States will be born prematurely. Like thousands of other families who have experienced both the greatest loss and triumph the NICU has to offer, Stephen and Tiffany will walk in March for Babies this spring to raise money for the March of Dimes mission to combat prematurity through research and education.
As March of Dimes celebrates its 75th anniversary, it will host March for Babies walks across the nation and in Puerto Rico. Locally, the March of Dimes uses proceeds from the event to support community grants as well as NICU family support projects.
Nationally, it funds research and advocacy that has led to new treatments for premature babies, vaccinations and newborn testing for metabolic disorders in every state. To find a walk near you and join the millions of people working towards stronger, healthier babies, visit www.MarchforBabies.org.