March of Dimes ambassador family namedWalk May 18
Tenants Harbor — When identical twins John and Dexter Falla decided to make their entrance into the world seven weeks earlier than expected, mom and dad Kristin and Dan could not have been more grateful for the support March of Dimes had to offer.
"We just thought it was a routine thing," said Kristin, describing the events that occurred Jan. 19, 2013. The Fallas gave their midwife a call when Kristin began feeling a bit off, and a few hours later — with a team of 20 medical personnel around — their boys were born at Miles Memorial Hospital in Damariscotta.
The family was then transported via a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) team to Maine Medical Center in Portland, where the twins spent the next four weeks.
The boys had "sticky" lungs and needed to be monitored for their development, but were not diagnosed with any other type of developmental delays. Occupational therapists made routine visits to be sure all body parts were moving correctly.
"The equipment they offer is so state-of-the-art," said Kristin. She said one of the nurses even referred to an incubator as Porsche — at the cost of several hundred thousand. "Most people don't recognize what this new medical equipment costs," she added.
The Fallas said the support was amazing from an in-house social worker to parent support group meetings with others who could really comprehend what they were going through.
"It is an isolating experience living out of the NICU," said Kristin. "We thought we had it tough, but when we looked around we realized we had it easy compared to some of the other families there. Some of them had been there for months."
Dan slept in a recliner next to the boys in the NICU for the first three nights, then family friend Linda Bean opened up her home in Freeport for their use. "That was incredibly generous of her," said Dan.
Following the boys' stay at Maine Medical Center, they were transported to Pen Bay Medical Center for a stint to help with the feeding routine and keep their weight up, and to give Kristin and Dan some semblance of family life.
The Fallas recently attended a NICU reunion at the Children's Museum in Portland. NICU staff and other families get together and share moments. "It was nice to be able to give hugs and thanks to those who helped," said Kristin.
With premature deliveries, it is normally estimated that they will not be able to go home until their due dates. And then it takes about two years for preemies to get truly back on track. The Falla twins are doing extremely well after only a year.
"We feel pretty lucky that we haven't had any prolonged issues," said Kristin.
The Fallas have friends that have also had to utilize the benefits of the March of Dimes, so they got involved prior to their babies being premature. They participate with Team Theo in support of a couple that lost their little one.
"Honestly we couldn't have gotten through that without the support of friends and family here at home," said Kristin.
"We are grateful there is an organization like March of Dimes there to support people. At a time when you don't think you would ever need it. We want to try to help give back to help prevent others from going through this — from having premature babies," the couple said.
Thousands of families and business leaders will join together Sunday, May 18 in the March of Dimes annual March for Babies — the nation’s oldest walk fundraiser honoring babies born healthy and those who need help to survive and thrive.
The Fallas will be joined by Rockland March for Babies Chairwoman Kelly Woods for the area event, starting at Trackside Station. Woods, a mother and owner of the restaurant, took on the role to raise awareness and important funding to provide for babies who are born premature or with birth defects.
Registration begins at 8 a.m. with the 3-mile walk kicking off at 9 a.m. There also will be a bounce house, food, activities and more. Well-behaved leashed dogs are welcome. To register, visit marchforbabies.org.
Funds raised by March for Babies in Maine help support prenatal wellness programs, research grants, newborn intensive care unit (NICU) family support programs and advocacy efforts for stronger, healthier babies, according to a news release.
Premature birth is the most urgent infant health problem in the U.S. today. It affects nearly half a million babies each year, including 1,186 in Maine. This past November, the March of Dimes issued its annual Premature Birth Report Card — giving the nation a C and Maine the grade of A. The March of Dimes is committed to funding research to find the answers to problems that continue to threaten the lives and the health of babies.
Local sponsors for the May 18 walk are: Pen Bay Healthcare, Maritime Energy, Trackside Station. Courier Publications, LLC is the media sponsor.
The 2014 March for Babies is sponsored nationally by the March of Dimes number one corporate supporter Kmart, Macy’s, Famous Footwear, Cigna, Sanofi Pasteur, Mission Pharmacal, Actavis and United Airlines.
State sponsors include Hannaford, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center, Q97.9 Hit Music, Spectrum Medical Group, Central Maine Medical Center, Uncle Andy’s Digest, Sun Journal and Bon Ton.
Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at email@example.com.