Rachel Ammer couldn’t hold her twins for the first few weeks of their life, but that wasn’t the most frightening part.
“The scariest part was the apnea,” said Ammer, a Garnerville resident. “They would forget to breathe and the alarms would go off, signaling the nurses to tap their little feet to remind them to breathe. No matter how many times you heard those alarms, your heart would stop every time it went off. You know that they would breathe again shortly, but you felt as if you couldn’t take another breath until they did.”
Ammer’s twins, Isabella and Jacob, were born at just 29 weeks, with Isabella weighing 11 pounds, 15 ounces and Jacob weighing three pounds, six ounces. That was back in 2007, and after about six weeks in the hospital, Jacob was allowed to go home, while Isabella ended up going home after about 10 weeks in the hospital.
“We are extremely lucky that our children have no lasting effects of their prematurity,” Ammer said. “We owe a lot to their wonderful doctors and nurses, and espcially to the March of Dimes, because without all their research, we would not be standing here today as the proud parents of two healthy 5-year-olds.”
Ammer told the story of her twins Sunday at Blue Hill Plaza in Pearl River, where more than 500 people came out to participate in the March For Dimes March For Babies. Sunday was the seventh year the walk has taken place at Blue Hill, and it’s gone on for more than 25 years in Rockland, according to Sharon Masciovecchio, development director for March of Dimes. The goal for Sunday was to raise $99,000.
Participants in the event ranged from those who had prematurely born babies to relatives of prematurely born babies to friends and supporters. Shari and Art Ferraris, of New City, participated in Sunday’s event because their second daughter was born at 27 weeks, weighing one pound, 12 ounces. They walked with their older daughter, Alexandra, 7. The Ferraris second child was born last year.
“Right now she’s six months and doing wonderful, no problems” Shari Ferraris said. “I’m just marching because of babies like her and other babies that need help and support.”
, 9, who was born at just 24 weeks, weighing one pound, nine ounces.
“If you saw him today you would never know that he was a premature baby and a lot of that is attributed to this walk and the research that’s been done by the March of Dimes and the funds that are raised through this walk and the other fundraisers that go on on all year,” Moynihan said. “That’s why this walk is so important.”
This was the ninth year they’ve participated in the event, which Moynihan said is important not only because of the funds it raises.
“The other really important thing is the education of young women so that they are aware of the signs to look for premature birth because it really truly can happen to anyone,” Moynihan said. “It doesn’t recognize age or race or color. The healthier the women are when they’re having babies, the more chances they have of having healthier babies, and that’s one of the reasons that this is so important to us, because we would love if every premature baby had the chance like James had, that they too could one day come home with their families. A lot of families are not that lucky. We happened to be very very lucky, and that’s all attributed to March of Dimes and what’s done at this walk every year.”