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    Introducing the Sussex County March for Babies Ambassador Family

    The Kimmel family of Sussex County supports the March of Dimes

    Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, April 01, 2013 —

    Jude Joaquin Kimmel

    Born May 24, 2011

    13 weeks too soon

    2 lbs 10 oz

    14 inches

    I often think about May 24, 2011. Like most mothers the day of your child's birth is unforgettable, a day filled with smiles, balloons, flowers and, of course, the beautiful baby! Our day was filled with confusion, fear, tears and only two hours with our precious two pound ten ounce, 27 week gestation baby boy, Jude. Jude's heart had stopped while inside of me, giving the doctor minutes to save him.  "Why… I don't understand" came flying from my mouth often during the surgery preparation (there would be no time for any form of typical birth.)  Finally in the midst of chaos, the doctor calmly looked at me, grabbed my hand and said, "because he is going to die if not." In that moment, my partner and I experienced a fear neither of us have ever known, but would soon become very familiar with.

    Jude was born at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford, Delaware. He was almost immediately taken to Christiana Hospital to be admitted to their NICU. The first few days were the hardest. Dan, my fiancé, went with Jude to Christiana while I impatiently healed for two days at our local hospital.  I remember walking into the NICU for the first time, so excited to finally see my sweet child's face in person for the first time! He was beautiful. He laid there helpless and covered in wires and tubes. For now, looking would have to be enough. Jude was much to fragile to hold and he didn't like to be touched. We would stare at our darling boy for another twelve days before we held him...twelve of the hardest days we have ever experienced. In that time, Jude would be on three different ventilators and have three new diagnoses. He was diagnosed with infants emphysema, chronic lung disease and  grade 4 brain bleed (caused from lack of oxygen at birth and his prematurity.) With all diagnoses we were told the same thing... that he may not be able to make it. It never got easy hearing those words, just like it never got easy telling them they were wrong.

    When Jude was 2 months old, he became very ill with a blood infection. This illness would be the last time a doctor ever told us, " your son may die."  As he laid lifeless for nearly two weeks, two things became very obvious to our family. Jude was a fighter and he would need more support if he was ever going to come home. So, Dan and I decided a tracheostomy was the best option for Jude, his development, and his very tired little lungs.

    It is at this point in Jude's story that it becomes our story… mine, Dan’s and our 5 year old daughter, Madison's.  Our lives would forever change on September 1, 2011 (two weeks after his due date).  After three months in Christiana Hospital’s NICU, Jude was transferred to A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children  where he would have his tracheostomy tube placed.  A tracheostomy is a tube placed in the throat that allows Jude to breath through his neck (with the help of a ventilator) rather then through his nose and mouth. At 5 month old , Jude also had a G-tube placed. The G-tube is a feeding tube placed in his stomach to ensure he gets the proper nutrition while his body heals. As a family we received extensive training in the care of our son. Our daughter learned how to become a protector and we learned how to be nurses.

    On January 9, 2012, over 230 days after being in the hospital, Jude came home. Dan and Madison waited at home while I road with Jude in the ambulance. As we were leaving the hospital, I sobbed, but not because I was sad. For the first time in Jude's life, I was crying because I was happy. It was time for our balloons and flowers and hugs!  On our two hour ride home I reflected on the past 8 months. I remembered the warmth of others, the hard conversations with doctors and the moments we missed had Jude been born on time. The thing I was most grateful for through was our entire experience was the March of Dimes. Jude was apart of a study during his stay in Christiana NICU. He also received treatments that are available thanks to the March of Dimes.  They provided us with warmth and expertise, two things a NICU parent desperately needs! They hosted dinners and workshops for fellow NICU parents to meet and connect, cry and console. It was at these dinners and workshops that I learned the most important thing a parent like myself can learn… to be an advocate for Jude, to fight as hard as I can for him!

    So I ask you to join our family and the March of Dimes at the Sussex County March for Babies! Help us thank the March of Dimes by fundraising and walking because every dollar and every step supports a family like ours!

    Kimmel Family, Sussex County Ambassador Family





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