March for Babies: Mom remembers son being born 9 weeks earlyWhen looking at William, active and vibrant, one couldn’t tell that his life is the result of a miracle.
By: Jennifer Jungwirth, The Daily Republic
Six-year-old William Kreth loves trains, drawing and going on adventures outside with his dog, Jinxy. And his mom says his outgoing personality and huge heart makes it easy for him to find new friends.
When looking at William, active and vibrant, one couldn’t tell that his life is the result of a miracle. Born nine weeks too early, at 31 weeks and weighing two pounds, 13 ounces, the newborn had to fight for his life. “I never thought this could happen to me. I did everything right,” said William’s mom, Kate Kreth.
A complicated pregnancy form the get go, William was born during an emergency C-Section that lasted five minutes. Kate was not conscious during the birth and was unable to hear her son’s first cries. What followed was an agonizing month of waiting and hoping she could take her son home.
Kate, along with William and her husband Barclay, of Mitchell, have been chosen as the Ambassador Family for the Mitchell March for Babies, an annual walk held at the Corn Palace that raises awareness and funds for the March of Dimes South Dakota Chapter. Their journey is heartfelt and one that Valerie Willson, community director for the March of Dimes South Dakota Chapter said reinforces the organization’s mission.
Registration is at 9 a.m., with the walk beginning at 10 a.m. A silent auction and raffle will be held immediately after the closing ceremony at 11 a.m. Tickets can be bought and placed with items during the walk. Tickets are $1 each or $5 for eight. In addition to the walk, there will be inflatables and games for kids.
March of Dimes works toward improving the health of babies, preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality, Willson said.
The march has strong significance for the Kreth, who spent four weeks in the NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit) at Avera McKenan Hospital in Sioux Falls.
“I saw babies grow, I saw babies struggle, and unfortunately, I saw the unimaginable grief of losing a child,” Kate said. “This will forever be imprinted in my heart and soul.”
Kate began having contractions at 17 to 20 weeks; however, she was sick for most of the pregnancy. Then, three days before her son was born, she suffered from pre-eclampsia — a period of hypertension in pregnancy. Her hands got really tight and her blood pressure was high.
She was rushed by ambulance to Sioux Falls.
Not only was her son in danger, but Kate’s health was at risk, too. She suffered from chest pains and her blood pressure kept rising.
When William was born he had a good chance of survival, she said.
“He was a fighter from the very beginning,” said Kate of William. “They had him wrapped up and he was always kicking out of everything and pulling out his tubes.”
William remained on a C-Pap, a machine to help his breathing, for one day. He then began breathing on his own.
“I just remember them saying they were ‘cautiously optimistic,’” Kate said. “You were never given, ‘Everything would be OK.’ You just want them to say it.”
William returned home after four weeks, with an apnea monitor. Kate and her husband needed to check his temperature every three hours, feed him and monitor. Two to three times a week a nurse would monitor his body weight. That combined with additional doctors’ visits, created a very hectic first year for the Kreths.
“We really couldn’t take him out during cold and flu season. We really didn’t take him anywhere in that first year,” Kate said. “We would miss family Christmases because we didn’t want to take the chances of him getting sick.”
Often children with low birth rate have a higher risk of developmental delays, Kate said. But so far, William hasn’t shown any signs of problems.
Born at 11 inches, he’s tall for his age, in the 80th percentile for height.
“He gets sick easier and has bad allergies, but other than that we’ve been really lucky,” she said.
The March of Dimes was a large part of the Kreth’s survival during the month-long wait to take William home.
The March of Dimes is doing so much for families,” Kate said. “You have no idea how important (their) support becomes. They provide support groups and bravery beads, marking milestones babies meet developmentally and other support.”
Seventy-six percent of the money raised at the March for Babies today will stay in the state, where it benefits the NICU in Sioux Falls, Willson said.
The funds make a difference. It’s been proven, Willson said. South Dakota earned a B on the March of Dimes Premature Birth Rate report card in 2011, a raise from its D rating in 2010.
“Education has really aided the change,” Willson said. “We’ve been working with the Native American population and educating them about pregnancy and health practices.”
In addition, March of Dimes has been distributing material and health care resources to health care facilities and working toward free health care programs to promote on business websites.
“We want to improve the health of babies and families while keeping health care costs down,” Willson said.
Kate began advocating for the March of Dimes two years ago. Now a member of the Advisory Council for the NICU at Avera McKenan, Kate said she hopes others will step up and support the March of Dimes.
“Every child deserves a chance. Every family deserves support,” she said. “Everyone needs to know why this happens and this is why research is critical.
“It can happen to anyone. It happened to me.”