Her mother, Sonia Smith, is now an Ambassador Mom for the March of Dimes. She appeared on Palmetto Mornings on WRHI to share how her daughter’s birth has influenced her work with the organization that focuses on improving the health of babies by preventing birth defects and prematurity.
In August of 2009, Smith gave birth to Alana. She was only 26 weeks into her pregnancy. Within less than 30 seconds of delivering her first child, her newborn baby girl stopped breathing and was immediately taken away for care.
“Often when you are a mom, you dream about that day when you’re surrounded by family, friends and taking pictures. That opportunity was ripped away from me,” Smith said.
When Smith was finally able to see her daughter, it was a difficult vision for her to accept.
“It was a very, very somber moment when I saw her. I pretty much blamed myself when I saw her. Her skin was paper thin, you could see her skeleton. She had so many tubes connected to her. It was unreal,” she said.
Fortunately, unlike most premature babies, Alana did not have any bleeding on her brain; allowing her to overcome some of the more serious issues related to prematurity.
She did, however, have two holes in her heart.
“One they were able to close with medication and the other one is so large that she’ll have to have that surgically repaired when she is large enough,” said Smith.
Though her heart can be repaired a little later in life, there are other defects that require immediate attention. Her eyesight is currently being followed by a specialist because she has tissue missing on her retina.
During her first year of life, Alana experienced challenges with growth and development. She had trouble performing many things that full-term babies of her age could. Through physical therapy, she has caught up with her age group both physically and mentally.
“Developmental wise, she is exactly where she needs to be and in some instances, in terms of speech and some gross motor skills, she is a little ahead of some 2-year-olds,” Smith said.
Smith was not discouraged by her daughter’s prematurity. She expanded her role as a mother and has also given birth to twin girls who are now 8-months-old.
Because of her first hand experiences, Smith encourages everyone to contribute to the March of Dimes. The foundation’s efforts are responsible for many research breakthroughs, saving thousands of babies.
The March of Dimes Walk for Rock Hill is scheduled for Saturday, April 28 at Cherry Park. To learn how you can participate or to listen to Sonia Smith’s story, click here.