On an average day in the United States...
- 10,926 babies are born 1,045 babies are born preterm (less than 37 completed weeks gestation)
- 874 babies are born low birth weight (less than 2,500 grams, or 5 1/2 pounds)
- 329 babies are born with a birth defect
- 174 babies are born very preterm (less than 32 completed weeks gestation)
- 153 babies are born very low birth weight (less than 1,500 grams, or 3 1/3 pounds)
- 64 babies die before reaching their first birthday
=> For more information on prematurity, please click on the March of Dimes logo on the top left-hand corner of this page. All proceeds will go directly to March of Dimes.
~ A CAUSE IMPORTANT TO EVAN AND ME ~
Evan and I have been on both sides of the statistics. We experienced loss and survival of a micro-preemie, of a child, all at once. With adequate medical care available, babies born as early as 24 weeks have every fighting chance. Continued research and improvement in medical treatment and technology can help increase the survival rates of these babies. With your help, we are one step closer to reaching that goal of leaving no baby behind.
Thank you in advance for taking the time to read our story and supporting an important cause dedicated to saving precious lives!
Rest in Peace our Guardian Angel! Jake Echaluse Zhang ~ 12.29.2018-12.31.2018
~ SEPTEMBER 2018 - We are expecting! ~
During the ultrasound, my doctor's jaw dropped; she looks at us and says "Congratulations, you're having TWINS!" Out of disbelief, Evan and I glanced at the ultrasound screen for confirmation, and much to our surprise were two sacs – Baby A and Baby B. Our babies would soon make their grand entrance in April 2019.
Every morning, I would eat two fried eggs for breakfast. For five straight days, I would crack a second egg with double yolks! I took this as a sign that my growing babies were going to be future egg lovers just like their Mommy :)
~ OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2018 ~
As Halloween and Thanksgiving rolled in, I experienced the usual symptoms of fatigue. Otherwise, there was nothing out of the ordinary. Evan and I were grateful and excited to welcome two babies. Right before Thanksgiving, we had an ultrasound appointment where we found out the gender of the twins. Evan and I were looking intently at the ultrasound screen to figure out the twin’s gender. As the ultrasound technician hovered over Baby A, Evan and I blurted out, "is that his..." and before we could finish our sentence, the ultrasound technician nodded her head in agreement, saying “Baby A is a boy and Baby B is a girl :)" Similar to my first pregnancy, we had already figured out the name of the twins. Soon as we found out their gender, we immediately started addressing each twin as Jake and Hannah.
We would soon be complete! Evan and I had always planned on a family with three healthy children with at least one of each gender. And while still outnumbered, there would finally be another man in the house with whom Evan could share a father-son relationship. Life at that moment in time was so perfect in a not-so-perfect world. Life was going as planned. So, we thought.
~ DECEMBER 2018 - Christmas Day ~
I got up from bed that morning, and something did not feel right. Something was off. Evan quickly rushed me to the ER. After further observations, my water broke. Baby A's sac membrane ruptured, which caused me to go into preterm labor. The twins were only 23 weeks and 6-days gestation. Our world turned upside down. We suddenly found ourselves in the middle of the not-so-perfect world. I was immediately injected with betamethasone to help speed up lung development in preterm fetuses. To give Jake and Hannah any fighting chance of survival once out of the womb, I would need to carry the twins for at least 48 hours from the time of injection.
On December 29, 2018, after 4-days of my steroid injection, Jake and Hannah were born at just 24 weeks and 4-days. The twins were micro-preemies - weighing less than 1 lb. 12 oz – Jake weighed 1 lb. 5 oz, Hannah weighed 1 lb. 4 oz. They had a long and rough road ahead of them, many challenges to face, and many uncertainties.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew that both babies would beat the odds. That they would face and defeat every obstacle heading their way. Unfortunately, it was not the case for our son Jake. He was in distress. No amount of medical intervention could help him any longer. After 1.5 days of welcoming Jake into our world, Evan and I made the most difficult decision in our life to let him go and be one with the Lord.
On the night of December 30, 2018, Evan and I watched the medical team as they disconnected every machine, device, monitor and removed every single line and tube that once helped keep Jake alive. We vowed to stay by his side until the very end.
In the early morning of December 31, 2018, Jake went with the Lord. I am grateful for having held Jake until his very last breath. Evan and I are comforted in having met Jake and knowing that he is at peace with the Lord. As for Hannah, we do not doubt that Jake watched and protected his twin sister every step of the way as she spent the first 4-months of her life in the NICU. Jake has been the best guardian angel for Hannah and is now a thriving, rumbunctious, and opinionated 2-years old toddler.