It’s been nearly three years now and it’s changed my life. It was unexpected – a bit of a shock when I first found out. Along the way, there were some scary and anxious moments. It’s because of what happened nearly three years ago I ask the question “Can travelers make a difference in the lives of babies?”
Spain, Portugal, and a life changing experience
“So this is a story about babies huh? What does this have to do with travel?” There is no way this story would have happened without travel.
It was September 2007 and my wife and I were getting ready to take off for three weeks in Spain and Portugal. We flew to Barcelona on our anniversary and started out on our three week journey through Barcelona, Madrid, La Coruna, Granada, Ronda, Sevilla, Salema, and Lisbon. I learned a lot about these places and myself (read my journal on backpacking through Spain and Portugal as I reflect on my trip).
However, it was on the bus ride from Sevilla to Salema that the signs first appeared. We had spent some time drinking wine, sangria, and other things on our trip. However, my wife got sick on the bus ride and felt like vomiting. Her stomach settled and we got through the rest of our trip. Yet there were signs on that trip the whole time that I never realized until later.
After coming home in mid October, life went on as normal. In January, my wife was planning a trip to Thailand with a group of women and was busy with meetings and the trip details. However, as November arrived the shocking news came – my wife was pregnant. Our first child was due June 15 (go back to when our trip to Spain started – you do the math).
Shocked by the news and flooded a variety of emotions, we prepared as best as we could for the arrival of our little boy. January came and my wife went on her trip to Thailand. Before she left, the news spread about her pregnancy and everyone on the trip was worried about her. The trip went well and she arrived home in time for the three month appointment at the doctor.
With the appointment, we found out that we were going to have a little boy. My wife went through all the normal blood work and we were on our way.
Not long after, my wife got a call from the doctor telling her that there was a higher than normal risk of our son being a downs syndrome child. She called to tell me the news. It was stunning. Downs syndrome kids are awesome children and are some of the best in the world at showing others how to love. However, it had already been a roller coaster ride the last few months and this wasn’t news we were expecting.
The only way to know for sure was to have an amniocentesis in which a needle would be inserted into the placenta to withdraw fluid for tests. There was also the small risk that the baby could die from this. We decided against it and prayed and hoped for the best.
On June 20, our son was born late on a Friday night. It was a long labor and delivery but he came out healthy and happy. There were no signs of downs syndrome at all.
Since that time, he has been one of the greatest joys in my life. He really is a kid that is loved by everyone who meets him. However, those few months leading up to his birth scared me. It made me realize that parents go through this every day. Our child was just at risk for downs syndrome. Other babies are born with much more severe complications and problems which require months of treatments, appointments, and care.
Every year thousands of babies are born premature. The cost to care for these babies and help them grow and develop is a huge burden on families. Research is needed to know how to provide the best care and help babies not only survive but thrive. Every year, March of Dimes hosts the March for Babies campaign where millions of people come together to raise money and support to take care of these premature babies. By raising money, this will cover the costs of care for these preemies without adding to the emotional burden parents are already dealing with.
It does make a difference.
Olivia and Sophia – why March for Babies matters
My son was born in June. A friend of mine from high school had twins in late May. They weren’t due until the end of August. When they were born, they weighed less than 2 lbs. They spent a couple of months in the NICU (neonatal ICU) as doctors and nurses worked to help these babies survive. Because of the efforts of the March for Babies, the research had been done to know how to care for these babies and the costs of their care were covered. Today they are healthy, happy, and active girls getting ready to celebrate their 3rd birthday.
It didn’t take this personal story for me to get involved. However, going through my own emotional struggles and then experiencing the birth of my child has changed my life.
I love being a dad. Quite honestly, I never knew if I was going to be one. However, the birth of my son was a surprise and it happened exactly the way it needed to happen. It started with a trip to Spain and Portugal. And now, I have 2 healthy and happy little boys and will be participating in my fourth March for Babies.
This story isn’t about me. This story is about how my life was changed by my kids and their stories. Forgive the cliche but babies are the most innocent, precious things on earth. And moms, dads, and babies need your help. So check out my March for Babies page above (or on the home page of Budget Travel Adventures) and donate, spread the word, or become a part of the March for Babies as well.
It was travel that gave my baby life. Now, travelers like yourself can help save the life of a baby.
Check out more ways to help other through travel in Travel Gives Back