Six years ago today was a day I will always remember. It was the day we finally got to bring Payton home from the hospital. Three months earlier, we weren’t sure if that would ever happen. She was born just shy of 24 weeks gestation, which is extremely early. Her doctors told us her chances of surviving were pretty low, and we should be ready for the worst. The early days were the hardest. We didn’t know what to expect as we watched our 1 lb 12 oz baby fight for her life. We hoped for the best, yet the thought of losing her was always in the back of our minds. I dreaded hearing my phone ring when I was at work, away from my wife and little one.
Payton pulled through those first few weeks, and we began to relax. For a baby born as early as she was, she had relatively few problems. We stopped fearing the worst and focused on the future. We celebrated every milestone. I don’t know many other couples who can say they remember the day their baby reached 2 lbs. We do. We have an adorable drawing from one of the nurses to commemorate it. Each pound excited us, but none as much as the fifth pound. That meant she was almost ready to go home.
The day finally came. We were excited, yet extremely nervous to bring our tiny fragile little baby home. We knew what we had to do since the nurses practically trained us to be extra careful parents for our extra fragile baby, but this would be the first time Payton wouldn’t be seconds away from professional medical help. Regardless, it was such a special day.
Every baby should have this day, the day their parents bring them home to the special room their parents set up for them. The day when they make their parents freak out because they won’t stop crying, or haven’t gone number two enough times, or their temperature raises just a hair too high. Every baby deserves that.
That day, for us, did not come without a price tag. We joke that Payton is our million dollar baby. Her hospital stay costed a fortune, a fortune we didn’t have, and luckily, we didn’t have to pay. We were fortunate that I had just started a great job, and our health insurance kicked in immediately. We were even more fortunate that the state of Wisconsin has Badger Care, which Payton qualified for since she was a preemie. Badger Care paid everything my own health insurance did not. Many people, especially now days, don’t have health insurance, and most states don’t have a government funded program like Badger Care. The amazing part is, even though Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals realize that many families won’t be able to foot the gigantic bill, they still provide their services to the babies and kids that need help.
When I heard about Extra Life, I knew it was something I wanted to support. It’s such a simple and fun way for me to give back to the doctors, nurses, and staff that made October 15th a day to celebrate for my family. I’ve wanted to participate the past two years, but it hasn’t worked out for various reasons. I was so happy when I realized I’d be able to join this year. Since taking on the Community Manager role here at Co-Optimus, I figured I should be the one to motivate the community and staff, and to organize our own team. I’m so happy that we were able to pull a team together, a team that has raised $633 so far. We’re not done, we still need more donations. Preemies and sick children need your donations. Our goal with Extra Life, is to make sure Children’s Hospitals can continue giving babies and sick children their day to go home healthy. Because they deserve it.
This is why I’m an Extra Lifer.