AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - A 10-year-old Gruver girl is asking you to join her army as she works to help March of Dimes - the organization that helped save her life.
Abigail Elizabeth TeBeest was born February 15, 2008 at BSA Hospital. She weighed 2 lbs. and 13 oz.
Her parents, Amber and Jason TeBeest, considered Abigail a miracle from the very beginning after dealing with infertility issues for more than two years.
The pregnancy went smoothly at first. However, on Valentine's Day 2008, a routine check-up turned into a very scary situation.
Amber was diagnosed with eclampsia. She was 31 weeks pregnant.
"She came down to that checkup by herself," recalled Jason. "I remember getting a phone call saying I needed to come down immediately because she was going to be checked into the hospital for a little observation. We didn't know if that was going to be a day or overnight or what that was at the time, but it ended being in the hospital to have a baby."
That night doctors gave Amber a medication to help make Abigail's little lungs a little stronger - a medication made possible through March of Dimes funded research.
Less than 24 hours later, Abigail was on her way.
"It all happened relatively quick," said Jason. "They took her into the NICU almost immediately after she was born."
"When she arrived in the NICU, she had to be on a ventilator," added Amber. "She was given the surfactant, which is a huge blessing. That's something March of Dimes had a huge part in developing. What that medication does, is help with the development of the lungs and lets the baby know it's time to breathe. Because of that she was able to be winged off the ventilator and off of oxygen a lot sooner than babies had been in the past. I remember when I came home (from the hospital), a woman came up to me and she asked, 'Was she able to get the medication?' Her son had been born before FDA approval of the medication, and he is now legally blind."
Abigail remained in the NICU for nine weeks.
"It was very scary," said Amber. "She was so tiny and in an incubator. There were so many wires and so many cords."
"It's amazing how small they are and how they are still able to survive," added Jason. "She was strong and a fighter. We gained our weight day by day and week by week. Eventually, we met all the milestones to be able to come home."
Abigail is now 10 years old with two little brothers. Not only is she healthy as can be, she is now giving back to the organization that helped save her life.
This year will be Abigail's 7th March for Babies.
"Because without March for Babies, they might not be able to raise money for the equipment that helped me survive," said Abigail. "I think if we help March for Babies, it will help babies who are born premature or with problems. It will help them survive like I did."
March for Babies is a time to celebrate all babies and to remember those lost too soon.
"In the beginning, the walk was about being happy and seeing all the babies and celebrating the babies who were the same as her," said Amber. "Two years ago, when we were at the end of the walk she looked and she saw the 'Last Mile.' The 'Last Mile' has banners with angels for the children who didn't survive. She just kind of cried and she realized she could have been one of those babies. She questioned why she got to be healthy and why those babies were in heaven."
"The rest of the family went ahead because I was crying with my mom because I felt bad for the babies who didn't make it," explained Abigail. "But she said they were with Jesus and they would be okay and we did what we could to help them."
Abigail's giving heart extends not only to March of Dimes, but to the families who walk through their own grief.
"I do remember one of the walks there was a grandmother who was having a hard time because her grandbaby didn't make it," said Jason. "Abigail sat there and talked to her and prayed with her. The grandmother felt a lot better afterward and Abigail didn't know any different. That was just her heart and her spirit."
"She went and talked to the mom too," added Amber. "It made her realize that she is a mom and that her baby was in heaven and that no matter how long you are a mom or how long your baby was here with us, that your baby matters and your story matters and this is a day we get to honor and celebrate those children."
Abigail's Army is asking everyone to lace up their shoes and walk with them on April 28th so that one day all moms and babies have the chance to be healthy.
"We hope that one day all moms and babies will be healthy," said Amber. "We remember the babies we lost. And we celebrate every baby. Even if your baby wasn't premature, you can come and we celebrate the fact you were blessed with a healthy baby. We want to help raise money so there is more research done so there can be more healthy babies and they have their happy ending like we have our happy ending."
"March with us, because every baby deserves the best possible start," added Abigail.
This year's walk is taking place at Amarillo's Town Square Village. Registration begins at 9:00 a.m. followed by the walk at 10:00 a.m.
March of Dimes aims to raise $250,000 to continue their mission of making sure every baby is a healthy baby.