When Allison Hulbert-Bruce volunteered to help out with the local chapter of the March of Dimes a few years ago, she never imagined how personal that experience would become to her.It was 2004 when a friend asked her if she would like to join the March of Dimes' regional committee. With no children of her own, Hulbert-Bruce thought it would be a great opportunity to offer her services to a worthy cause.Shortly after getting involved, she became pregnant, and she and her husband, David Bruce, soon learned they were expecting twins."It was scary," she said of the experience. "I had only recently learned (through her contact with March of Dimes) the statistics about premature deliveries in regards to twins."Giving birth prematurely is common among twins," she added. "Just becoming a member of the committee and now aware of those statistics, it was frightening."
She had a routine pregnancy and stayed on the job at Hulbert Brothers in Plattsburgh through the first 31 weeks. But during a routine exam in her 32nd week, her doctor discovered she was dilated and having mild contractions.Taking a proactive approach, her doctor put her on serfactin therapy, utilizing a protein that promotes the development of the lungs, in case delivery was close at hand."It's interesting because March of Dimes helped with funding and research of serfactin," she said. "Through the efforts of March of Dimes, many pregnant women have benefited from serfactin therapy."Doctors also gave Hulbert-Bruce medications to slow her contractions, but that was not effective, and they decided to transfer her to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, where a neonatal intensive-care unit is available for premature babies.The contractions were stabilized at Fletcher Allen, and she returned to CVPH Medical Center eight days later. She remained in the hospital for the next three weeks so doctors could monitor her pregnancy closely.
Her babies, Abigail and Ethan, were born Sept. 29, 2004, one month prematurely, at 4 pounds, 6 ounces and 5 pounds, 6 ounces.Both mom and the twins made it through through the delivery without a hitch and went home just a couple of days after their birth."They were very healthy from the start," Hulbert-Bruce said. "They had to be on oxygen for about half a day, but they were healthy little babies."Since then, she and her husband have devoted their time to being the best parents they can be.
Hulbert-Bruce has also remained dedicated to the March of Dimes and its cause."One in eight babies is born prematurely," she said. "That number is on the rise, and not just for women carrying twins."Why, we don't really know. Improper care during pregnancy? Smoking? Drug use? We know those things put women at high risk, but we don't know why some women (in those categories) deliver prematurely and some don't."That is one area the March of Dimes is spending a lot of time and effort on, she noted."If we can identify what is causing the increase, then we can begin to look at what to do to prevent it."
In the meantime, March of Dimes continues to offer its support for families with premature deliveries."I don't think a lot of people realize how much March of Dimes touches so many lives," Hulbert-Bruce said. 'Whether it is folic acid (recommended by March of Dimes as a natural vitamin that promotes healthy pregnancies), serfactin or other research, March of Dimes has done so much to play a role in keeping babies healthy."Premature deliveries also put a heavy burden on health care and on business in general. Hulbert-Bruce estimates that her delivery, covered by health insurance, cost around $100,000, but it also put an extra burden on Hulbert Brothers, where replacements were needed to cover for her during the weeks before and after the delivery.The annual March of Dimes Walk America will be held later this month, and its focus will be on a celebration of preemies.