April Ziemer, Editor

I have heard people say big things often have small beginnings. I do not know if there is any other statement I could agree with more and I am reminded of this every year on World Prematurity Day.

Many people have probably not heard of the day, which this year fell on Wednesday, November 17, 2021. Preterm birth and its complications are the largest contributors to infant death in the United States and globally. On World Prematurity Day, the March of Dimes raises awareness of the global crisis of prematurity.

In 2007, my second child, Reagan Erin, was born at a whopping 1 lb. 3oz. It was one of the most trying and scariest times of my life. I made it through with the love of my family and support of our community.

I find it ironic that Thanksgiving falls shortly after Prematurity Day as I see Reagan’s birth to be a period of time in my life that I am most thankful for and I found this week’s paper to be a perfect time to share our story.

Reagan was due to enter the world on March 29, 2008. I went in for what I thought would be an average OB visit December 19, 2007. Shortly into my appointment it became very apparent something was wrong, and I was told I would need to head to United Hospital in St. Paul. I asked if I could go in a few days as I needed to get my Christmas shopping finished. I will never forget the Dr. responding by saying, “Nope. The ambulance is already on the way to get you.”

I had Preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, most often the liver and kidneys.

I was sent into instant panic mode. With the exception of one nurse who told me to prepare to lose my child, there were a team of very kind and caring staff members who shared very positive words with me while we waited. An ambulance had to be called in from farther out as it was a very snowy day and all local ambulances were already out helping others who had been in accidents.

Once an emergency vehicle arrived, I was comforted when one of the EMTs was an old classmate of mine, Joey Elkin. He was fantastic and kept me fairly calm as we reminisced and even had me laughing a few times.

I was hospitalized for 10 days before they delivered my miracle December 29, 2007. She was so small her cry sounded like a little kitten.

After her delivery, they moved me into a different section of the hospital and that evening to my surprise the nurse that came to care for me was another old Amery Class of ’95 pal, Jane Haugerud. In the following days she proved to be some of the best medicine I could have received.

Although she was perfect and without issues, she was extremely small, and Reagan was hospitalized for almost three full months. During that time, I suffered complications from a pulmonary embolism and shattered my ankle during a fall. Both of these times I was hospitalized away from my baby and unable to see her.

It was a period when I thought I was going to emotionally buckle. But, I realized during this time that the human capacity for burden is like bamboo-far more flexible than you’d ever believe at first glance.

The experience taught me how thankful I should be for the community of Amery. I was bombarded with prayers, offerings and sometimes when I needed it most, a simple smile in passing.

Joey Elkin and Jane Haugerud were just two of my classmates who offered support during the hard time and I will forever be proud and grateful to be an AHS ’95 graduate.

There is truly only one place for me that has always called me one of their own, and that is 54001. I have seen people in this community have differences in everything from politics to trails. But when push comes to shove, I have seen people even on the most opposite of sides, lend a helping hand to each other and I firmly believe that is what the upcoming season is all about.

Today Reagan is a sensitive and caring, almost 14-year-old. She is probably going to be annoyed with me about this column, but there is just something special about her. She sees the good in all people, she would give anyone the shirt off of her back and each holiday season she enjoys giving to charity (especially the neonatal unit at Children’s Hospital). I just have a feeling that this girl is going to leave a positive mark on this world and I challenge each of you to do the same.

I enjoy sharing my thoughts with you and look forward to readers sharing their thoughts in return.

Feel free to email me at editor@theameryfreepress.com, write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery WI. 54001 or I can be reached by phone at 715-268-8101

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