November 17th is World Prematurity Day, and this day is very special to us Hassenstab triplets. The three of us were born premature due to preeclampsia at 29 weeks and 1 day at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. Erin weighed 2 pounds 6 ounces, Cara was a micro-preemie at 1 pound 4 ounces, and Nicole weighed 2 pounds 1 ounce. After we were born Erin and Nicole stayed in the NICU for 54 days, and Cara stayed in the NICU for 66 days and came home on Christmas Eve!
Today, the NICU experience at the children’s hospital is very different than it was in 1999. The NICU now has completely private rooms, and parents can stay with their babies 24/7. According to our Mom, NICU life was like a roller coaster. Each of us had ups and downs, some expected and some unexpected. Even after we came home, we still had a long list of medical needs, including specialists, monitoring, medications, surgery, speech therapy, and occupational therapy.
Thanks to the excellent doctors, staff, and care at the University of Iowa we are now happy and healthy 20 year olds who are giving back to the hospital who gave us our chance at life. Dance Marathon does so much to support the Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, and supporting families with preemies like we were is one of the many reasons DM is so special to us. We see ourselves in these kiddos, and we joined DM to help support them, their families, and the hospital that cares for them.
The University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital gave us the chance to grow up and now we have the privilege to dance for and fight for premature kiddos just like us. Who knows, those kiddos may grow up to be a future Dance Marathon Assistant Director like Erin, Committee Member like Cara, or Morale Captain like Nicole.