(WTNH) — Tiny but mighty, Jacee fought for his life for 145 long days.
“At 27 weeks gestation, I had Jacee at one pound and six ounces,” said Jacee’s mom, Karissa Watkins. “We were in the NICU for five months.”
It was during that harrowing stay at Yale New Haven Hospital, Karissa and her husband James were introduced to March of Dimes.
“March of Dimes, we’re here because we believe every family deserves the best start,” said Jill Haymes of the March of Dimes.
Since 2017, when Jacee made his early arrival, the Watkins has joined the organization in championing the health of all moms and all babies.
“You are not alone. Advocate for yourself. Advocate for your child. And if you feel like it’s getting too hard, seek help,” said Karissa.
A beacon of hope, Karissa and James are the 2021 Connecticut March for Babies Ambassador Family. Pandemic or not, the goal remains the same: help families. Karissa also has a strong passion for “helping to further support research for African American moms and their babies.”
“Pre-term birth continues to rise for the fifth year in a row in the U.S., and the statistics are worse for women of color.” Haymes goes on to say women of color are “50% more likely to have a pre-term birth and their children are 130% more likely to experience infant death.”
Thankfully, Jacee is thriving today. But even so, Karissa is working to change those staggering numbers by “telling my story and encouraging others.”
It seems the warrior mentality runs in the family.
“I’m very appreciative of this honor of being the Wednesday Warrior, but, I’m not the warrior. I actually gave birth to my warrior. The warrior is Jacee.”
If you would like to donate, visit marchforbabies.org.