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Posted: March 27, 2014 9:01 p.m.

Ella Kate helps kick off March of Babies

Photo by Darrell Everidge/

Kathryn Rider holds her daughter Ella Kate Rider, who is the 2014 Ambassador Baby for the March of Babies Walk being held May 10 in Conyers for Newton, Rockdale and Walton counties. Thursday's lunch held at the Mystic Grill Restaurant kicked off t...

Six-month-old Ella Kate Rider laughed and paid vigorous attention to everyone around her enjoying lunch and speeches about her journey and the care given at Newton Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit facilities.

Rider is the 2014 Ambassador Baby for the March of Babies Walk being held May 10 for Newton, Rockdale and Walton counties. Thursday’s lunch held at the Mystic Grill Restaurant kicked off the March of Babies, which will help raise funds for babies, such as Rider. The daughter of Kathryn and Casey Rider, she was delivered by Dr. James D. Harbin of Premier Obstetrics & Gynecology in NMC’s BirthCare Center at just 28 weeks and five days of gestation – roughly two months short of a full term. Ella Kate then spent the next 55 days being cared for in the NICU, going home Nov. 13.

“Our ideal birth plan consisted of a full term healthy baby, hearing a good strong cry once she was born, visitors coming and going so we could show our new baby off, going home as a family, along with many other things that are to be expected with a birth,” Kathryn Rider said in a press release. “Our plans changed drastically when I went into labor at 26 weeks. They were able to stop my contractions, I received steroid shots and then was sent home on bed rest. Two weeks later, I got an infection and I had to deliver.”

In the event a newborn is born prematurely such as Ella Kate or has a critical health condition, the BirthCare Center at Newton Medical Center is equipped with a Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. On average, 10 percent of all newborns need extra support after birth. Supporters said the NICU at Newton Medical Center has an experienced and compassionate team to provide the best infant care possible. Specially trained neonatologists, physician assistants, registered nurses, advanced practice nurses and respiratory therapists provide the comprehensive care that high-risk newborns need in a specialized environment.

“We will forever be grateful to the NICU at Newton Medical and Premier OBGYN for the amazing care that Ella and I received,” Kathryn Rider said. “We are extremely blessed to have such a healthy, happy baby now.”

For more than 75 years, moms and babies have benefited from March of Dimes research, education, vaccines and breakthroughs. In Georgia, one baby out of every eight is born too soon. In an average week in Georgia, 2,546 babies are born; 336 are born too soon; 237 are born weighing less than five and a half pounds; and 20 die before their first birthday.

March of Dimes raises money locally to help babies rin Newton County who are born too sick or too soon. March for Babies is the premier fundraising event for the March of Dimes. The money raised by March for Babies events supports research, education and community-based programs that help moms have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies. March of Dimes grantees conduct research to find answers to the problems that threaten the health of babies.

Anyone interested in creating a team for the Rockdale/Newton/Walton March for Babies may visit marchforbabies.org to sign up today. The local walk will be held Saturday, May 10 in Conyers at the Olde Town Pavilion. Registration starts at 8 a.m., and the Walk starts at 9 a.m.

“Even though our NICU journey is over, I am looking forward to raising money through March of Dimes to help families with babies just like Ella,” Kathryn Rider said. “The more awareness we can bring, the more miracles we will have. Ella is a true testament that miracles do happen, and we are so thankful that we get to love on that sweet miracle every single day.”

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