mod beckett fogliano 1PHOTO: Beckett Fogliano, of Atlantic Highlands, was born two months early.

SAYREVILLE, NJ – Samantha and Michael Fogliano of Atlantic Highlands, NJ learned the hard way just how strong their family could be when their son Beckett was born premature, arriving two months early.

Samantha was due with her son on June 1, 2013. However late one night in March, after what was going along as an easy pregnancy, she experienced back pain so severe it woke her up. Her husband took her to the hospital where the doctor told her she was in pre-term labor. After a week in the hospital, her doctor sent her home on bed rest.

On March 21, during one of her following visits to the hospital, the nurses noticed the baby’s heart rate was dropping. Since the baby was breach and Samantha was also still dilating, the doctor told her she had to have an emergency C-section. So at 29 weeks, Beckett Michael was born at three pounds, nine ounces.

Beckett was taken immediately to the NICU. Samantha wasn’t able to meet her son until the next day and she wasn’t able to hold him until four days later when she had to leave the hospital to go home.

Beckett was in the NICU for two full months. Samantha spent every day in the NICU and Michael came every night after work. They felt like parents who were not parents - one of the hardest parts of their NICU journey was leaving Beckett at night. They came home to their New Jersey apartment each night without their son; their son was in New York City being cared for by someone else. With the help of the NICU staff, they gained the strength and confidence to take care of their very small and delicate baby when he was finally able to come home.

mod beckett fogliano 2PHOTO: Samantha, Michael and Beckett Fogliano of Atlantic Highlands

“After leaving the NICU I learned a few things. Life with a preemie is going to be interesting; the extra doctor appointments, the second-guessing of when he should be crawling or walking, has he caught up yet? The long explanation of how old my son is…well, he’s 4 months but was born 2 months early. Eventually it gets better but it’s a lot especially with your first baby. I also learned my family is strong. My son is the strongest little guy I know…these preemie babies are strong, they are fighters and we can all learn a lot from them. My husband is strong; he’s protecting me when he’s just as scared as I am,” said Samantha.

Today Beckett is happy three year old who just started preschool this fall. The Foglianos now volunteer with the March of Dimes to raise funds to give every baby a healthy start, and to support other families like theirs.

Every year, about 450,000 babies are born too soon in the United States. After rising by 36 percent over 25 years (1981-2006), our country's preterm birth rate has declined by 11 percent over the last 7 years. However, the U.S. preterm birth rate remains too high at 11.4 percent, which is higher than that of most developed nations.

Premature birth costs society more than $26 billion a year and takes a high toll on families. Babies born just a few weeks early are at risk of severe health problems and lifelong disabilities. Premature birth is the number 1 killer of newborns.

November is Prematurity Awareness Month, when the March of Dimes focuses the nation’s attention on premature birth. November 17 marks World Prematurity Day, and the March of Dimes and partner organizations worldwide ask everyone to help spread the word on the serious problem of premature birth.

mod beckett fogliano 3“Looking at Beckett now you would never know about his incredible journey and how far he has come,” said Samantha.