Dear mom or dad,

On one of my first trips to a NICU, there was a new preemie on the unit, with his parents watching over him. I watched them struggle over the next months with ups and downs. One day, I went up and he was gone. I asked what happened. The nurse smiled and said, “He got to go home for good!”

I might not be part of the patient care teams, but hearing the words, “they got to go home”, makes me work all the harder for you. We don’t know why prematurity happens, but it’s my job to discover those why’s, so that we can give parents like you an answer.

There are going to be struggles in the NICU – rough days and nights. But know you are not alone. When I’m in the lab and things are rough, I just say to myself “they got to go home”. YOU are my motivation. Not just on World Prematurity Day, but every day I walk through the door to my lab.  My job just isn’t about research, it’s to get you and your baby home for good, to get your baby to his or her first birthday and beyond, and to live a happy and healthy life.

Heather M Brockway, PhD

Like Heather, if you would like to write a letter of support to a family with a baby in the NICU, contact us at And learn about the March of Dimes Research Collaborative, consisting of over 100 scientists, physicians, faculty and staff working together to solve preterm birth.