What I want all parents to know about delivering premature babies.

Something just didn’t feel right. My stomach churned, and the nausea set in as I realized the unimaginable: I was going into labor.

Nurses rushed to my hospital room as a flurry of chaos surrounded me. I tried to stay calm, but as I looked at my husband, the tears and sobs set in.

I glanced over at the wall where nurses had made a chain link, counting down the days to viability. Two little links left on the wall. Those two days would get me to 23 weeks, our goal for my failing body. But, we didn’t make it. At 22 weeks 5 days, I went into labor with our triplets.


Image courtesy of Stacey Skrysak.

We had been preparing for this moment for weeks. At 20 weeks gestation, my water broke with our first triplet, Abigail. I lay in my hospital bed, unable to sleep as I pondered what might happen in the coming hours. To our surprise, my children were content; the warm blanket of my body provided the comfort they needed to continue to grow.

As the long hours stretched into days, we began daily meetings with doctors, discussing our best and worst case scenarios. For each week that my pregnancy progressed, the better chance our triplets had of surviving.

We heard endless statistics and the challenges we faced if our children were born at 23, 24, 25 weeks of gestation. The doctors were practical, not sugarcoating the prognosis, but they still gave us a glimmer of hope.

While many hospitals won’t intervene until a baby reaches 23 or 24 weeks gestation, our hospital believed in giving our children a chance if possible. And that was the case on June 23, 2013, when I delivered my children at 22 weeks 6 days.

Our story is far from picture perfect. Our first triplet passed away within two hours of birth; our second triplet died just shy of two months old. Our surviving triplet spent nearly four months in the NICU, overcoming a mountain of hurdles, before finally coming home to begin her life.

The long, bumpy road is now a distant memory. Our 22-weeker is happy and healthy today. Peyton is our one-pound miracle, and according to her doctors, she is completely caught up developmentally at 3 years old.

We know she is the rarity. Our children were given a less than 10% chance of survival. If they survived, their chances of leading a healthy life with few complications were slim. Luckily, fate was on our side. Our doctors gave our children a chance at life. But, many families are not so lucky.

Over the years, I’ve heard from hundreds of parents of premature babies. Some share their miracle stories that mirror my daughter’s journey, but oftentimes I hear stories of lost hope.

I hear from parents wondering why my children were given a chance when their hospital only offered "comfort care," allowing the family to hold their baby as it died in their arms. Every time I hear those words, a little piece of my heart crumbles. Every time I think about a child not given a fighting chance, I look at my daughter Peyton. I imagine what life would be like if I had walked out of our hospital empty handed, always wondering what if? Even though two of my children eventually passed away, each one of them was given that fighting chance. However short their lives were, we created memories, and that’s only possible because our doctors stepped in with lifesaving measures.

There is no way my triplets would have survived without the intensive care they received. Babies born between 22 and 24 weeks are in a grey area, hovering between life and death. But research has shown that a baby this young can survive, and in rare cases like ours, the child can thrive.

Image courtesy of Stacey Skrysak.

So what can be done? I’m not asking all hospitals to lower their viability standards. Many hospitals are simply not equipped to treat babies that tiny or young. But, more can be done, and that starts with education.

No mother plans on having a premature baby, and oftentimes, the complications happen in an instant. We need to educate parents and let them know their options. In some cases, they can be transferred to other hospitals that can better treat the youngest babies. In other cases, it comes down to communication and a better understanding of the hospital’s policies.

June 23, 2013, and August 16, 2013, are the two worst days of my life. Those are the dates that two of my triplets died. But with the heartache comes happiness as I think of the memories I created in their short time here on Earth. Abby and Parker may have been tiny, but they are making a huge impact in so many lives around the world.

As for my miracle survivor, we know that Peyton could face struggles down the road due to her premature birth, but we’re ready and prepared. Peyton continues to climb mountains, conquering everything that comes her way. She is living proof that miracles do exist, and she’s the poster child for why even the youngest babies should be given that fighting chance at life.

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

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Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


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Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


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Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Of the millions of Americans breathing a sigh of relief with the ushering in of a new president, one man has a particularly personal and professional reason to exhale.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has spent a good portion of his long, respected career preparing for a pandemic, and unfortunately, the worst one in 100 years hit under the worst possible administration. As part of Trump's Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Fauci did what he could to advise the president and share information with the public, but it's been clear for months that the job was made infinitely more difficult than it should have been by anti-science forces within the administration.

To his credit, Dr. Fauci remained politically neutral through it all this past year, totally in keeping with his consistently non-partisan, apolitical approach to his job. Even when the president badmouthed him, blocked him from testifying before the House, and kept him away from press briefings, Fauci took the high road, always keeping his commentary focused on the virus and refusing to step into the political fray.

But that doesn't mean working under those conditions wasn't occasionally insulting, frequently embarrassing, and endlessly frustrating.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.