Marching for support

Mark and Mikayla Austin pose with their three-year-old daughter Alexcia, or as she calls herself, Princess Fiona. Mark and Mikayala are this year’s March of Dimes ambassador family. The couple lost their twins in 2009 after they were born premature. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Mark and Mikayla Austin pose with their three-year-old daughter Alexcia, or as she calls herself, Princess Fiona. Mark and Mikayala are this year’s March of Dimes ambassador family. The couple lost their twins in 2009 after they were born premature. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Mark and Mikayla Austin are ready to share a tragic story.

The couple, who lives in Austin, lost their twins after Mikayla prematurely gave birth in December 2009, five months before her due date.

The couple received a lot of help during the experience, part of the reason why the Austins are this year’s ambassadors for the annual March of Dimes March of Babies.

A picture of Mark and Mikayla Austin’s twins sits on the TV stand in their home. Born in 2009, the twins passed because they were born premature.  Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

A picture of Mark and Mikayla Austin’s twins sits on the TV stand in their home. Born in 2009, the twins passed because they were born premature. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

“With just the support that everyone was giving us, we thought that maybe we could give that support back,” Mikayla said.

The Austins didn’t know much about the March of Dimes or its cause to help families dealing with prematurely born babies before they lost their twins, Noah and Isabelle. Mark and Mikayla had gone in for a checkup with their doctor in December 2009 when medical staff found an infection inside Mikayla.

Doctors rushed to induce Mikayla, who would give birth to the twins. But Noah, born weighing just 13 ounces and Isabelle 15 ounces, didn’t make it home.

Though the Austins suffered a tragic ending to that pregnancy, they received a lot of support from their friends, family and the community.

That’s why, when Mikayla read about the 2010 March for Babies in the newspaper the night before the walk, she made a spur-of-the-moment decision.

“I just called my sister and said, ‘Hey, do you want to do this tomorrow morning?’” Mikayla said.

From there, the Austins’ participation grew to include extended family and friends.

Mark and Mikayla are happy to share their experiences with others, as they’re unique ambassadors to the Austin/Albert Lea March for Babies. More often than not, ambassadors share positive stories of how their loved ones survived a premature birth.

“We’re kind of in the other realm of it, where you don’t hear about it a lot,” Mikayla said. “For us to share our story, we want to kind of reach out to somebody who’s going through it too and offer maybe a little support and help.”

The Austin/Albert Lea March for Babies takes place at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 12, starting at the Holiday Inn in Austin. Registration begins at 8 a.m. To sign up, visit www.marchforbabies.org.

The Austins will march once again this year, and likely give a speech during the event. They’re happy to spread the word about the need for funding to research premature birth.

“Ten years ago, you wouldn’t hear about this,” Mark said.

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