We are thrilled to welcome Gabrielle Soto, Store Manager of Alex and Ani Rochester, as a guest blogger this month. Gabrielle has a personal connection with March of Dimes®, the wonderful charity associated with our new Special Delivery bangle. Read on to learn how March of Dimes® helped her through her high risk pregnancy and premature birth of her twin girls, Gianna and Laela.
My husband, Lee and I found out at 12 weeks that we would be having twins. It was an exciting moment that lasted only a few seconds before the next shock of our lives! We were having monoamniotic/monochorionic twins and I was considered extreme high risk. After having an easy, textbook pregnancy and birth 3 ½ years prior, this came as quite a surprise. My OB-GYN explained that I had a 50/50 chance of making it to 20 weeks pregnant. I was referred to a maternal fetal medicine doctor and was told that going inpatient at viability was my best option. Their plan was to get me to that point, go inpatient, have daily tests, and schedule a C-section at 34 weeks. I would be having premature babies!
At 25 weeks, I moved into St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, CT and spent the next 7 ½ weeks there. I had 4 daily tests like clockwork. I was given surfactant to help mature the girls’ lungs to prepare them for premature birth. We did have some scary ups and downs along the way. Baby A, now Laela, only developed one lung in utero and we were unsure if she would survive.
On Monday, March 13, 2006, I went to have my ultrasound like every other Monday and I knew something was not quite right. My doctor looked at me and said, “Today is the day!” Laela had fluid around her heart and this is something that we should not wait on. Immediate anxiety set in knowing I did not make it to the original plan of 34 weeks. I had a feeling that no parent should ever experience, knowing that if Laela did not cry, she would not survive. I was rushed to the OR and prepped for birth.
At 3:50 PM, Gianna was born weighing 3 lbs., 9 oz. and at 3:51 PM, Laela was born weighing 3 lbs., 1 oz. My first sigh of relief was when she was crying harder and louder than her sister; a wonderful feeling! They had their ups and downs while in the NICU, Laela’s of course more trying than her sister due to her anatomy. Gianna spent 3 ½ weeks in the NICU coming home on April 11, 2006. Laela spent a little longer there. The struggle was getting her to breathe on her own. She spent 7 ½ weeks there and was able to come home and be reunited with her twin on May 4, 2006.
Many people told us that the first two years of a premature baby’s life are the most trying, which is exactly how it played out for us. In and out of the hospital and back and forth to the pediatrician and specialists proved that there was never a dull moment! I am forever grateful to the March of Dimes® for their support through my own experience and all they do for moms and babies. I know my girls are here today because the March of Dimes’® hard work. I am so excited to purchase the “Special Delivery” bangle to support the March of Dimes® and honor my girls who are certainly my special delivery. Thank you, March of Dimes®!