One Mother’s Journey…
My mother’s first daughter was still-born. My mother’s second daughter was 3 months premature, weighing in at a mere 1 ½ pounds. Then there was me -- 2 months premature, weighing in at 3.8 pounds. I knew I would have a preemie. I started trying to see a specialist when having a baby was a mere thought – I wanted a head start on having a healthy pregnancy.
I was told that because I didn’t have a pregnancy history (i.e., previous still-births, miscarriages or premature births), that I just had to wait until I got pregnant. And then, after a year of trying, I got pregnant… I was the perfect pregnant patient… quit smoking cold turkey, took my prenatal vitamins, took extra folic acid, didn’t even have caffeine… ate healthier than I did during my healthiest times. The first set of tests showed an increased risk of Down Syndrome. I got very educated, very quickly. I opted out of an amniocentesis since it wouldn’t benefit the baby and just plug away at the pregnancy… doing my best to stay mentally and physically healthy. We picked the name Nicholas Anthony “Nico” and eight weeks before my due date (the day before my baby shower), preeclampsia sets in and he arrives through emergency C-section -- weighing in at a whopping 3 pounds, 14.6 ounces. He was perfect – perfectly healthy, just small. Our local hospital staff got an exception for us to stay locally. Because he was healthy, he didn’t need the special care of a big hospital… we stayed in the hospital for a week, waiting for him to gain enough weight to go home. The staff in Labor & Delivery had signs up that they were participating in the March for Babies walk. I had always heard of the March of Dimes, but never really knew what they did. At that point, I made a promise that I would walk every year that I could.
Fast forward a couple of years. We start planning baby #2. Again, I see the doctor before I get pregnant. He says to get pregnant and he will send me to a specialist right away because I had a history of prematurity now and the health insurance would cover it. Yippee! The specialists ordered fancy tests which determined that I have a condition in which my body does not process folic acid properly.
It’s great to know that we have a root to the problem! What a relief. Extra folic acid it is!!! At 15 weeks gestation, the specialists tell us they can tell us what we’re having. We’re dying to know whether we are having a girl or boy. But they see something and we can tell by the looks on their faces while reading the sonogram. The doctor returns and tells us we’re having a boy, but he has Spina Bifida. We are given an option of terminating the pregnancy, but we don’t even need to discuss it -- we are keeping this baby. I am dumbfounded as to how this can happen when we took all the right steps – well, Spina Bifida occurs within the first 28 days of pregnancy… so, by the time you even know you’re pregnant, it’s too late. The fancy test was just too late. After the initial shock of the news wears off, we opt to name him Jody Thorne Jr. “JoJo” and again, I do my best to stay mentally and physically healthy. The further we get into the pregnancy, the more tests reveal as far as his condition. Everything is planned out… the date they will do a scheduled C-section, the hospital, the surgeons, the specialists, insurance coverage. I had it down to a science. He was born 6 pounds, 1 ounce. The biggest baby on my side yet! He is yet another miracle baby!
My dedication to the March of Dimes is so that other families don’t have to go through these heart-wrenching stories. To feel as helpless as I did during pregnancy – because all you really want is a healthy child. It is because of the March of Dimes work and dedication that research is done so that these stories don’t have to be a statistic. They can reach out to society and to our lawmakers to fight for the rights of women and babies – of families, and make every story count. To ensure that health insurance companies are being proactive, and not just reactive, to the needs of our society. We have participated in each March for Babies since 2006… and began participating in the Bikers for Babies in 2010. Knowing that we CAN make a difference in our babies – our future – is the only reason I need to continue our journey. Please Join the Sannas at Bikers for Babies on October 7th 2012 at Maryland International Speedway.