Born Too Soon

By: Kimberly Price Email
By: Kimberly Price Email

The parents you are about to read about are like so many others out there. They had carefully planned out their family: how many kids they would have and when they would get pregnant.

However, never in their worst nightmares could they have seen what was coming; a frightening and heart-breaking cycle that would change their lives forever.

A Living Nightmare
D.J. and Arienne Vanas are blessed. They have two beautiful daughters who fill their home with laughter. But the road to get here has been an emotional ride.

Their first child, Gabrielle, was born five weeks early, but healthy. And there was no indication Arienne would be at risk for future pre-term labor.

So, when they became pregnant with their second child, a boy they would name Kieran, everything seemed perfect. But soon, their dream of a growing family was about to turn into a nightmare.

At just 26 weeks into her pregnancy, Arienne suddenly felt excruciating pain. "Within an hour I was in full blown labor and had to be rushed into an emergency c-section," says Arienne.

Kieran was just two-and-half pounds at birth, wasn't breathing and had to be resuscitated. He also developed a lung infection and severe bleeding on both sides of his brain. Doctors told the couple, Kieran would likely not survive.

"I have never felt so helpless in my life," says D.J.

Arienne also felt some guilt. "I did feel somehow I must have done something to cause this,” she says. “I was working out to much; maybe I did something to cause this."

Kieran died seven days later.

"I dropped to my knees, next to her, and we both held him,” D.J. said. “We just told him, we love you and it's ok, we're with you. And he passed in our arms.”

D.J. says nothing could have prepared him for this. "You don't just lose a child. You lose everything that that child would have been to you, and you would have been to that child."

The couple was devastated. At first, they put their hopes of trying to have another child on hold.

After two pre-term births, they were just too afraid of the outcome.

But then they realized, "We didn't feel our family was complete at that point," said Arienne.

So, when the Vanas' got pregnant for a third time, they immediately sought out a specialist.

"We see the patient frequently in the office, with monitoring of the cervical length, to make sure it isn't shortening, with an ultra sound almost on a weekly basis," Specialist Dr. Peter Bianco said.

Arienne was put on bed rest and medication to slow down labor.

But at 29 weeks, a tiny Isabella was born.

She faced similar obstacles as her brother had, but the results this time were vastly different.

"When we heard her cry, that was music to our ears, because we never go to hear Kieran cry," says D.J.

Bella spent six weeks in the hospital growing and getting stronger, until she could finally come home.

Today, the Vanas' say, their family is complete.

No one can say for sure why pre-term birth has been such an issue for them. But, doctors say, there wasn't anything Arienne did to cause it.

In fact, in about 40-percent of all cases of pre-term birth, doctors can not determine why it happened.

Knowing the signs of pre-term labor can make the difference. Here are some of the things to look out for:

*Contractions or cramps (more than five in one hour)

*Any fluid loss or spotting

*Sharp or prolonged pain in your stomach

*Acute or continuous vomiting

*Intense pelvic pressure

If you have any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

The rate of premature birth continues to increase. It can happen to anyone.

The group, Newborn Hope can help educate women and their families.

Contact them at (800) 466-8575 or log on to:

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