[my first and only child may have had a small beginning, but she is living proof that miracles do happen and tiny babies can make a big difference]
By: Owl Be Sweatin’ Co-Owner, K.C. DeBra
Every year, over a half a million babies are born prematurely in the United States, and numbers continue to increase at an alarming rate. The March of Dimes’ organization continues to work extremely hard to find answers so that all babies can be healthy and have their full nine months.
Expected on November 2nd, 2010, Alya Marie DeBra instead decided to grace us with her presence on July 31st, three months too early. She weighed a surprising 2lbs, 3oz. Ayla may have had a little extra weight on her side, but she was extremely sick. Since she was about 10 weeks early, she could not breathe on her own, and immediately began to face many challenges caused by ‘leaky lungs’, an air bubble compressing her tiny heart (preventing her to pump oxygen to her blood), a heart defect, heart murmur, respiratory issues and reflux (just to name a few).
I recalled dreaming of the moment I would meet my first child, holding her in my arms right after birth and feeling that overwhelming sense of happiness and joy. Unfortunately, that’s not how it went. My world was turned upside down on July 11, 2010, just at 23 weeks, when I stepped into my laundry room coming home from a relaxing day with my husband at his parents’ pool. My amniotic sack ruptured, causing my water to break and for me to lose all my fluid.
After being transferred via ambulance from Bethesda North Hospital (Cincinnati) to Good Sam Hospital (Cincinnati), I was put on strict bed rest and lots of drugs to keep me pregnant. After nearly a month in the hospital, I contracted an infection and Ayla’s arm was crowning my cervix. It was time to get her out – emergency c-section.
For my husband Ryan and I, it would be over a month before we could hold and cuddle our beautiful little girl. And so the ride began – a roller-coaster we never expected to take.
Her first day of birth, we stood in the NICU by Ayla’s incubator and were told by the head neonatologist at Good Sam to prepare ourselves, that with Ayla’s health conditions she simple and statically could/would not survive. After seven operations (four chest tubes), several blood transfusions, heavy diuretics and lots of LOVE from everywhere, she pulled through the first week. She then managed to get through the second week, the first month (when we finally got to hold her!), the second month and we were happily surprised to hear Ayla Marie would be coming home on November 2nd.
After a several days in the NICU, Ayla went home with us. To us, she was still extremely fragile – she required in-house monitoring and oxygen assistance 24/7 for six months. We were able to go outside in May of 2011 and Ayla also had heart surgery a Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in December of 2011. Amazingly, Ayla has no long-term effects of her extremely premature birth.
Today, Ayla Marie is a vibrant, healthy 4-year-old with the energy of a firecracker. She loves to swim, do anything outdoors that requires getting filthy, use her imagination and play with all of her cousins!
I truly believe that the reason Ayla decided to brace us with her presence so early was to let people know that even the tiniest babies can make the biggest difference.
I also think this was a hidden blessing for me (I would have never thought while going through the process), but I have learned to be a voice for other mothers struggling though the same issues I did and I’m eager to talk to them, help them, support them in any way and provide them with a sounding board.
Thanks to God, the wonderful medial team at Good Sam Hospital and our support network of family, friends and complete strangers, Ayla is perfectly healthy. A true miracle, gift from above.
Now through June 1st, when you purchase any 2 (two), regular-priced items, you will received the limited edition March for Babies headband FREE. In addition, a portion of all headband sales will be donated back to the March of Dimes to ignite the fight to make babies stronger and healthier.
To recieve your FREE March for Babies headband, follow these three easy steps...
2. Add any other 2 (two) regular-priced headbands to your cart of your choice!
3. When checking out, be sure to enter code: MFB15 to receive your March of Dimes headband FREE!