Even though our first daughter was born prematurely in 2001 at just 29 weeks, it wasn't until after our third daughter was born that we created our March for Babies team, Arianna's Army.
At the time, when our oldest daughter Lexi was born in 2001, I was a young first time mom and I don't even think I really had time to process what was happening. I had suffered from severe class I HELLP syndrome and I was intensely focused on Lexi's health and how her early birth was going to impact the rest of her life. I blamed myself and my body for her early birth and I felt that I had failed her. The next few years were spent making countless trips to the doctor, having dozens of medical procedure and racking up new diagnosis. I didn't give much thought to a cause for her preterm delivery let alone think about how it could have been prevented. Years went by and I had made the decision that because there was so little known about HELLP syndrome and predicting its risk of recurrence was nearly impossible, that I would not have any more children. In early 2008 my husband and I became parents to a second little girl. Thanks to her incredible birth mother, she was born full term, on her due date. As shocking as becoming a mother again was, we were even more shocked to find out I was pregnant just a few months later.
We immediately panicked at the idea of having a third child, especially so close in age to her sister. We were also terrified that we would have a repeat NICU stay and also afraid of the effects to my health if I developed HELLP syndrome again. We found an awesome OB that specialized in high risk pregnancies and prepared for what we thought was the worst, another long NICU stay. We put a plan in place in the event our baby came early and how we would navigate the NICU. I felt like the NICU was a familiar journey and I knew what to expect. My pregnancy progressed with no signs of any complications for 22 weeks when all of a sudden my water broke quite unexpectedly. I was placed on hospital bed rest with the idea that I would remain there until our daughter was born several weeks later. After 6 days in the hospital I developed a severe infection that caused me to develop septic shock. Our daughter had to be delivered at just 23 weeks. As we waited for our daughter to arrive I mentally prepared for how different the NICU would be with a micro preemie. I tried desperately to recall all of the machines I had seen being used while Lexi was in the NICU and prepare myself as much as possible for what I would see when we saw our baby in the NICU. On November 3, 2008 our daughter Arianna Elaine was born at 23 weeks gestation. She weighed 1 pound 1 ounce and was 12 inches long. She never made it to the NICU. She died 27 minutes after she was born in her daddy's arms. Devastated doesn't even begin to describe how we were feeling.
After Arianna died I was desperate to connect with someone who could understand what I was feeling. I found shareyourstory a few weeks after she was born and found other parents who had lost children. Some days the only thing that got me out of bed was knowing I wasn't alone. The women on Share gave me the courage to find a maternal fetal medicine specialist to talk to so we could discuss the best option for having a healthy baby. They gave me ideas and questions to ask at my appointment. After meeting with my MFM doctor my husband and I decided to try again. We had a plan in place for my pregnancy as well as the support of an entire community of parents who "got it". A little over a year after Arianna was born we gave birth to a healthy 36 weeker named Keira. She was perfect in every way and got to go home with us when we left the hospital, a first for us despite this being our fourth child.
We walk so that our three living daughters won't ever have to feel the devastation of losing a child, so they won't ever spend a holiday or "first" anything in the NICU. We walk so our girls never have to sit beside an incubator staring at their baby wondering if they will survive the night or when they will get to hold their child for the first time. We March for Babies so other parents like us have options and resources for current and future pregnancies. Without the parents who walked before us, we would very likely be the parents of only one living child.
Arianna's Army will be walking in Lafayette, IN on April 25th. Our Team has $1,030.00 in committed donations so far and an Army of people cheering us on!
Thank you, Jamie, for sharing your reason for walking, for sharing Arianna's heartbreaking story and Keira's triumphant one.
Thank you for inspiring all of us with your heart, your courage, your love.
Sending hugs to you and to your team! Love all that you do in her memory, for all of your girls, and for future families. Thank you for giving and sharing so much of yourself to those on this site and to the March of Dimes. You rock!
Lots of love,
Proud of you, Jami!
Thank you for sharing your story. So sorry for the loss of your daughter Arianna. Great job with Arianna's Army!
We help moms have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies. And if something goes wrong, we offer information and comfort to families. We research the problems that threaten our babies and work on preventing them.
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