Jennifer Labriola used to envy those whose life was a neat little package. Effortlessly their life was textbook, fairytale normal. How it’s supposed to be or what they thought it should be.
Jennifer’s journey through life has been overcoming hurdles – she is a reporter at heart and research has always been in her wheelhouse. When she couldn’t get pregnant, she researched infertility. When she found her insurance wouldn’t pay for it, she researched and questioned nurses about how she could save. Finally, after eight years, they put in two embryos in May of 2014, with the cautious, “Two? Maybe they should only do one” questioning of her husband, Carlo.
After years of negative pregnancy tests, she finally was pregnant, and not with one baby, but an overachieving two babies (both girls). Finally, she thought, she could start up the normal part of life, with a normal pregnancy, right?
At 24 weeks during an ultrasound the doctor told her they had a problem. She chuckled, thinking he was joking, but no, her “baby b” had intermittent absent blood flow. She was growing very slow, while baby A was doing fine. She struggled for weeks, praying to get to at least 28 weeks. The doctor kept a close eye on the babies and each time she arrived to her appointments he would joke if she’d “packed her bags” for the hospital. “No, not yet,” she’d say with a smile. Positivity was what she clung to during these stressful times.
Jennifer and the girls finally arrived at 28 weeks and during one appointment, the baby’s brain, which was being affected by the cord issue, was beginning to show normal readings. This sounded great, but the doctor looked concerned and said, “we’re having some babies today.”
Normal brain function, means the baby was giving up. We had 48 hours to remove them, or else we’d lose baby b. Patience Lucia (baby a) and Aria LaSalle (baby b) were born on Oct. 26, 2015 at 6:03 and 6:08pm via c-section. Patience, the bigger of the two, came out crying at 2lb 8oz. Aria came out with a soft cry, and weighed 1lb 10oz. She got a quick peek of the babies, but all she could remember was seeing Patience in a plastic bag and thinking how odd it was.
Their journey was just beginning, with hesitant congratulations, and an uneasy feeling from family and friends. She never once felt that the girls wouldn’t survive, she was 100% positive that they would be just fine – they were strong babies even if so tiny.
The day she got to see them she thought it would be a life changing moment, but it was more of a numbing, overloaded moment. She was overloaded with the NICU nurses crash course in the norms of their new NICU life. Wash your hands before you touch them, don’t rub their skin – it’s too sensitive right now, and be sure to talk low. It was a lot to process at one time and as she looked at the other babies and compared their weights to to the others, she realized they had the smallest babies in the NICU.
They got lucky. Their girls only had minor issues such as jaundice and both were on low-flow cannulas. A perk of having babies in the NICU is learning medical terms, in a constant state of being overwhelmed they constantly learned about the babies. They got to know the nurses, got to learn which ones they liked and spoke with doctors about care. She never asked when the girls could come home.
After a while, their weeks and days were the same – they would spend weekends at the hospital. Eat in the cafeteria, day dream about when the babies would come home. Celebrate their milestones, they soon had feeder/growers – and just like what the NICU nurses told them, it would happen fast for the girls to come home.
Patience came home first – the day they picked her up, was a stressful bittersweet day. She was happy and yet sad to have to leave her sister Aria there for another week. Patience came home on January 2 while Aria came home on the twin’s due date on January 13.
Now with both girls are home, it’s been a rollercoaster of doctor’s appointments for their development. They are good babies, with personalities and smiles and giggles that is music to their ears. Being NICU parents, she knows they have a long road ahead of us with making sure the development of the girls is on track. She always wanted a normal type of life, but now, she couldn’t imagine her life any other way. Her babies are different, they are special and she is blessed with each milestone they reach.