DANVILLE — Leading the charge at the Susquehanna Valley March for Babies this weekend will be two-year old Daniella Andreacci and her parents, Stephanie and Joe.
It’s well-earned reward for the Bloomsburg family, who serves as this year’s ambassador family for the regional March of Dimes event, especially since her parents were scared Daniella wouldn’t even survive.
Stephanie and Joe’s first son, Dante, was stillborn, resulting from severe form of a disease known as preeclampsia.
“What happened with our son literally happened overnight,” said Stephanie. “Throughout the whole pregnancy with Daniella, we were sort of on pins and needles… It was an emotional roller coaster. You’re worried, you’re anxious, you have really no control.”
There is not a lot of research on preeclampsia said Stephanie, who works at Geisinger Medical Center as a clinical social worker. What is known is that it affects pregnant women severe high blood pressure, which can result in seizures, stroke, kidney failure and liver failure, all of which can affect the baby’s health as well. The only response is to monitor symptoms as they come, said Stephanie.
She develop severe preeclampsia at 28 weeks of pregnancy and was put on hospital bed rest 17 days before Daniella was born. Doctors decided to deliver Danillea early because she was not growing due to the preeclampsia.
Daniella was born nine weeks early, weighing only two pounds and 13 ounces. “My husband’s wedding band fit on her wrist as a bracelet,” said Stephanie. She was quickly admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
While Stephanie and Joe waited for their daughter’s health to improve, they found some relief with Geisinger’s family support activities program. The programs, offered jointly through Geisinger and the March of Dimes, gave them a chance to meet with other NICU parents and escape from the sometimes tense hospital environment. Participating in events such as onesie decoration, scrap-booking and pizza parties helped restore a sense of normalcy to their lives, said Stephanie.
In the end, Daniella only spent 28 days in the NICU, which is not that long for a 28-week old baby, said Stephanie. Today, she’s a spunky, strong-willed toddler who loves playing with her dolls and the family dog, said Stephanie. She also has no other health complications. “We’ve been very, very blessed,” she said.
As ambassadors for this year’s March of Dimes Walk, Daniella and her parents have spoken at Geisinger, corporate events and local sponsors, such as Macy’s. And Daniella will be the first to cross the starting line at the March for Babies. “We get to lead the walk, which Daniella is very excited about. She gets to be the leader,” said Stephanie.
The Susquehanna Valley Walk for Babies will be held on Sunday, May 5, at 10:30 a.m., at the parking lot next to the Geisinger Medical Center parking garage. Check-in will start at 9:30 a.m., with all funds raised going towards the March of Dimes and its services for expecting mothers and pre-term babies.
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