Dallas NICU is ‘Right Place’ for Twins Plus One
Laura and Russell Vrana spent the first half of their now 10-year marriage traveling and enjoying each other’s company. When they finally decided to start a family, Laura found out she had polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). The condition proved to make a natural pregnancy very difficult. The couple’s first attempt at invitro fertilization was also unsuccessful, so a second round of fertility treatments was met with less than high expectations.
With only a 2 percent chance of triplets resulting from their second IVF cycle, the couple was quite shocked when they learned Laura was carrying identical twins plus one. Laura’s obstetrician practiced at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas and quickly connected her with maternal fetal medicine specialists Brian Rinehart, M.D. and Laura Greer, M.D. ― also on the hospital’s medical staff, who would oversee her care throughout her pregnancy.
“Due to the extremely high-risk nature of Laura’s pregnancy, it was important for her to deliver in a facility with an advanced Neonatal Intensive Care Unit,” according to Rinehart. “The outstanding labor and delivery resources and staff available at Texas Health Dallas make the management of potentially complicated cases safer and easier than they would likely be somewhere with less sophisticated technology.”
After the Vranas toured the Level III NICU at Texas Health Dallas, Laura knew she and her family were in the right place. She just didn’t realize it would become her home away from home for the foreseeable future.
At just 26 gestational weeks, Laura was diagnosed with a shrinking cervix and was admitted to the Antepartum Unit for complete bed rest and medication to stave off contractions. To help make her stay in the unit more bearable, Laura received visits from therapy dogs, the hospital’s Deacon and even her own dog was allowed to make periodic visits to her room. At 31.6 weeks, the mom-to-be began spotting. It was time for delivery.
The babies were each born a minute apart. Twin girls Elliot and Zooey weighed in at 3.13 pounds and 3.12 pounds, respectively, and Jude was a brute at 4.5 pounds. All three newborns were taken to the NICU, with Jude experiencing some trouble breathing. As the babies settled in to their first home for monitoring and breathing treatments, Laura had her own challenges to overcome.
“I ended up losing vision in my right eye due to sky-high blood pressure and didn’t get to visit the babies for two days,” Laura said. “Russell took tons of pictures and kept telling me how wonderful the NICU staff was. The nurses were very supportive in my absence and applauded Russell each time he brought even a teaspoon of milk down for the babies. The staff knew I was recovering from a tough delivery so they were extremely patient and helpful with not only the kids but me as well. ”
“We got to experience kangaroo care and feeding and holding the babies as much as possible. We received great support from the lactation team when I had a clogged duct a few weeks in and I developed a special bond with our lactation consultant, Nuala. We stayed in touch and I would always tell my pregnant girlfriends to ask for her at Texas Health Dallas. Honestly, I missed the round-the-clock care we received in the NICU when it was time to graduate to special care,” she added.
Once Laura was able to go home, she relied on the nursing staff to provide updates on the triplets when she was pumping in the middle of the night or trying to rest. It was spring time in North Texas and severe weather made the new mom especially uneasy. Being away from her children during storms was hard, but the nurses worked to assure her that the babies were safe and being well looked after.
“I developed some great relationships with nurses and aides, and I am still in contact with them today,” said Laura. “I especially appreciated Amy Bache and Shannon Gambrell. Amy connected me to other moms of triplets through the NICU Parents Facebook page, and that made the journey a little less intimidating. Shannon helped us navigate life even after the kids were home. There was never a doubt in my mind that our needs and comfort were top priority among the doctors, nurses, receptionists and volunteers with whom we came in contact. We love attending the hospital’s NICU reunions to show our tremendous gratitude.”