A Sister's Will
May 22, 2011, 10:08 PM
For one KELOLAND family, not a day goes by that they don't think of a little girl that changed their lives forever.
The Vandrovecs would have been raising 5-month-old twins today, but in an instant that all changed. Still they're grateful for the one life spared, and they have a one pound, six ounce little girl to thank.
Jess Vandrovec was thrilled at the thought of having twin baby girls, little sisters to 7-year-old Mya, the family they had been trying to grow for more than 4 years. But early last fall that excitement turned tragic.
“I mean it was like the size of a volleyball,” Jess Vandrovec said. “I mean it was just there.”
One of the girl's amniotic sacs literally fell out, leaving Jess and her husband Terry with unimaginable fear.
“I had gotten Mya to school and was just hanging out and went back to bed for a little bit,” Terry said. “So it was literally like a nightmare cause I just woke to Jess screaming.”
Jess was rushed to the emergency room and in an attempt to deliver Breley, the twin whose amniotic sac came out first, the other sac burst, leaving both girls to fighting to survive without fluid.
“It was, just did not seem like this was happening, this couldn't be happening,” Vandrovec said.
For four days the family waited and prayed that the girls would continue to survive.
“Even though I was at 23 weeks and 4 days, I mean anybody that came in and said if you can make it to 24 weeks, those babies are so much better,” Jess said.
At 24 weeks and one hour the Vandrovecs welcomed babies Breley and Kailey into the world.
“Do I get the video camera ready, do I call people, do I call a pastor, do I prepare for a funeral? Like what do I do?” Terry said.
“I remember just seeing them and thinking that they just, they didn't look like babies," Jess said. "They were fetuses. Their eyes were fused shut, their skin was transparent. They were hooked up to more tubes than you could ever imagine."
The girls were only 12 inches long, could fit in the palm of a hand and weight little more than a bottle of water. Breley took the brunt of the problems.
“At 5 o'clock, I got the call to get down to the NICU because Breley took a turn for the worse,” Jess said.
At only two days old, with a severe infection and a bleeding brain, Breley died.
“They just looked at me and said we think it's time and I said yea give her to me and she died in my arms,” Jess said.
And in that moment, it hit them the infections Breley took in being born first, had saved her sister's life.
“She saved Kailey's life by hanging in there for four days till I hit 24 weeks," Jess said. "Breley was very fragile when she was born and when she died, we realized that she stuck in there to save Kailey."
“They told us that had an adult had the injuries that she did, the brain injuries that severe, they wouldn't have been able to last that long," Terry said. "And yet here somehow she found a way to do that and just long enough to give Kailey the only chance she had."
It was now Kailey's turn to show her sister that she could survive.
“You're not allowed in the NICU until you are thrust into the NICU," Terry said. "And some people with high-risk pregnancies have prep time, well we didn't."
The Vandrovecs spent 133 days, nearly five months, by Kailey's bedside at Sanford's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit - they watched nurses and doctors give their little girl the care she needed to survive the worst.
“These people know what you're in for," Terry said. "They know where you've been and they know where you're going more so than any family or friends because they've never been through it."
And thanks to those people, Kailey is home.
“Kailey is an amazing baby," Jess said. "She's so content. You know everything she's gone through, you would think she'd be really fussy and crabby at the world. And she's just a happy little girl."
She's still on oxygen, and gets fed through a feeding tube. Kailey is about a month behind other 5 month olds.
But the family knows she's hanging in there because it's what her sister would have wanted.
“Siblings protect each other all the time but that was the most true and literal sense of that protecting your sibling,” Terry said.
It's pride this young family will carry with them forever, knowing Breley's will to hang in there gave her sister a fighting chance.
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