As a past employee of UM St. Joseph Medical Center, Meghan Ray Virro knew she would be in good hands at the medical center after she became pregnant with her first child. What she didn’t know was just how expert and loving those “hands” would need to be.

On a routine Week 27 visit to her obstetrician, Meghan was discovered to have severe preeclampsia, potentially putting her life, and her baby’s life, in danger. As she tells it, “I did not pass Go, did not collect $200 – I was sent straight from the doctor’s office to St. Joe’s with the knowledge that we might have our daughter three months early, an incredibly frightening scenario.” With intensive medical management, Meghan was able to buy a few additional days of pregnancy, but just four days later, Vivienne was born via cesarean section, weighing only 1lb, 15 oz. The tiny little girl was quickly whisked off to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), her home for the next 59 days.

The two months that followed were a haze of worry, elation and finally, a blessed homecoming. But Meghan and her husband Eric also have very clear memories from that time: first, their initial sorrow and panic that their baby girl was so fragile and second, the incredible effort of the NICU staff to relieve them of this fear. “These are extraordinarily competent clinicians,” says Meghan. “They were always telling us ‘if we’re not worried, you shouldn’t be.’ That went a long way in comforting us. They answered every question, explained what they were doing and why – which was equally important – and sometimes, just listened when we felt overwhelmed.” Adds Eric, “Their level of care was not surprising, as we had the same experience in labor and delivery. Even as they went about preparing for an ‘anything but routine’ birth, the staff were calming both of us and assuring us that all would be well.”

And, indeed, it most certainly has been. Vivienne is now a healthy, vivacious four year old, who happily welcomed her sister Evangeline. Not to be outdone by her older sister, Evangeline created a bit of excitement of her own and decided to make her appearance during the great blizzard of 2016! Fortunately, given her mom’s history, Meghan was already an inpatient in the Mother Baby Unit’s antepartum service when Evangeline decided to make an appearance at 35 weeks gestation, weighing 3lbs, 6 oz. Like Vivienne she is a NICU graduate but came home after only 12 days.

“One could call it ‘a miracle’ that we have two healthy daughters given my medical issues during pregnancy and the challenges of extreme prematurity that Vivienne overcame, but I don’t think that does justice to the physicians and staff at St. Joe’s,” says Meghan. “The miracle was sheer excellence in care, day in and day out, from everyone, matched with a devotion to loving attention that gives our story such a happy ending. Concludes, Eric, “Because of St. Joe’s our daughters had the best possible start in life. How does anyone ever measure that gift?”