Bobby and Kristal Arrigone found out they were expecting their first child on their one- year wedding anniversary. “I had the picture perfect pregnancy,” Kristal says. At 16 weeks, the couple found out they were having a boy, and Kristal’s 20-week ultrasound went by without a hitch. Around week 23, however, she started having mild backaches and some pressure, but chalked it up to normal pregnancy issues.
On June 26, 2011 at 24 weeks along, Kristal woke up with spotting and called the doctor right away, who told the couple to head to Dameron Hospital. “The OB [obstetrics nurse] on duty examined me,” she remembers, “then looked at my husband and I and said these dreaded words, ‘We are in trouble’. The doctor told me I was in full labor, I was dilated to a four and the amniotic sac was bulging. He said I would remain in the hospital until I delivered.”
For 10 days, Kristal lay completely flat and highly medicated, trying to keep her son in utero. But on July 6, after a routine exam, she heard the same devastating phrase, ‘We are in trouble’. “Next thing I knew, five nurses and anesthesiologists rushed to my bedside and prepped me for surgery,” Kristal shares. “At 3:17 p.m. my tiny, beautiful son was born at just 26 weeks, weighing 2 lbs. even. My husband Bob and I named him Robert Frank – Robert after my husband and Frank after his great uncle. Our NICU [neonatal intensive care unit] journey began at that moment.”
Kristal had heard of the March of Dimes a few times in the past, but it wasn’t until after Robby was born that she understood exactly what they do. According to Kristal, “One of our nurses gave me literature on prematurity, and in the pamphlet it mentioned the MOD. I decided to do a little research and found that the MOD funded the research for the surfactant treatment that Robby received at birth. I also found some online support and videos available to help mothers like myself cope with the different ailments and diagnoses of our babies.” When Robby was 13 weeks old, an ophthalmologist found he had advanced to Stage 3 Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), which occurs when the blood vessels around the retinas swell or harden. Robby was transferred to UCSF Medical Center for emergency laser surgery to prevent retinal detachment. The family later learned that ROP research and treatment was also funded by MOD. After 15 weeks in the hospital, the Arrigones finally got to bring their “little miracle” home. Robby is now a happy, healthy 2-year-old.
In May 2012, the family walked in the March for Babies along with 25 of their closest family and friends. Their Dameron NICU support group raised over $4,000 for the event. And in May 2013, the Arrigones were approached to be the Ambassador Family for the March of Dimes Signature Chef event. “We felt so honored to be able to share our story and help raise some awareness for premature babies,” Kristal shares. The event was held on October 10, 2013 at the Stockton Arena. More than 20 chefs and restaurants from around the Central Valley were on hand to prepare their signature dishes and be auctioned off for private events. She concludes, “Bobby, Robby and I are so grateful for all of the doctors and nurses at Dameron Hospital…We are also thankful for the March of Dimes for making it their mission that every baby is born healthy and on time.” By Kimberly Stredney
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
March of Dimes
(415) 788-2202, marchofdimes.com