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PERRY COUNTY – Each year, the March of Dimes March for Babies walk asks one family to step forward and share their story as the ambassador family. This year, however, the Perry-Spencer County March for Babies asked two families to talk about their experiences with premature birth and how the March of Dimes is instrumental in helping them and others who have premature babies.
The story of the first family, Jaime, Houston, Alex and Raylynn Jones, started out rocky from the start.
“After we found out that we were pregnant, (the doctors told me) my protein levels were higher than normal … they tested me every baby visit,” Jaime said as she began her story.
The Joneses continued to be cautious as Jaime progressed in her pregnancy, but on May 22, 2012 – the day before a scheduled doctor’s appointment – Jaime began to experience Braxton Hicks contractions, false-labor contractions that sometimes occur when a mother is about six weeks into a pregnancy.
“I went to my appointment and the doctor said my protein level and my blood pressure were high. She admitted me to the hospital,” Jaime said.
Soon after she was admitted, her doctor arrived to speak with Jaime and Houston about Jaime’s condition and that was when the Joneses were told the baby would be coming within the next few days.
After trying to naturally induce Jaime into labor, her doctor made the decision to proceed with a C-section.
“Raylynn was starting to show signs of being stressed, so they got me ready and I went back,” Jaime explained.
On Friday, May 25, 2012, Raylynn Jones was born at 30 weeks and two days. At the time of her birth, she weighed only 2 pounds, 9.6 ounces. The baby was placed on a ventilator to help her breathe and she was also jaundiced, which is a yellowing of the skin, mucus membranes or eyes.
The birth took a toll on Jaime, too, who wasn’t able to walk down to the neonatal intensive care unit to see Raylynn; staff had to wheel her there to see her newborn baby. The next day, feeling well enough to walk, Jaime went straight to the NICU to see her baby girl.
The first few weeks of little Raylynn’s life were far from easy. The baby was still kept on a ventilator for her breathing and doctors placed a peripherally inserted central catheter in her.
“When she was a week old, Houston and I got to hold Raylynn for the first time,” Jaime said.
For 49 days, Raylynn called the NICU home, going through blood transfusions and “all the normal NICU procedures,” Jaime said. Even when the Joneses were allowed to take their daughter home, Raylynn was not in the clear. The Jones had to keep their daughter on a monitor to keep track of her heart and breathing patterns. Doctors also gave the couple vitamins to give Raylynn to help her along in her progress.
By Aug. 7, to the delight and relief of her family, Raylynn was taken off her monitor.
“The doctors said she was doing really great. Today, Raylynn is 7 pounds and 2 ounces,” Jaime said.
The story of the Vaught family is similar. April Vaught was visiting her doctor for a regular monthly checkup in 2003 when she was informed her protein levels and blood pressure were extremely high.
“The doctor made us go directly to the hospital and they transported me by ambulance to St. Mary’s in Evansville,” April said.
Upon her arrival at St. Mary’s, doctors did an ultrasound and found April had very little amniotic fluid and diagnosed her with toxemia and preeclampsia, which is caused by a combination of high blood pressure and protein during a pregnancy.
“They said they would have to take the baby immediately,” April said. “We were just beside ourselves because I was only 26 weeks pregnant at the time. The ultrasound estimated him to be over 2 pounds.”
The staff at the hospital immediately prepared April for a C-section and an hour later, Avery Rylin Vaught was born. He only weighed 1 pound, 3 ounces and was 12 inches long.
“The doctors only gave him a 10-percent chance of living. They said with each passing day that chance would go up a little at a time,” April explained.
Like Raylynn, Avery was placed on a ventilator after his birth. After three days, doctors removed the ventilator and April said her son was “very strong and kept fighting.”
Avery’s stay in the NICU would be 77 days filled with numerous breathing treatments, steroids, blood transfusions, caffeine and many IVs. He was also given surfactant to prevent and treat respiratory distress syndrome. Surfactant, according to the Vaughts, was produced through research funded by the March of Dimes.
After spending the first few months of his life in the hospital, April and her husband, Jason, were allowed to take Avery home. When he was released, he weighed 5 pounds, 2 ounces.
“He continued to thrive and now is a very healthy, active 9-year-old,” April said. “He is full of life and energy and shows no signs of being premature, except for the fact he wears glasses.”
“We as a family feel extremely blessed to have Avery in our lives each and every day,” she added.
Both families stress the importance of the work of the March of Dimes and how research and care from the organization are part of the reason Avery and Raylynn were able to overcome their premature births and continue growing today.
“It is because of this research that we believe Avery is as healthy and has been able to thrive as he has,” April said.
March for Babies Sunday
Both the Vaughts and the Joneses encourage the communities of Perry and Spencer counties to attend the Perry-Spencer County March for Babies Sunday at Old National Bank on Main Street in Tell City.
April, Jason, Jaime and Houston, along with Avery and Raylynn, will be present to share their stories and help show others the importance of the March of Dimes organization. Registration for the walk will begin at 2 p.m. and the march will begin at 3.