Beth Gaillard and Megan Segetti share a common sorrow—both lost their babies shortly after they were born prematurely.
Now, both Naugatuck women are using their experiences as motivation to help ensure other women don’t go through what they did. Gaillard and Segetti will be ambassadors for the March for Babies to benefit the March of Dimes.
Gaillard and her family will share their story at the Fairfield March for Babies April 30, exactly two years after her second daughter was born and died.
Brooke was born 24 weeks early and only lived for 25 hours before she passed away in her mother’s arms.
Gaillard said she decided to be an ambassador for the charity, which raises money to support research and education on premature births, as a way to honor her lost daughter.
“We really support their mission,” Gaillard said.
When she was six and a half months pregnant with Brooke, Gaillard got a Strep V infection, a common infection usually treated with antibiotics. This time though, the infection passed into the placenta, threatening Gaillard’s life.
“For me, in came on very quickly,” Gaillard said.
At a regular checkup two days before, the doctors told her everything was fine.
The only way to stop the infection was with delivery. So Brooke was born, weighing a mere 1 lb. 6 oz. She passed away soon after from a brain hemorrhage.
“It was probably about the worst thing I think I’ve ever had to do,” Gaillard said.
She said it was nice to have that moment with her daughter in the few hours she was alive.
But it was even harder to go back home and tell her then two-year-old daughter Madison that she wasn’t getting a sister after all.
“I think that was even worse,” Gaillard said.
After Brooke’s death, Gaillard said she still wanted to give her daughter a sibling. With the support of her family and friends, she decided to try again. She crossed her fingers and hoped everything would go smoothly.
Gaillard said the March of Dimes supported programs that helped her through a third, successful pregnancy.
During her pregnancy, Gaillard received weekly progesterone shots for 21 weeks, went for weekly ultrasounds at the Bridgeport hospital, and took a Strep B test every six weeks.
All the Strep tests came back negative.
Her son, Dilian, will be one year old on May 4.
Gaillard said the attention and care she received from hospital staff helped her get through her third pregnancy.
“I think that extra attention that we received really helped,” Gaillard said.
She said the staff helped her emotionally and checked up on her, especially as she neared the 24 week mark, the time her second daughter was born prematurely.
Gaillard said Dilian is the best medicine for her.
“He’s her (Brooke’s) gift. Without her, my daughter Brooke, we wouldn’t have him. He’s such a happy baby,” Gaillard said. “He brought a lot of life back into our house.”
Gaillard said she looks forward to some day telling Dilian how the gift of Brooke’s life and death brought him into the world.
Segetti’s son was born in July 2009, four months before he was due. He weighted just 1 lb. 2 oz.
Segetti had an incompetent cervix and went into premature labor when she was 22 weeks pregnant.
Her son, Michael Jay, was born still.
Despite the loss, Segetti tried again. She now has a healthy, 7-month-old boy, Nathan.
“I wanted to have children more than anything,” Segetti said.
She said she was scared the whole time she was pregnant with Nathan that something would go wrong again. The doctors gave her a cervical cerlage to keep her cervix closed. Nathan was born just a few days short of full-term.
“He is absolutely perfect,” Segetti said.
Segetti said without research funded by the March of Dimes, her body would have done the same thing and she would have delivered early again.
“Some of the research they collected shows what can be done to prevent pre-term labor, and it worked in my case,” Segetti said.
As a labor and delivery nurse in the Women and Infant Center at St. Mary’s Hospital, Segetti said she sees a lot of premature births.
“We do everything we can to hold off the delivery, but it’s really a big risk for these babies. The research that they do really improves these babies’ chances to survive,” Segetti said.
The women are now sharing their stories to help raise awareness for the March for Babies cause.
Gaillard wants to help others to prevent premature births and help save premature babies.
“Our goal is just to support their mission, honor our daughter and educate others on premature births,” Giallard said.
In Connecticut, one in 10 babies is born too soon—over 4,100 babies each year.
“That’s a lot of babies,” Giallard said. “I’ve met a lot of people who have gone through this.”
She said babies born later in pregnancy have better outcomes.
“I do think it’s a big issue and we need to focus on it a little bit more,” Gaillard said.
Funds raised by March for Babies in Connecticut help support prenatal wellness programs, research grants, neonatal intensive care unit family support programs and advocacy efforts for stronger, healthier babies.
Segetti said she was nominated to act as ambassador for the March for Babies by a family friend after participating in the walk last year.
As ambassador for the March for Babies, Segetti said she hopes to raise awareness of pre-term delivery and birth and raise money for more research to save babies’ lives. She said she wants to do anything she can to make sure other mothers don’t have to go through what she went through when she lost her son.
“My husband and I will be speaking before the walk and we’ll cut the ribbon and lead the march with our children,” Segetti said.
Segetti and her family will share their story at Quassy Amusement Park May 1.
To register for the three-mile walk, visit www.marchforbabies.org or www.marchofdimes.com/ct.