Submitted by Kimberly Calabrese

Dr. Carmen and Kimberly Calabrese were honored to serve as the ambassador family for the March of Dimes on October 21, 2004 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Part of our role was to share our story.

Kimberly is a former resident and graduate of Calhoun County High School.

It has been a long and excruciating road to parenthood for my husband Carmen and me. We endured the pain of several miscarriages before I finally gave birth to twins - Caitlin and Courtney.

Unfortunately, they were born too early - at 24 weeks gestation - and didn't survive past the second day. It was a very harrowing and surreal time for us. I went into pre-term labor and delivered Courtney at home on our bathroom floor. An EMS squad rushed me to the nearest ER to deliver Caitlin through an emergency C-section.

Carmen and I were so hopeful that this pregnancy would be different than the others. This time we would become the proud parents we desperately wanted to be. And we did become parents that day, but only for a brief time.

Before we could even celebrate their first smile, first words, first bath, we tragically had to say good-bye and mourn all of our hopes and dreams of what could have been.

Although it has been two years since that tragic time, it still feels like yesterday.

Fortunately, Carmen and I were finally granted a miracle last year and her name is Cailee Frances. On November 19, 2003, we welcomed Cailee into this world when she was 35 weeks gestation.

Once again, Carmen and I had to brace ourselves for another terrifying roller coaster ride. The day after she was born, they found that Cailee had a small hole in her lungs and needed a more advanced intensive care unit. Cailee was then transported to a level III neonatal intensive care unit at Cape Fear Valley Hospital.

It was an incredibly scary time for my husband and me, especially after losing twins just one year earlier. We comforted ourselves with the fact that Cailee wasn't born as prematurely as her sisters.

I believe two angels named Caitlin and Courtney danced the day Cailee was born. And I have come to realize that Caitlin and Courtney gave their lives so Cailee could have life. At the end of a storm, you find a beacon of light and our beacon is the birth and development of our daughter Cailee.

During our struggles to have a healthy baby, we came to greatly appreciate the noble work of the March of Dimes. Its mission to prevent miscarriages, improve the medical care of premature babies, and provide vital support to families of babies in the NICU is so very important.