TICONDEROGA - A son, Joseph Patrick Vilardo, born to Joseph and Alicia Vilardo of Ticonderoga at the Vermont Children's Hospital in Burlington,Vt.
It reads like most birth announcements, but the arrival of Joseph Patrick Vilardo was anything but routine.
What started out as a normal pregnancy for Alicia at 25 weeks quickly became a roller coaster ride that would last the next 14 weeks.
On Jan. 23 Alicia started to have severe pain and called the doctor. The doctor suggested waiting an hour or two and see if the pain subsided, but soon after her discussion with the doctor Alicia new it was not a time to wait and see.
Joseph made calls to their family and at around 10 that night Joseph, Alicia and Alice (Joseph's mother) where on their way to Porter Medical Center, Middlebury,Vt. The young couple was thankful to have Alice along who is a trained nurse.
The Vilardo couple already had a 3-year-old daughter, Ella, who stayed at home with Alicia's mother, Peggy Armstrong.
Once at the Porter Medical Center, Alicia was examined and it was determined she would need to be transported to the Vermont Children's Hospital in Burlington, where they have a neonatal intensive care unit. The couple waited at Porter Medical about two hours for an ambulance that could transport them safely to Burlington.
Upon arrival at the Burlington hospital Alicia was rushed into a delivery room where hospital staff began to monitor and start ultrasounds to find Alicia needed to be prepped for an emergency caesarean birth.
"There were a lot of people in the delivery room" Alicia recalled. "Mainly for the baby and to be on hand when he was born."
Joseph Patrick came into the world a mere 1 pound, 11 ounces and 14 inches long.
He was put on a ventilator and placed in an incubator in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
The doctors told the Vilardos baby Joseph had an 80-85 percent chance of survival and they could expect him to be in the NICU for the next 12-14 weeks.
The Vilardos were offered housing through the Ronald McDonald program, but declined to help keep a sense of normal life for their daughter Ella.
Alicia couldn't drive herself for the first two weeks so family stepped in and drove Alicia and Ella back and forth while Joseph was at work. Once Alicia could drive herself, family helped out by watching Ella at home.
"We always gave Ella the option, to go or stay at home," Alicia said. "Ella couldn't go into see the baby, she could only look through the glass. She got tired of the long ride. After a while, Ella would say she didn't want to go."
Through the end of winter the Vilardos continued the 90-minute commute to Burlington. They developed close relationships with the three nurses who took care of baby Joseph. The hospital assigns the same nurses to the patients. The Vilardos said this helped with keeping tabs on the baby's condition and any changes that had happened between visits.
Baby Joseph continued to have good days and bad days, he was monitored for any changes in vital signs, and infection. He also had a few surgeries.
"We are thankful for all the donations we received," the Alicia said.
They received gas cards from an anonymous donator, which helped offset the cost of their long commute. Alicia's fellow teachers at Ticonderoga Central School set up a sick day bank where they pooled their sick days for Alicia to use so she could be with her children. The Rainbow Nursery school, owned by Marge Cross, waived Ella's tuition. The Ticonderoga Teachers Association set up a donation bank to assist the family.
The young couple had constant help and support from both their families. The day baby Joseph came home the family cleaned the entire house to have it ready and safe for him.
On May 3, 14 weeks, after his premature birth, Joseph Patrick came home. He was sent home with oxygen, a sleep monitor and a nebulizer. The sleep monitor has been the only equipment used, this more for peace of mind than medical concern.
The first two weeks baby Joseph was home a nurse came for regular check-ups, a service provided through Essex County.
May 15, six days after his full term due date, at 4 months old baby Joseph weighed 6 pounds, 9 ounces and was 19 3/4 inches long.
He is healthy, growing and developing into an active baby boy, his parents noted.
Baby Joseph will continue to have frequent doctor's appointments to closely monitor his health and development.
Alicia returns to work this month and once again family comes to their aid to baby sit their two children.
"We really just want to thank everyone, our family, the community, the doctors and nurses at the hospital, they gave such great care. We couldn't have done it without everyone's help. Thank you." Alicia said.