Premature baby fights for life

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 17, 2006

VIDALIA &8212;First-time expectant mother Holly Weatherly Birely began to feel ill Dec. 26.

A trip to the doctor revealed her blood pressure was elevated. Test results indicated she had toxemia, a poisoning of the blood caused by bacterial toxic substances.

Birely, 23, was sent to Jackson Dec. 28. Afraid for her life doctors advised premature delivery by Cesarean section.

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On Dec. 30 &8212; 12 weeks early &8212; Jenna Grace and Jadyn Elizabeth Birely came into the world weighing 1 pound, 11 ounces and 2 pounds, 1 ounce respectively. They were placed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Jadyn died on Jan. 1.

Holly and her husband of five years, Dustin, have been spending every waking hour helping Jenna fight for her young life.

And while they are taking it day by day, Holly Birely looks forward to the day when Jenna comes home to Vidalia.

&8220;All my nieces and nephews are looking forward to meeting her, but they can&8217;t yet because she&8217;s so little,&8221; she said.

Niece Karlee Long, 6, wanted to say hello to and to tell Jenna &8220;I love her.&8221;

Karlee&8217;s mother, Miranda Weatherly Long, is Holly&8217;s big sister. With two girls of her own, Long, 30, said she felt powerless to help her baby sister.

&8220;I wish I could take some of the hurt away, but there&8217;s nothing we can do,&8221; she said. &8220;If I could do it for her, I&8217;d do it for her.&8221;

She, her mother, Darlene Weatherly, and her other siblings have been doing a lot to help, though.

They keep the local community informed and lend emotional support to the young parents.

They run back and forth to Jackson to watch the newborn slowly progress.

Although Jenna has added 3 ounces and is breathing on her own, the Birelys expect to be in Jackson until at least March 20, Holly&8217;s original due date.

They are staying in a Ronald McDonald House, which provides accommodations for those living away from home while a seriously ill child is in the hospital.

And while Jenna&8217;s care is largely provided for and Dustin&8217;s job at Bug Busters is safe, people in the community have been wondering how they can help, Darlene Weatherly said.

&8220;Everywhere I go, people are handing me money, saying, &8216;give this to the baby,&8217;&8221; she said.

With the help of the Vidalia branch of Concordia Bank and Trust, Weatherly and her husband, Eddie, who works as assistant manager at the Vidalia Market, set up the Birely Medical Expense account.

The most important thing, Holly Birely said, was for people to continue to stay positive.

&8220;Keep praying for us.&8221;