PRINCETON — In late 2004, Tera and Jason Dillow knew they had been blessed.

High school sweethearts, the couple already had one son, Kyle, and they had just learned Tera was pregnant with another, a prospect that delighted the parents who had prayed for hard about adding onto their family.

“I had all the best expectations for this pregnancy but soon learned the lesson that no two pregnancies are the same,” Tera wrote in a blog on the WalkAmerica website. “I was so tired and so nauseated. I never remembered feeling like this before.”

A medical scare soon offered news Tera and Jason never suspected.

They had twins on the way.

Although the unexpected turn of events brought a whole different set of worries, Tera said it also brought a new joy to the Princeton couple.

“We were so excited, yet all new fears became evident. We had a lot more planning and praying ahead of us,” Tera said.

Doctors estimated Tera’s delivery date to be July 20, 2005, but her twin girls didn’t want to wait that long.

During a routine visit in early May, the doctor warned she was in danger of delivering too early. When bed rest didn’t stop her contractions, Tera spent the next 11 days in the hospital, only to go into congestive heart failure once the contractions subsided.

At one point, she gained 13 pounds, literally overnight.

By mid-May, Tera continued to face life-threatening health concerns of her own. On May 16, nine weeks before her baby girls were set to be born, doctors sent her to a Roanoke hospital that featured a neonatal intensive care unit and induced labor.

On May 17, the Dillows’ twin daughters were born.

“Kara Faith was born first and weighed 3 pounds, 7 ounces, and Erika Nicole came seven minutes later and weighed 3 pounds, 14 ounces,” Tera said.

After 17 days in the NICU in Roanoke, and another 19 days at Bluefield Regional Medical Center, Tera, Jason and Kyle took Kara and Erika home for the first time.

Although the girls had a few health complications due to their premature birth, Tera said they grew quickly and are now completely healthy.

She said her family’s prayers were answered, but she said she knew there are many other families facing premature birth and more difficult situations. She spoke out recently to help raise awareness about the hazards and need for more research and treatment funds.

The Dillows have been chosen as the March of Dimes’ Mercer County mission family, and as such, they’re encouraging the community to get behind WalkAmerica.

The Mercer walk is set for Saturday at Glenwood Park. Registration begins at 1 p.m., and the walk starts at 2 p.m.

According to the March of Dimes website, premature birth is the No. 1 cause of death among American newborns. It endangers approximately half a million babies, with little or no known cause.

That’s why the March of Dimes, and the Dillows say WalkAmerica and similar programs are so critically important. They raise awareness of the issue and funds to fight it.

“The money you raise goes directly to research to find the causes of premature birth and how it can be prevented, to support families whose babies must spend time in neonatal intensive care units and to provide women with the latest information on having a healthy pregnancy,” the WalkAmerica website stated.

If you can’t make it to the walk Saturday, the March of Dimes will accept donations at March of Dimes Metro Division, 3508 Staunton Ave., SE 2nd Floor, Charleston, WV, 25304.

For more information, visit www.walkamerica.com.

— Contact Tammie Toler at ttoler@ptonline.net.

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