Piper Grey Gentry
“We never doubted the miracle that she was,” said Amber Gentry. But for Amber and her husband Dan, the frightening and early arrival of their daughter Piper rocked their world and began a long, emotional journey that no parent should endure.
Amber’s pregnancy, by all accounts, was uneventful; and she and Dan were looking forward to starting their family. However, when mild cramping began, the couple decided to at least check it out on the morning of March 4, 2016. “In my wildest dreams I never expected to be wheeled up to labor and delivery,” said Amber. “All I could think was ‘I’m only 24 weeks and three days…it’s too early to have her come into the world.’”
Efforts to control contractions failed, and when Amber started bleeding it was quickly determined that there was a placental abruption. The situation became urgent and 20 minutes later, three months before her due date, Piper Grey Gentry arrived weighing only 1 pound, 10.5 ounces. “Dan and I saw her for the first time a couple hours later, touched her the first time four days later and finally held her for the first time when she was one week and one day,” Amber lamented.
Piper remained in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for 105 days, and amazed the medical staff with her determination to reach and surpass every hurdle set before her. “The nurses called her Pistol Piper,” said Dan. “It was really fitting considering what a little fighter she was.” And, Pistol Piper’s Posse became the obvious name of the Gentry’s family team when they decided to join the March of Dimes March for Babies event in La Crosse a couple months after Piper’s birth. The morning of the walk, the team made a pit stop in the NICU to visit Piper and gather strength from her fighting spirit. With 31 members of Pistol Piper’s Posse, the team raised over $4,800 for the March of Dimes.
“Without the March of Dimes key role in medical advancements, Piper’s premature birth never would have had as successful an outcome as it did,” mentioned Amber. “But there is still so many unanswered questions, like what triggers contractions in pregnancy? If we knew, Piper may have been born full term and never have endured her early birth.” Thankful that Piper survived and is now thriving while she celebrates her first birthday, the Gentrys want to encourage others in the La Crosse area to support the March of Dimes, to someday put an end to premature birth. “We were the lucky ones.” said Amber. “There’s too many babies that aren’t lucky enough to come home, or if they do, face a life-time of disabilities.”