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Gabriella's Remarkable Story

Gabriella at age two. Photo by JAN GENTRY.

Nicole Brose of Falls Church went in for her regular checkup at 28.5 weeks and got stunning news from her OB/GYN, Jane Piness, MD. Her blood pressure had been running high from preeclampsia, but now it was at a dangerous level. Her baby needed to be delivered immediately — almost three months too soon.
Their baby girl, Gabriella, weighed just 2.5 pounds when she was born at Virginia Hospital Center in August 2007. Gabriella spent the next 65 days in a private NICU room.
“The NICU staff was incredible and gave us unbelievable support. Gabriella’s room was big, with a rocking chair. I brought in a radio and played classical music. It was so comfortable and peaceful,” Nicole recalls. Gabriella weighed 4.5 pounds when she went home. Early on, Nicole and her husband, Jeff, took her to see Christine Wallin, EdD, infant developmental specialist at the Hospital’s Developmental Follow-up Clinic. In the beginning, she saw Dr. Wallin every few weeks.
“Chris is one in a million,” Nicole says. “As first-time parents, we were even more anxious because Gabriella was born so early. With Chris, it was reassuring to know that I could call her anytime. She had an answer to every question I had.” As Gabriella aged, her progress was remarkable. At 18 months, Dr. Wallin observed how she was holding a pencil and drawing. “I remember Chris said, ‘Gabriella has the motor skills of a four-year-old,’” recalls Nicole.
Gabriella now is a happy, healthy first grader with no developmental deficits. In fact, she’s reading in the top tier of her class. “We valued our time with Chris so much, I was a little upset when Gabriella was too old to see her anymore,” Nicole says.
“But then Chris said, ‘I’m always a phone call away. You can call me anytime.’”

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