Monday, December 01, 2008

New mom has reason to cheer 

Posted by Sasha at 7:47 PM ET

By Michael Holtzman
Herald News Staff Reporter
Posted Nov 28, 2008 @ 08:56 PM
Fall River —

The SouthCoast Herald News: The former New England Patriots cheerleader, expecting premature triplets in the high-risk pregnancy unit of Women & Infants Hospital for a week, knew game time was drawing near.

Contractions were closer. She became dilated. And another clock was ticking.

It was past 11:30 p.m. on Nov. 23. On Nov. 24, 11 years ago, Cheryl Pavao of Fall River lost her father, Ronald Patenaude after a long bout of pancreatic cancer. At 49, he was well-known in the city, running a third-generation excavating business.

For the past 11 years, Nov. 24, about the time Thanksgiving would fall each year, ringing in the holidays, would be the worst day for the family and particularly for Joyce Patenaude, Ron’s widow. After he died, she never remarried.

Medical care for the 31-week-old preemies’ had focused on extending the delivery date as long as possible to increase their health chances. But as delivery drew very near, the family gathered together in a high-risk room of the Providence hospital, had a realistic hope the worst day of their lives might soon become the best.

Like a scene from Cinderella, the small plastic clock on the wall reached 11:45. As the time finally reached midnight, each family member was aware of the changing date, of their anxiety, even the oddity that the babies could be born on different dates.

One minute later, as City Councilor Michael B. Lund, Cheryl’s brother-in-law, told the story Friday, the clock fell off the wall. The same small clock like one would see in a school classroom, a clock they’d been looking at for a week.

“Nobody spoke,” Lund said. “They were like dead quiet. Then everybody broke down crying.”
Lund, who married Cheryl’s older sister Darlene nearly five years ago and benefited in his election this year from the Patenaude name, looked like he was going to cry retelling the story.
At 11:06 a.m. Monday, Nov. 24, some 11 hours later, the blessed event began, and three minutes later the Pavao triplets joined their mom and dad, Cheryl and Peter of Chicago Street, in the world.

Drew Peter Pavao, 2 pounds, 15 ounces, was born first, at 11:06; Leah Carmen Pavao, 2 pounds, 11 ounces, at 11:07; Madison Joy Pavao, 2 pounds, 10 ounces, at 11:09.

Nine weeks premature, they were born on the same day their grandpa Ron Pavao had died 11 years earlier.

“It was an incredible moment,” Joyce Pavao of Dartmouth said, no words seeming to capture her appreciation.

“I just wished,” she said quietly.

“That made it extra special,” Peter Pavao, the father, said. “If you weren’t religious before, you became religious.”

All three are thriving, only Drew requiring a respirator, which he shed Thanksgiving Day. “They’re progressing wonderfully,” their grandmother said.

On Friday afternoon, Cheryl Pavao, 33, a trained dancer who achieved local fame as a Patriots’ cheerleader for the last Pats team to win the Super Bowl in 2005, came home. She planned to return to the hospital later after resting up, a ritual that will continue, Joyce Patenaude said. They expect the babies will be home the first week in January.

For the parents, who have been together since they were teen-agers and married three years ago after Cheryl’s year cheering for the Super Bowl champions -- they’ve tried to raise a family since then. It’s been hard, and they endured two years of fertility intervention. Earlier this month, the mother had to be hospitalized with a collapsed kidney brought on by the triplets’ position.

Peter Pavao, a son of Humberto and Edvarda Pavao of Fall River, all of whom were born in Portugal and keep contact with family there, updated the new family website, www.pavaotriplets.com, on Thanksgiving Day.

“On this Thanksgiving, we have so much to be thankful for. Our babies are doing great and Cheryl is recovering every day. We are truly blessed and grateful for our family and friends and all your support,” he wrote.

“Thank you Women & Infants for the incredible loving care and service you provided. A special thanks to the maternal fetal medicine (high risk), Dr. Nicole Sprawk and the team of 19 in the OR for delivering our precious babies and caring for my beautiful and incredible wife,” Pavao wrote.
Four days after their birth, the father said, “I always thought Thanksgiving was about turkey and football... This made you think of life with a little different perspective.”

As of Friday, the Web site had more than 10,000 hits from all over the country and the world, the family said.

Other immediate family members include Peter Pavao’s brother, Rick, and Cheryl’s brother, Ron Jr.

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