When Ramya Banda and her husband, Bala Bhimavarapu, MD, a pediatric hospitalist at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis in Wichita, Kansas, decided to have a family, she had no idea that she was about to embark on the toughest journey of her life.

But it was a battle made easier, Ramya said, thanks to compassionate and professional care and advocacy by Ascension Via Christi Medical Group OB-GYN Janey Maki, MD; the wisdom and thoughtful guidance of Michael Wolfe, MD; and the “incredible care” provided by the entire Ascension Via Christi labor and delivery team. “I am forever in their debt for giving us the best gift of our life,” she said.

On Ramya’s 30th birthday, she went to see Dr. Maki for a 24-week routine scan.

“As I looked at the scan images and saw tiny little arms, the emotions I felt cannot be explained,” she said, as the ultrasound technician asked maternal-fetal medicine specialist Dr. Wolfe to come in for a consult. Realizing that something that was not right, Ramya asked, “What’s wrong with my baby?”

Dr. Wolfe said her baby was doing fine, but that with no measurable cervix left, she could deliver at any time. She was given medications to prevent her from going into labor, beginning what she described as a “four-month journey of anxiety, depression, panic and bedrest.”

She spent eight weeks as an inpatient in the NewLife Center at Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph, getting out of bed only to eat, shower or use the bathroom.

She and her care team established short-term goals, first to reach 28 weeks, then 32, at which time she was discharged to home on bedrest and began returning to the hospital every Monday for follow-up.

“It was during those months of my life we truly felt grateful for life itself and for those little things we otherwise take for granted,” Ramya said. “Above all I felt grateful for the life that was still beautifully growing and breathing inside me.

“During this journey I realized an individual’s strength is not in perfecting themselves. It is found in the moments, the minutes, the seconds when we are struggling. Some days we fall, crash and cry, some days we rise high and fight it all. Our greatest strength lies in our ability to hope, dream and trust, in even the direst circumstances, and firmly believing we can rise above it.”

The couple’s daughter, Diya, was delivered at 38 weeks and five days, leaving Ramya grateful for her doctors, her husband, and the other family and friends who stood by her, reminding her of her strength and reassuring her.

Today, 15 months later, they are parents to a happy, healthy toddler.

“Strength is not in keeping it all together, it is admitting that life is hard and it may or may not be what we expected it to be,” Ramya wrote in a tribute sent to her care team. “Each one us is born with the innate ability to fight and not quit until the end. We just have to find that determination for the battle. My determination to save my daughter was far stronger and greater than any obstacles.”