When she was born she weighed 860 grams. The USG examination showed she had no kidneys and bladder and she was supposed to live several hours at the most.
Joanna and Jacek Wrona from Czestochowa believe that their youngest child was saved through the intercession of John Paul II whom they zealously begged for help. They have been married for 13 years; their elder daughters Dominika and Wiktoria go to school. The Wronas live in modest conditions, in a room and kitchen. Jacek works in the police. He lectures in the Higher Police School in Szczytno, comes home for weekends. 'At first my husband worked here, in Czestochowa, but he was never at home since work in the police is service and not a regular job', Joanna says. She is a housewife. She gave up studying Romance languages after Dominika had been born. She chose what she thought was the most important thing.
It is not doctors that decide about life
Joanna says she knew about Gloria's life almost from the very beginning, she felt differently than when she expected the other daughters. 'I was under the supervision of a specialist. Apparently nothing was wrong but I felt some things were not right.' That was such sixth mother's sense.
During the second half of the sixth month she was alert when the baby's movements were weak. Examination in hospital, visit to a specialist and his suggestion that she should contact the clinic since the baby had arrhythmia. Her husband took her to the Central Clinic of the Silesian Medical Academy in Katowice. The USG examination showed small volume of foetal waters and hypotrophy of the baby whose growth had stopped a few weeks before. The weight was to be 468 grams. 'They did not try to conceal that the situation was serious. I was to undergo detailed examination in several days. I was impressed by the care and professional knowledge of the professor who examined me but I broke down when I heard the diagnosis', Joanna says. 'I was crying on the way back home. My husband said, 'Don't cry. The professor may be the champion in his specialization but he does not decide about life'. She wrote in her notes, 'Since that moment I have been praying to the Holy Father John Paul II asking him to save our child. Every day I put his picture over my belly. In the picture there is the text of prayer and his handwriting 'The Holy Father held this picture and blessed the sick in Krakow at the Wawel Cathedral on 22 June 1983'. Nine days later Joanna went to hospital, to the ward of pregnancy pathologies in the Katowice Clinic. The USG examination showed that the waters disappeared completely but the daughter, in spite of those hard conditions, doubled in weight in the last 9 days. She weighted 860 grams. Joanna was to undergo amnioinfussion, i.e. to increase the volume of the waters. The next day the professor asked me to talk to him and informed me that there were complications with the placenta', Joanna says. Unfortunately, the doctor also said that the baby had no kidneys and bladder, which made it impossible to live outside the mother's organism. She was proposed to have Caesarean section and was to decide about it. Another USG showed that the waters disappeared again and the pregnancy could not be continued.
'I had a moment of crisis. I asked the Mother of God for strength to accept what was inevitable. I told the doctors that before taking a decision I wanted to talk to the chaplain and receive the Holy Communion. It was 9.00 am, and the chaplain was to come about ca. 11. Another USG examination was made. It was confirmed that the baby had no kidneys and bladder, it had inflated intestines, megacardia and the heart ventricles do not work properly with the auricles. My conservation with the two Franciscans who visited the ward was long. Then Joanna also spoke on the phone to the Franciscan specialist in ethics Fr Mieczyslaw Wnekowicz.
'After a few moments of our talk Fr Mieczyslaw said that he felt that the operation would be successful. He took the relics of St Theresa of the Child Jesus and prayed with me. The talk was like an impulse; I consented to have the operation. I asked him to baptise my daughter just after her birth, naming her Gloria Maria. I chose the name when I offered my daughter to Mary at Jasna Gora'.
Awaking. My husband and mother at my bed. They say that the child is alive. 'My physical pain is nothing as compared with my fear for Gloria'. Joanna wrote down one of her thoughts she directed to Jesus that night, 'You do not give man a cross that he cannot carry. So with your help I will overcome all these difficulties and experiences'.
'Next day some doctor entered my room and said that she was a paediatrist and I should not have too much hope but some amazing things happened to my child. There were drops of urine, so the bladder exists and at least one kidney. Furthermore, Gloria breathes herself, without the help of the respirator, which is usually impossible with a 28-week old child, weighing 860 grams.'
The girls spent 71 days in hospital, 62 days in the incubator. In her 11-day of life she caught Staphylococcus aureus, and had severe sepsis. It seemed that her life was over but the little girl overcame the illness after two weeks, which surprised all doctors.
'Every day I travelled 80 km from Czestochowa to Katowice to leave the milk from my breasts', Joanna recollects. 'I knew that was the most important thing for her. The baby was artificially fed. 'I was allowed to touch her when she was already 38 days old. Then I put the picture of the Holy Father John Paul II over her head.'
One should share love
The chart I received when leaving hospital was not optimistic: first and second degree cerebravascular bleeding, brain ventribular cyst, six impaired elements in hearing, second degree retinopathy and a large umbilical hernia', Joanna says. 'But the most important thing is that we had her at home, that she suck my breasts as if she wanted to catch up for the lost time when she was separated with her family.'
Joanna writes further medical appointments to her calendar: neonatologist, orthopaedist, neurologist, eye doctor, and laryngologist. Supervised by a physiotherapist she learns to massage. She carefully massages the little belly of her child to avoid an operation of the hernia. Gloria makes fast progress and finally it turns out she is healthy and does not need any operations. Joanna recollects the words she heard in her heart when she expected the worst things and waited in the operation theatre, 'After birth labour comes motherly joy.' 'Gloria has brought joy and happiness to our home. She did not disturb me in anything. She went with me when I took Wiktoria and Dominika to school or swimming pool. We like activities. And we did not keep Gloria wrapped in cotton wool. We took her to Zywiec, to Podhale, and Hungary. During recent winter break we went to Krakow, Wadowice and Zakopane', Joanna says.
During the winter holiday Monika, 13-year-old handicapped girl from the care centre, joined the Wrona family. 'I saw her on television in January', Joanna says, 'I thought that somebody had to love this child who does not ask for a computer or for toys but she asks for love. Why not us? I talked to my husband who looked for Monika. We had been thinking about adopting a disabled child before Gloria was born. We talked to Monika on the phone several times. We asked her if she wanted to go on holiday with us. We hope that our family will enlarge soon when we adopt Monika.'
What about finances? 'I remember John Paul II saying that the biggest poverty children suffer is not material poverty but lack of family', Joanna says. 'We wanted to have a big family. Since I am at home I can spend money in an economical way. I wonder when I hear how young women grumble that upbringing costs so much. Gloria sleeps in the same bed where her sisters slept and earlier my brother and myself. Perhaps it is advertising that makes parents believe that a child needs expensive clothes and toys. Whereas a child needs our wise love and prayer.
The testimony of Joanna and Jacek Wrona was published in issue 8, 2006 of 'Totus Tuus', monthly promoted by the Postulation of the Vicariate of Rome, concerns the cause for beautification and canonisation of the Servant of God John Paul II.