Children have so many dreams when they’re young and unaware of life’s limits; some want to be superheroes, others dancers, power rangers, famous athletes. Having big dreams and believing you’re invincible is all part of being a kid.
For one little boy in Massachusetts, called Mikey, all he wanted was be a big brother. But that didn’t come easy for his parents, and the tough journey they went on to have a second child had many ups and downs.
His mom Jessica Marotta said that ever since Mikey could speak he had been asking for a baby brother — it was all he could think about. When Mikey was three, his parents started trying for another baby, but things were simply not working out for them.
After seeing a fertility specialist and going through surgery, Jessica found out she was pregnant on Mikey’s 5th birthday. He was, of course, thrilled. But just one month later, Jessica began experiencing complications and lost her baby at 11 weeks.
“It took my breath away. Mikey had gotten his baby brother, except now he was our angel baby,” said Jessica.
Jessica and her husband decided they didn’t want to go through that kind of heartache again.They were content to stay a family of three.
The ray of hope
She added: “After that, every time Mikey asked for his baby brother, we would explain to him that there may be a chance that he may never get a baby brother. It broke our hearts to say these words to him, but we found a way to settle into a life just the three of us in our new home and enjoy our summer.”
On Mikey’s first day of kindergarten, Jessica found herself crying. She simply felt that something wasn’t quite right.
“I knew something was off, but I did not want to get too excited. I waited until the weekend and I had my husband pick up a pregnancy test. I took the test and waited in the bathroom alone for the result. My husband could hardly believe it and made me take two more tests just to be sure. We were excited but cautious.”
Jessica was pregnant again!
Tests revealed that the baby was a boy. Once again, they were thrilled to deliver the news to Mikey.
But their baby was not growing at the rate it should have been and doctors told them they might consider terminating the pregnancy. However, the family refused to give up on their dream.
Jessica explained: “During my one month in antepartum, the baby gave us three scares that he was going to arrive, but we made it to 30 weeks and 6 days. I had a growth ultrasound that day and the baby had only gained two grams in two weeks. The doctor told us, ‘we are going to have a baby today,’ and explained that if we waited any longer we would risk a stillborn.”
The planned cesarean section quickly morphed into an emergency procedure, with the baby’s heart rate plummeting due to the anaesthesia. Fortunately, it didn’t take long before baby Jake Eric arrived weighing 1 pound, 12 ounces, and measuring just 12 inches.
“Once I recovered a bit, I was wheeled on my stretcher to see him and his smallness took my breath away and my eyes filled with tears. That night my in-laws brought Mikey to see me and we told him he finally had his baby brother, Jake. The first time Mikey saw him, he beamed and said, ‘He has red hair just like me!’”
As Jessica’s husband had to return to work and Mikey to school, Jessica stayed by her newborn’s side, unable to touch him unless she was assisting the nurse in changing his diaper and taking his temperature. It was a testing time for the family, one riddled with scares.
The one thing that got them through this challenging ordeal was when they could snuggle with Jake skin-to-skin. Jessica would sit in the chair and both she and Jake would unwind.
It also was a beautiful time for Mikey; he was finally able to touch his baby brother. He couldn’t hold him just yet though, which really bothered him.
“He wanted more than anything to hold his baby brother. Mikey was filled with sadness that he could not hold his baby brother. During one of my daily rounds with Jake’s nurses and doctors on day 10, I asked if Mikey could do skin-to-skin with his baby brother, fully expecting them to say no. I was beyond thrilled when they agreed!”
On March 17, 2018, Mikey became the first sibling at the Beth Israel NICU in Boston to be allowed to sit skin-to-skin with his baby. Jessica described it as “amazing and emotional”.
Baby Jake was taken home after 62 days in NICU and Mikey has since proven himself to be a truly amazing brother. Every morning, the siblings snuggle together in their mom’s bed. She said she feels honored to witness their love and their strong relationship.
Mikey and Jake were clearly meant to be brothers. What a special little boy Mikey is; Jake is so lucky to have such love around him. Please share this story of hope and happiness with your friends and family.