When Marinah Lucio found out she was pregnant, she got a big shock. Marinah already had two boys at home, and she and her husband were trying for their third, but God had other plans for this pregnancy. She found out she would be having twin girls.
“Finding out we were having twins was a real shocker,” explains Marinah. “We were excited because we were trying for our third and we got our third and fourth.”
This pregnancy was already significantly different than the one with her boys. She remembers how her first two pregnancies were really easy. She was never sick with her boys, but with this one she really struggled in her first trimester.
“This one really rocked me. I mean it was just so different,” Marinah remembers. “I would take three naps a day. I was just so tired and really nauseous.”
Other than the normal pregnancy symptoms, Marinah’s first trimester went pretty smoothly and the babies were developing normally. At 19 weeks, that all changed. During Marinah’s scheduled anatomy exam, she learned she had a short cervix.
“My cervix was extremely short according to my doctor. A normal cervix is supposed to be between three to five centimeters and mine was 0.6,” said Marinah.
There are generally two treatment options for a short cervix. For some women, a doctor may recommend a cerclage. This is a stitch in the cervix that reinforces it, reducing the risk of pregnancy loss or preterm labor. In Marinah’s case, her cervix was too short for a cerclage, so the doctor sent her home and put her on bedrest for two weeks.
At 21 weeks, things really began to change. At Marinah’s next appointment, she learned she had no cervix at all. The maternal fetal medicine (MFM) doctor she was seeing told her there was nothing they could do for her and sent her home.
“They couldn’t do anything and they didn’t want to admit me—absolutely nothing,” explains Marinah. “I felt so defeated like no one wanted to help save these babies.”
Soon after that appointment, she was admitted to the hospital because she was dilated to four centimeters. Because the hospital was not equipped to handle such premature twins, she was transferred to The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio where they have the highest level of NICU care for babies. The doctor’s goal would be to watch Marinah closely and keep those babies in as long as possible.
When Marinah arrived at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, she met two doctors from The Center for Maternal and Fetal Care who watched Marinah very closely.
“I saw two of the MFMs when I first arrived at the hospital. They were extremely sweet,” remembers Marinah. “I felt very comfortable with them and felt hopeful because they were at least trying to help me and listen to me. It was so different than my original MFM who couldn’t give me any information or direction. I went from feeling defeated to feeling like I might actually get to meet my baby girls.”
At 23 weeks on October 7, 2020, Marinah was no longer able to keep the babies in. That week, she begged the MFMs to let her go home, but they were adamant she stay in the hospital and that turned out to be the right decision.
“The labor happened so quickly,” recalls Marinah. “At 3 p.m. I started having contractions and by 9 p.m. the girls were delivered. It was very traumatizing, but the nurses and everyone there were so supportive. I felt in such great hands with the nurses I had.”
Because the girls, name Gianna and Isabella, were considered micro-preemies, they were immediately rushed to the NICU where they would spend 125 days growing and getting strong enough to go home.
Marinah remembers those first few days in the NICU, “In the beginning, it was hard. We were holding our breath for the first few weeks. Sadly, Gianna struggled in her first days of life and passed away at 12 days old. I just wanted to hold her. The entire staff was so understanding and compassionate. They just helped me hold her and give her to me and give me that time which I am so thankful for.”
Marinah knew she had to remain strong for Isabella who would remain in the NICU and continue to fight. Marinah remembers the NICU being a roller coaster but was thankful Isabella didn’t have to endure any surgeries. She really got to know her nursing staff and was grateful for all they did for Isabella.
“The nurse who made the ladybug outfit for Isabella was the best nurse ever. I could tell she really cared about my daughter,” said Marinah. “One time Isabella wasn’t tolerating me touching her and her heart rate and oxygen would drop. This nurse would tell me, ‘I know you want to touch her, but you have to stop.’ I knew she was protecting Isabella and you could tell that she loved and cared for her as her own.”
On February 9, Isabella was finally cleared to go home.
“I was just so happy. Coming in, I was pregnant with both of my girls and I had to leave with just one, but she was healthy,” explain Marinah. “She did come home on a small amount of oxygen but started to thrive when she got home. She is close to nine pounds and eating like a champ. She is breastfeeding and gaining weight like she should be and she has her two brothers who absolutely love her.”
Marinah is grateful for the support and guidance she received from the MFMs, OBs and the nurses she had at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. What started out as a story of defeat ended with a story filled with hope, love and a healthy baby girl.
If you experience complications during your pregnancy, please talk to your doctor about a referral to the Centers for Maternal Fetal Care. We offer three convenient locations with a team of compassionate and experienced physicians. Visit our website for more information at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Centers for Maternal Fetal Care.