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A Preemie’s Story

A mother’s traumatic labor as she welcomed her rainbow baby into this world

Here at Access Health, we want to share the stories of families who have triumphed from health complications. Today, on World Prematurity Day (Nov. 17), we bring you a family who experienced the hardships of a very early pregnancy but made it through.

Paola and Matthew Mantilla couldn’t wait to have children since the day they were married in November of 2016. Twice they tried but were only met with heartbreak. After an empty sac and a miscarriage, the couple decided to get tested to find out if something was wrong with either or both of their chances of fertility.

The month before their appointment date, Paola took a pregnancy test, and it was miraculously positive. The couple was very excited to bring a new life into the world.

Baby and mom2

One Wednesday, I had to stop to lay down because I felt extremely tired. I had started swelling that week and thought it was normal since I was now 30 weeks pregnant and in the 3rd trimester. I was in bed for about 2 hours when I noticed the baby was not moving.”

After talking to her OB, they rushed to the hospital to make sure everything was okay. While the ultrasound showed the baby in perfect condition, her blood pressure was another story. Till this day, I believe the Lord allowed me to feel weird just to get me to come into the hospital.”

Paola had developed preeclampsia, a potentially deadly pregnancy complication that is characterized by high blood pressure, hence the swelling and extreme fatigue she had experienced earlier that week. She stayed in the hospital for observation, and on the morning of her discharge, she woke up with a severe headache. “It escalated very quickly, I was now on my bed, screaming, crying and holding on to the bed rails trying to will the headache to go away. The nurse refused to take my blood pressure until I ‘calmed down’ and said that either way, there was nothing she could do but give me an ice pack and water because I had already had Tylenol 2 hours prior.” While her nurse brushed it off, Paola and Matthew knew something was wrong and immediately called her OB. Instantly, her hospital room flooded with doctors.

The NICU director told Paola that she would be going into induced labor and that she would have an emergency C-Section. At 30 weeks, her baby was coming into the world that very day!

“Once the surgery began, I felt EVERYTHING. The pressure of the incision, the moving around of the organs, the pulling and tugging. I don’t know if I was in shock or if it truly was the pain, but I could not hold back from screaming. Everything in the room was complete chaos until my son was born. I heard his cry, so soft and far away, but so full of life. My husband was allowed to come close to take pictures and then he left to follow the baby. They called to me to look over to my left as my son was being rolled away in the incubator. So tiny and red. I woke up later in recovery. It all happened so fast. It felt like a lifetime ago I had been at home planning my baby shower. Now there I laid, no longer pregnant and in immense pain. The sadness and sense of mourning was overwhelming and instant. I was mourning the end of my pregnancy, the birth I had dreamed of and the sweet moments most moms share with their newborns right when they come into this world.”


When Zayn was born, Paola didn’t get to hold or meet him. She had to wait a day to meet him, and another three days to hold him. He graduated from the NICU after 36 days.

“The NICU days were long and difficult but by the grace of God, our baby is now home, thriving and with no complications. I no longer suffer from high blood pressure and have healed from this difficult experience. His birth was traumatic, unexpected and by no means what any mom would want—but it brought us our perfect son. The rainbow after the storm.”

Approximately 380,000 babies are born prematurely in the United States every year. Mothers, know that you are not alone in your struggles, be it difficult pregnancies or every day obstacles. We encourage you to share your stories to show other women that they too have a place to find support.




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