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On September 4th, 2012, Mariann was scheduled for her normal check-up with her OBGYN. Unfortunately, during this check-up, Mariann was diagnosed with preeclampsia. She was admitted into the hospital immediately, placed on bed rest, and started treatment with antihypertensives. She was also placed on anticonvulsant medications, such as magnesium sulfate to prevent seizures. While Mariann experienced mild contraction discomforts for two weeks during her stay, she also received strong steroid shots called corticosteroid injections. These injections are used to help with the baby’s lung development. Her OBGYN’s goal was to keep Mariann in the hospital until she reached 32 weeks and deliver through C-section; however, the baby’s heart rate started to drop repeatedly. With mommy and baby getting worse, Mariann spoke with a specialist and made the decision to have an emergency C-Section. On September 18th, 2012, Mariann gave birth to her first and only son – Maison Alexander Jerkins (Shaw), weighing 10 pounds and 12 ounces (after he water weight – 1 pound and 10 ounce.

Mariann stepped into a unique motherhood. This motherhood was restricted with touch times, bond times (also known as kangaroo care), and nursing times. She didn’t experience the power of birth, with her son emerging into the world and being gently placed on her chest. Mariann didn’t get the chance to let out an emotional cry once her son arrived into the world. Instead of crying and laughing with joy, while her doctor worked to stich her up, Mariann laid completely still and prayed for her son to breathe. The nurse and doctors informed Mariann, “He’s not going to cry, because he’s too tiny and needs oxygen.” Mariann continued to pray, closed her eyes and responded, “Yes he will. Come on and cry baby.” Suddenly, there was a tiny cry from the corner that filled the room. Mariann smiled, “There you go baby. Hey Maison…”

Through the neonatal journey, Maison taught Mariann how to “fight” life. He taught her how to soar during adversity and tribulation, how to smile when there was pain and uncertainty. During her neonatal journey, she was unemployed and limited in every area of her life; which made each trip to the hospital a miracle. Interestingly, Mariann never questioned the process, instead she worked very hard at being positive, staying busy, and focusing on her new baby boy. After Maison was discharged and finally home, Mariann couldn’t stop thinking about the families she connected with in the NICU. Her heart was home and yet, a piece of it was still at the hospital.  In February 2014, Mariann became the Founder of Maison Alexander Support Group Inc.

 “I know first-hand the journey can be overwhelming. One minute everything is perfect and your baby is passing everything with flying colors. Suddenly, there’s a bad day and it feels like you’re starting all over again. The baby had too much stimulation from a busy day or nursing from a bottle was too much for them, so now they’re back on room air or oxygen. Going home seems to be forever away and you feel helpless. You’re a new parent and trying to process it all is too much. I never really questioned the process, just myself. Is this my fault? What did I do wrong? Could I have avoided all of this and if so, how? Even though I didn’t have the answers, I never quit. I didn’t have a choice, I couldn’t quit. Because quitting was not only confirmation of giving up, but I would have given up on my son. I would have given up on life. So, I did the best I could and pushed through. It wasn’t until Maison came home that my perspective shifted. On our first day home together, I stared at him thinking, “Oh God, how in the world am I going to do this?” That’s when it hit me! There’s no rule that says we must conquer everything all at once. There’s no rule that demands perfection. You just take each day, each step and each moment at one step at a time. My mind flash-backed to the days in the NICU and I heard, “What did you do, Mariann? You trusted God and took each day one step at a time.” And with each step, know that God is with you. He sees your situation and He hears your prayers. With this life altering experience, my friend, you are not alone. You will get through this, one step at a time.” ~ Mariann 

Maison Alexander Jerkins (Shaw), born September 18th due to preeclampsia, weighing 10 pounds and 12 ounces (after he water weight – 1 pound and 10 ounce.