For some young children, there are few things more exciting than discovering that their parents are having another baby. Six-year-old Mikey Marotta can certainly attest to that, as he became a big brother in March 2018. When he held his fragile sibling for the first time, however, mom Jessica was overcome with emotion.
Residents of Melrose, Massachusetts, Jessica and her husband, Michael Marotta, received an unexpected surprise a month into their engagement. Yes, they discovered that Jessica was pregnant with their first child. So there followed a whirlwind year in which the pair got married and then became parents to baby Mikey.
As their son started to get older, though, he had a very specific wish. “[Mikey] was always asking, ‘When am I going to get my baby brother?’” Jessica told People magazine in July 2018. “It’s really hard to get you a baby brother. So we’d just say, ‘When it’s time.’”
Jessica also tried to explain why Mikey was so enthusiastic about becoming an older sibling. “He just wanted to be a brother so badly, and he would see all his friends and schoolmates getting brothers, so I think that was hard for him,” she added. “But he really stuck it out.”
Jessica and Michael had, after all, been trying unsuccessfully for a second baby since 2015. And following a year of disappointment, the pair then sought help from a fertility specialist in the latter part of 2016. The pair subsequently discovered that Jessica needed to undergo surgery.
In September 2016, in fact, Jessica had fibroids – or non-cancerous growths – removed from her uterus. Then, just a few short months later, Jessica and Michael received some incredible news ahead of Christmas that year: Jessica was pregnant. And in a rather fitting twist, the couple got the news on Mikey’s fifth birthday.
Everything changed in January 2017, however, when Jessica noticed that she was bleeding. So, the following day, she and Michael traveled to their obstetrician’s office for an ultrasound, only to receive some devastating news. The mom had suffered a miscarriage. And after some tests, it was then discovered that the fetus had had a chromosomal issue known as trisomy 13.
Yet the pain didn’t end there, as Jessica’s obstetrician also confirmed that the fetus had been male. Despite that heartbreak, though, the couple refused to tell Mikey about what had happened. “We would never want him to be burdened with that sadness,” Jessica told People.
Losing the pregnancy naturally hit Jessica and her family hard. “It was something we had been trying for so long,” she continued. “Then we had the loss, we were devastated. I was heartbroken. We felt like we didn’t deserve what happened to us. But at the same time, it happens to so many people.”
Jessica and Michael therefore decided against trying for a second baby, feeling comfortable with their family unit as it was. However, things changed again in the summer of 2017, as the couple made an unexpected discovery. Incredibly, the mom was pregnant again.
“I was shocked that we were pregnant,” Jessica recalled to People. “But then we refused to get excited. We were so scared that we didn’t talk about it at all. We wanted to wait until we were out of the first trimester to tell our siblings.” As for Mikey, his parents finally told him the news when the pregnancy reached its 12th week.
Unsurprisingly, Mikey was delighted by the announcement. “He was very teary-eyed and excited,” Jessica said. “He was very emotional. [Mikey] wanted to know when the baby was going to come.” From there, the pregnancy seemingly progressed as normal as possible. But then there was a twist in the tale in January 2018.
That’s when Jessica got some bad news following an ultrasound at the hospital. She discovered, you see, that the baby was suffering from a condition known as Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR). And as a result of that, her unborn child was much smaller than it should’ve been at that stage of the pregnancy. Despite that diagnosis, though, the parents were determined to move forward as best they could.
So doctors kept a close eye on Jessica, and she underwent a number of ultrasounds to monitor the baby’s growth. When the mom approached her 31st week, however, she was told that she needed to have her child there and then. The physicians feared a stillbirth if they waited any longer.
Jessica consequently had an emergency caesarean, with baby Jake being delivered in March 2018. Due to the early birth, and the IUGR, he weighed just under two pounds. So, following the delivery, the doctors quickly transferred Jake to the neonatal intensive care unit, with his mom coming down to visit him soon after.
Mikey also saw his little brother that same day – but he couldn’t hold Jake following the birth. Instead, the six-year-old needed to wait a week before properly introducing himself. And at that point, the pair had their first face-to-face contact, which left Jessica incredibly emotional.
“It was very sweet,” Jessica told People. “[Mikey] was very excited. When he started holding Jake, he just giggled. It was a nervous giggle. He blinked a lot because he was really emotional.” And it wasn’t just Mikey that was moved. “It was probably one of the most emotional things I’ve ever seen without a lot of tears because he was so happy at the same time,” Jessica added.
Jessica returned home five days after the caesarean, but Jake spent over 60 days being cared for in the neonatal intensive care unit before rejoining his family. Since then, the baby has formed a heartwarming bond with his older brother, much to their mother’s delight.
Jessica told People, “[Mikey] loves [Jake] so much. He snuggles with him, he says the most beautiful things to him and tells him funny stories. Jake has brought a calmness to Mikey. Even if Jake’s screaming, Mikey comes over and tries to calm him down, soothe him. It’s very sweet.”
Jessica also believes that their bond will never be broken. “[Mikey] was made to be this big brother,” she continued. “The two of them together are pretty amazing. Mikey was the first one to make [Jake] smile. For a long time, he would only smile at Mikey. I truly think that they will be close for the rest of their lives.”