The Martinez Family

Pregnancy can be a beautiful experience; one that many families cherish when they learn they are expecting. It can also bring many unknowns and a great deal of uncertainty. After losing their first child, Jennifer and Jesus Martinez were filled with joy when they learned they were pregnant with their rainbow baby, Gabriel. What they didn’t expect was his early arrival. At 33 weeks, Jennifer recalls waking up at 7:00 am with contractions five minutes apart.“I called the doctor, and his response was that I was going into labor nearly two months before my due date,” said Jennifer. Jennifer and Jesus were in shock. The pregnancy had been normal prior to going into pre-term labor. After quickly packing a bag, the family rushed from their home in Sanford, NC to Chapel Hill where they checked into UNC Women’s Hospital. They arrived at 10:30 a.m. and by 3:15 p.m., Gabriel had made his entrance – 7 weeks before his due date and was admitted to the NICU.

Since Gabriel’s little body wasn’t developed enough to go home yet, the Martinez family was referred to the Ronald McDonald House. “We were so nervous and had no idea what to expect traveling to the Ronald McDonald House, but the transition was seamless, stress-free, and honestly, seemed too good to be true,” shared Jennifer. Both Jennifer and Jesus stayed at RMHCH for a little over three weeks while Gabriel received treatment in the NICU. He overcame jaundice and low blood sugar and was supported by a tube during his time at the hospital. “Having a place to stay and financially not having to worry about paying for an expensive hotel or driving every day to Chapel Hill was huge for us. We could focus solely on Gabriel and not have to worry about anything else but him,” said Jennifer.

During their stay, the Martinez family met the UNC basketball team one evening when the players visited the House and also participated in a few of the House’s family support activities. “Knowing the community was there to support people they didn’t even know was very special to us. It felt too good to be true receiving all of that support,” said Jennifer. Gabriel was born at 4lbs 9oz on October 16, 2021, and now at almost 5 months weighs over 13lbs. His parents say he loves to eat, is always smiling, and is very healthy. With a smile on her face, Jennifer said “Gabriel is our rainbow baby, and we are so thankful for him.”

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