Meet Mahria: Miracle Baby, Daughter and Little Sister

“The nurses at Valley Children’s gave me the strength to hold my fragile little girl and they have been our greatest supporters every step of the way. I will forever be thankful for them.”

– Manuel, Mahria's dad

Michelle was completely surprised when she learned she was expecting. Unable to contain her excitement, she immediately worked on a special way to break the news to soon-to-be two-time father, Manuel, along with their 4-year-old daughter, Maharazi. It was two days before Michelle’s birthday and this was the early gift she had dreamed of – to grow their family and give Maharazi a sibling.

In the weeks that followed, Michelle went to standard doctor visits, experienced common nausea and an increased appetite. Michelle saw her healthy baby for the first time during a 12-week ultrasound, and a 20-week anatomy scan on February 17, 2023 carried the excitement as she learned she was expecting a baby girl. While her little girl continued to measure just right and showed all signs of good health, Michelle’s doctor found that her cervix had thinned to a level that was equitable to someone at full term.

“This visit changed my life forever as I learned that an early labor would be inevitable,” explained Michelle. “I wasn’t worried about me, I was worried about my daughter because a delivery this early meant that it was unlikely she would make it. As her mom, I was committed to doing anything because I had to give my daughter a fighting chance.”

And that she did. In the weeks that followed, Michelle remained on bed rest and took every precaution necessary to hold on to her baby for as long as possible. The longer she remained pregnant, the better the chance for her little girl’s survival.

Mahria was born on March 26 at 25.5 weeks gestation by emergency C-section. She weighed 1.6 pounds and was immediately transported to Valley Children’s.

Mahria's mom and sister peer into her isolette
Mahria's mom and sister peer into her isolette in Valley Children's NICU

“The first two weeks while my wife was hospitalized were the hardest days of my life because in every moment, my heart was torn in three different directions – between my wife, my new baby and my older daughter,” said Manuel. “It was so hard to be brave for my girls, but the staff at Valley Children’s made it just a bit easier for me go come home because I felt confident that they were caring for my daughter in the NICU when I needed to check on my other girls. They gave me hope and made me believe there was light at the end of the tunnel.”

Mahria had been placed in an isolette to keep her safe and warm until her little body could regulate her body temperature by itself. She required a breathing tube for some time, but as she continued to grow and progress, she would learn how to control her body temperature, breathe and regulate her blood pressure all on her own.

Mahria, her mom, dad, and sister are all smiles
Mahria's mom, dad, and sister are all smiles

“Walking out of the hospital without my daughter was the hardest thing in life because I never imagined there would be so many barriers between me and my baby – it was my health, the distance, double doors into a NICU, a code and then an isolette – but when I was finally able to reconnect with Mahria, I felt great peace and gratitude knowing and seeing that she had such great care,” said Michelle. “For our entire stay, the care at Valley Children’s went beyond Mahria and extended to our entire family.”

Mahria’s family was there every day, and her big sister, Maharazi, attended the NICU's sibling class where she learned how to change her sister's diaper, take her blood pressure and temperature, and learned to swaddle and hold her. And after 81 days in the NICU, Mahria was healthy and ready to go home.

On September 26, Mahria celebrated her half-month birthday with her family, including Maharazi, who makes her laugh and smile all the time. Mahria loves the sound of her big sister’s voice, joining in on family discussions with her sweet babbling words and sucking on her little fingers.

Mahria's half birthday
Mahria celebrates her half-month birthday

“The nurses at Valley Children’s gave me the strength to hold my fragile little girl and they have been our greatest supporters every step of the way. I will forever be thankful for them,” added Manuel.

“When people ask, ‘How is your daughter is doing?’ it is with an extremely full heart and all the gratitude in the world, that I can say my daughter is well,” said Michelle. “While they were strangers, the nursing staff at Valley Children’s gave us what no one else could: the family we are today, which is more than I could have ever hoped and dreamed for.”


More About Valley Children's NICUs

Valley Children’s has four NICUs in the Central Valley, including at Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera (the only level IV NICU in the entire region), Adventist Health in Hanford, Mercy Medical Center in Merced and Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno. U.S. News & World Report also ranks Valley Children’s as one of the best children’s hospitals in the country in seven pediatric specialties, including Neonatology. Valley Children’s is also a Magnet®-recognized organization demonstrating excellence in nursing practice and quality patient care. Our expert transport team provides nearly 800 neonatal transports a year, delivering the most experienced, life-saving care in the region. Learn more about Valley Children's NICUs >>