Sisterhood of Angel Mama’s Magazine | October 2021

Kaylee Runille Manuel

Written & Photos by JoBeth Manuel

I am JoBeth and my husband is Ryan Manuel. We have been together since 2016 married in 2019. We conceived in late 2020.  I was 23 weeks pregnant. We made it past the first trimester. Everything was fine. Our baby waved at us, moved around like a dancer, and had a great heartbeat at her appointments. It was 2021 so covid rules were one person the entire time. 

  On Thursday 13, 2021 I had woken up for work and went straight to the bathroom. I always checked when I wiped because I wanted to make sure everything was okay.  I seen a tiny drop of blood. My family and friends said it’s nothing to worry about but if I feel like I needed to make an appointment to go ahead. I was so scared because I have anxiety. I made an appointment online since no one answered the phone at the doctors office. After making the appointment, I drove forty five minutes to the doctors office. When I walked in, they told me that I accidentally made the appointment for the following Thursday but my midwife Amy stated that she will make time to see me. She told me that normally it should be a spoon full of blood before coming into the office and that the tiny spots of blood is normal. She checked my membrane right away and then she ran out the room to get a stretcher to transport me to labor and delivery. My husband was at home getting ready for work because we didn’t think anything was wrong but my anxiety told me that something was wrong. They laid me back with my legs up and took me upstairs. When we got to labor and delivery, they hooked me up to machines and told the nurse to call my husband. The nurses kept me calm until my husband arrived. As soon as my husband walked into room, I felt an instant relief. I was told that I had an incompetent cervix and that my cervix failed at holding my baby in. 

We waited for doctors and nurses to arrive from another hospital in Peoria, IL to perform my emergency C section, we were in Galesburg IL. Ryan called off of work and my sister and his parents came to the hospital and sat in the car since they couldn’t come in because of COVID but they were still there to support us. After 20 minutes my back started hurting like crazy. The doctors and nurses told me that I was having labor back pain so I started doing breathing exercises and talking until it was time for me to go into labor. I was given an epidural while laying down because  our baby Manuel was breach and had fallen out of me at 23 weeks. We didn’t get a chance to find out the gender of our baby. I was numb and felt like I wasn’t breathing. I kept asking if I was breathing because breathing is so important.  They kept reminding me that if I’m talking, I’m breathing. 

My anesthesiologist name was Pete. We loved watching and reading Pete the Cat to our baby. One of the videos I like was White Shoes so I asked the anesthesiolgist Pete what color was his shoes to distract me from thinking about what was going on. He was so confused but told me they were brown and I explained to him why I asked that question. I told Ryan that I was glad that we were in a surgical room because if his shoes weren’t brown like Pete the cat, he would have mud on them. 

We finally heard “It’s a girl!” Ryan had a feeling that we was having a girl. He told me that he was right. We started crying and decided to name our baby girl Kaylee. Dad got to see Kaylee first and showed momma a photo. Kaylee was born at 11:36 am weighing a pound and 12 ounces. 

  While they was taking me to my room, I started shaking very badly. They brought Kaylee into the room to see me before they transported her to another hospital. She waved at me like she did in her ultrasounds. They told me since Ryan was going to follow Kaylee they would let my sister aka mom come in. I called my sister my mom because she raised me after my parents passed away.

 I healed quickly  and was discharged the next morning. We went home to pack our bags and to grab something to eat with our family before going to see our baby Kaylee at the hospital. When we arrived to the NICU, we washed our hands and I took the nail polish of my finger nails and talked with the social worker. Since it was Friday, we got to stay in the NICU for the weekend and connected with the Ronald McDonald House and Young House. We were offered a bed in their rooms but we did not want to leave our baby girl’s side. We slept on the sofa and chair, waking up to Kaylee making sounds. She had some rough nights. We got to help with care and diaper changes. Her firsts were also in the same day as her lasts. She held onto our fingers and had glasses on her eyes that weren’t open to protect them from the Jaundice blue light. She even had bubble wrap. The best gifts are wrapped in bubble wrap to protect them.

They told us Saturday morning that she was going to start donor milk in a day unless I could produce. I only produced enough for her to taste on a cotton swab and she suckled her lips. She was being fed a nutrient the doctor made just for her. Ryan went to call his doctor and as soon as he came back, we was told that Kaylee may possibly have bleeding in her brain and an air pocket in her heart. They stated that we had to make a difficult decision for our baby girl Kaylee. She would have had cerebral palsy, she wouldn’t be able to dance, or create art and that was our dream for her. We had to think about  all options they explained to us. 

While picking up Ryan’s medication, we updated our family on Kaylee’s condition. When we got back to the hospital, they did another x – ray on Kaylee and told us to make a decision. Since she didn’t have much time left, her aunt and grandparents got to meet her. Our pastor was able to baptize her. She wore a cute gown and had a cute blanket that were perfectly made by donors. She even had a purple butterfly cloth diaper. We held and kissed her, gave her a bath,  and changed her diaper. We watched her take her first and last breathe and we told her stories.  Dad’s heart beat was so strong for the both of them, she passed in his arms. She had lost .6 pounds and we said our goodbyes. It was so hard for us to leave our babygirl. 

  The next day we spent time with our family until we made funeral arrangement for our baby girl Kaylee. Her funeral was beautiful! We read “Oh the places you’ll go baby” and played “I like my white shoes” by Pete the Cat. Our friends and preschoolers even sang along to Pete the Cat. We shared our memories of her and had beautiful flowers and an urn. So many people sent their thoughts and prayers to us that we were on over 20 prayer lists at different churches. Our family, friends, small community and strangers are so supportive. We are so thankful for them. It’s been rough for us, we have good and bad days. We see butterflies and think of our daughter Kaylee Runille. Those two days of her life were short but filled with so many memories.  

Incompetent cervix, also called a cervical insufficiency, occurs  when weak cervical tissue causes or contributes to premature birth or the loss of an otherwise healthy pregnancy. Incompetent cervix occurs in about 1 in 100 pregnancies. Before pregnancy, cervix, the lower part of the uterus that opens to the vagina is normally closed and firm. 


Sensation of pelvic pressure

New backache

Mild abdominal cramps

A change in vaginal discharge

Light vaginal bleeding

The most common treatment for incompetent cervix is a procedure called a cerclage. A doctor will sew a stitch around the weakened cervix to make it stronger. This reinforcement may help a pregnancy last longer. Doctors usually perform a cerclage at 12 to 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Incompetent cervix is not routinely checked for during pregnancy and therefore is not usually diagnosed until after the second or third trimester, miscarriage has occurred. Women can be evaluated before pregnancy, or in early pregnancy by ultrasound if they have any of the factors that are potential causes of incompetent cervix. Diagnosis can be made by your physician though a pelvic exam or by an ultrasound. The ultrasound would be used to measure the cervical opening or the length of the cervix.

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