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There are many pregnancy side effects that, while unpleasant, are commonplace and typically not cause for concern: nausea, fatigue and bloating, to name a few. Swollen feet and headaches are also not unheard of, but when Gabriella Macchiarolo’s feet were so swollen she could barely walk and her headaches were so intense they were making her dizzy, she knew there was cause for concern.

At her 35-week checkup, Macchiarolo’s doctors and nurses confirmed her worst fear: she had severe preeclampsia, a potentially fatal pregnancy complication, and she needed to give birth that day, five full weeks before her due date.

“They came back and said, ‘Okay…let’s get you robed and ready…you need to have this baby.’ My heart dropped (and) I said, ‘Uhhhh, can I call my husband?’ It was like someone was playing a joke on me,” Macchiarolo wrote on a GoFundMe page detailing her experience.

Her husband, Marco Island Fire-Rescue EMT Nick Macchiarolo, rushed to the hospital as soon as he got her call, and shortly after his arrival the medical team attempted to induce labor.

“I was induced by three different methods that didn't work. I was zero percent dilated the entire time and four hours later I was having strong-ish contractions, but every time they checked me, I was getting nowhere,” Macchiarolo wrote.

Twelve hours later, Macchiarolo still had not had her baby and she was in extreme pain, alternating between severe contractions and seizures.

“I was going into shock and having shaking seizures,” she wrote. “Nick would be talking to me trying to keep me awake and I would doze off and black out and then wake up. It was very scary. I told Nick, ‘If I don't give birth in the next hour, I don't think I can go through with this .. .I don't know what to do .. .I think I'm going to die.’”

Eventually, the medical team decided to deliver the baby via C-section and the operation went smoothly, a huge relief for the Macchiarolos.

“I was talking with Nick, making sighs of relief, making jokes with the doctor,” Macchiarolo wrote. “I heard Cash cry and the lady put him by my face for 10 seconds and that was all I needed; I fell in love with a human that was less than a minute old.”

But the family wasn’t in the clear yet; a medevac team had to immediately fly Cash and his father to Miami Children’s Hospital where doctors determined that the newborn would have to undergo three open heart surgeries and upwards of four non-invasive heart surgeries over the course of the next two to three years. 

That was nearly a year ago and now, with many already surgeries under his belt, baby Cash is doing well, no doubt in part due to the support of the Marco Island community: Katie O'Hara of the Chamber of Commerce set up a GoFundMe page to help with Cash's medical expenses; the Marco Island Fire Foundation has hosted several fundraisers; and many others on the island have given their time, money and well wishes to the Macchiarolo family.

"The amount of love and support that baby Cash has been getting is beyond what Nick and I have ever thought," Macchiarolo wrote. "I wish there was a way that we could thank each and every one of you personally...one of these days we will figure it out."

There will be a fundraiser for baby Cash this weekend at La Tavola Restaurant. The fundraiser will feature live music, a 50/50 raffle and silent auction.

IF YOU GO

Benefit for Baby Cash

When: July 9, 2 – 6 p.m.

Where: La Tavola, 961 Winterberry Drive

Cost: $25 for an all-you-can-eat buffet

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