After two years of no periods, countless doctors’ appointments and testing, Monica was told she and her husband, Alex, would need to pursue fertility treatments in order to have a biological child. Despite having always wanted to be parents, Monica and Alex decided to wait on fertility treatments and focus on other areas of their lives. It was devastating. Imagine their shock when a routine monthly pregnancy test came back positive only a few months later!

Monica’s pregnancy progressed normally at first, despite a rough bout of morning sickness. Their son, whom they would name Otis, was healthy. Monica finally wasn’t throwing up anymore. She dove headfirst into researching every type of birth possible, ultimately settling on a hospital birth at a regional hospital only 7 minutes away from their house. She found a midwife and OB-GYN she got on with and trusted. But something changed towards the beginning of her third trimester. She began to feel generally unwell, was gaining weight rapidly and swelling up. Her labs were normal, she had low blood pressure, and there was no protein in her urine. Fundal height measurements consistently 5-6 weeks ahead of where her baby was in growth and development didn’t seem to alarm her doctors.

Monica trudged on into the 30th, 31st, and 32nd weeks of her pregnancy feeling anxious, overwhelmed, and ill. At a friend’s wedding the last week of July, people were shocked to learn that despite looking like she was due any day with twins, Monica wasn’t due until the end of September. None of the books she had read, or research she had so meticulously done, had prepared her for how sick and self-conscious she was feeling in the moment.

preeclampsia life flight

On August 6th, a Tuesday, Monica’s membranes ruptured at 33 weeks and 1 day. The regional hospital wasn’t equipped to delivery preterm babies, so she was medevaced by helicopter to a larger hospital an hour away. After three days on strict bedrest, she delivered a healthy baby who spent two weeks in the NICU. 

Despite her original birth plan (which included going into spontaneous labor and laboring at home as long as possible before heading to the hospital) being completely throw out the window (in this case, taken away in a helicopter), she felt safe in the care of her new doctors and nurses and found a network of support in the NICU that she would lean on for months to come. 

Monica Giannulis birth story

Monica Giannulis Bio

Monica lives in Palmer, Alaska with her husband Alex and their rambunctious almost two-year-old son, Otis. Both she and her husband were born and raised in Alaska and are thrilled they get to raise their son in such an incredible place. When Monica’s not cleaning up the aftermath of Otis’s latest adventure or discovery, you can find her family taking walks along the Matanuska River, riding their bikes around town, or hanging out at their favorite brewery. You can follow her on Instagram at @monicagiannulis. 


  • The Postpartum Circle Podcast by Maranda Bower (@postpartummaranda *Instagram*)
  • HM4HB (Human Milk for Human Babies) network (facebook  groups by region, for breastmilk donations)

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