Merriah and Melliah’s Michigan Answer: From Premature Birth to a Bright Future

Few moments eclipse the joy of discovering that you’re pregnant with twins. But for 37-year-old Merrick and 37-year-old Mychal, the news that they’d be having fraternal girls with an expected delivery date of Christmas Day 2020 made the news even more exciting.


“I couldn’t think of a better Christmas present,” recalls Merrick Smith of Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Having sailed through her first pregnancy just two years earlier, Merrick had every reason to be optimistic. Other than a long delivery, her daughter Mycah was born without any complications or health issues. And given the great care Merrick was presently receiving from her OB-GYN at University of Michigan Health Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital, she felt all the more empowered. 

I couldn’t think of a better Christmas present.

“My OB was amazing and helped me feel totally at peace with the direction the pregnancy was going. Honestly, I didn’t have any concerns for the twins,” says Merrick. 

But in a year like 2020, expecting the unexpected quickly became the new norm for many people. In late September, just 27 weeks into her pregnancy, Merrick noticed some unexplained bleeding. She called her U-M team and was told to come in right away.

Once at the hospital, doctors examined Merrick to make sure that her water had not broken. Merrick stayed in the hospital for four days to undergo additional observation. With no signs of further bleeding, she was discharged home with a plan to continue her prenatal care.

“I tried to not let it worry me,” says Merrick. “I just trusted my medical team and knew they knew what they were doing.” 

Less than three weeks later, on October 13, Merrick began having contractions. She arrived back at the hospital just before midnight to discover she was in active labor.

Merrick and Twins

“I definitely was scared at that point,” admits Merrick. “I still had about 10 weeks left in my third term. But the doctors and nurses really calmed me down. Dr. Baruch took my hand and said, ‘Don’t worry. I got you. I got you.’ I’ll never forget that moment.” 

Less than five hours later, Merrick welcomed her twin girls, Merriah and Melliah, into the world via emergency C section. 

“Working on Labor and Delivery is a phenomenal honor but also a huge responsibility,” says Adam D. Baruch, M.D., the OB-GYN who delivered the twins. “For Merrick and her babies, we did our best to make thoughtful recommendations while earning her trust in a very fragile moment. This was a joyous yet tenuous moment as she welcomed her daughters into the world.”

And now, the even harder task began of assessing complications from the premature delivery. For this, both girls would go straight to the Brandon Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU), conveniently located within the same building as Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital.

“Right away, the care my girls received was just amazing,” recalls Merrick. “Each girl had her own NICU team taking care of her. They had the latest technology that I can’t even pronounce. Fortunately, they were both fine.”

“We understand how important it is for parents of infants like Merriah and Melliah to know that their babies are safe and well-cared for, and that their voices as parents are heard and valued,” says Naomi Laventhal, M.D., service chief of the Brandon NICU. “For preemies, their time in the NICU is an important start, so we approach that time with intention, with coordinated care provided by many different types of health care professionals who work together to support the infants in state-of-the art hospital rooms that were built with the needs of families in mind.” 

We understand how important it is for parents of infants like Merriah and Melliah to know that their babies are safe and well-cared for, and that their voices as parents are heard and valued.

Despite the premature delivery, both Merriah and Melliah recovered and developed well during their time in the NICU. Both girls required oxygen from a CPAP machine, and Merriah would require a blood transfusion six weeks later. But beyond that, there were no major complications. Melliah stayed in the NICU for 56 days, while Merriah left on day 96. 

Today the girls are doing great, and Merrick, Mychal and Mycah couldn’t be happier. 

“They’re both rolling around and babbling like any other five-month-old,” tells Merrick. “The doctors will continue to monitor them, but they don’t have any concerns for the future.”

And regarding her medical team, Merrick is most grateful for the collective efforts of everyone who assisted her twins. 

“Everyone was just amazing — the doctors, the nurses, everyone. The NICU team was basically my second family.