Melanie L I Always Wanted to Be a Mom

“Friends told me they’d been going through the same thing and no one knew. A lot of women are ashamed to admit that infertility or miscarriage are issues for them.”

A young woman finds expert care every step of the way on her journey to motherhood, from fertility treatments to gestational diabetes management to childbirth.

Even as high school sweethearts, Melanie Llanes and her husband, Angelo, of Jersey City, dreamed of having children together. “Back then, we wanted to wait until a better time, but we often talked about the future,” says Melanie, now 32.

But Melanie had early hints of difficulties ahead. As young as 14, she knew she had ovulation issues. In her early 20s, she was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disorder.

Patricia Chau, MD

“With PCOS, you have irregular periods, hormone imbalances and potential difficulty getting pregnant,” explains Melanie’s OB/GYN, Patricia Chau, MD, faculty attending physician at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Jersey City Medical Center (JCMC) and a member of RWJBarnabas Health Medical Group. PCOS also increases the risks of pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, a blood sugar disorder.

The couple married in 2013 and started their life together as Melanie became a physical therapist and Angelo went into nursing. Melanie became pregnant in 2016 but lost the baby during the first trimester.

Opening Up

In 2018, Melanie consulted Dr. Chau about the couple’s next attempt.

“Dr. Chau really listens to you and isn’t just filling in boxes on a chart,” Melanie says. “She was so understanding.”

Dr. Chau referred the couple for fertility treatment at JCMC’s Women’s Health Center at Grove Street. Melanie’s regimen combined oral fertility medication with scheduled intercourse timed to an ovulation-triggering hormone injection.

The treatment succeeded, but a second pregnancy in 2019 again ended with a first-trimester miscarriage.

“It was disheartening,” Melanie says. “You know that meme, ‘You only had one job’—and you blew it? That’s how I felt.”

Until that point, she’d kept her difficulties quiet, but now she decided to be more open about her experiences.

“Friends told me they’d been going through the same thing and no one knew,” Melanie says. “A lot of women are ashamed to admit that infertility or miscarriage are issues for them.”

Melanie and her husband continued fertility treatment. Then she conceived naturally during a medication break.

She told friends and family the news immediately.

“I don’t know why, but my body knew this pregnancy would be viable,” Melanie says. “I was more relaxed than before and more able to enjoy everything day by day.”

Care and Communication

As the pregnancy went on, she developed gestational diabetes. JCMC’s Antenatal Testing Unit was at the ready to track the disorder.

Barak Rosenn, MD

“Having expertise in taking care of women with gestational diabetes is important because managing and controlling the disorder can be pretty involved,” says Barak Rosenn, MD, Director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at JCMC. “In addition to testing, we’re also educating the mother on modifying her diet and keeping blood glucose levels under control.”

With all services at one institution, results could be easily shared among specialists. “The ultrasound center was in close contact with my doctors and the lines of communication were clear and easy,” Melanie says.

“Having a broad continuum of services is not just about convenience, it’s about quality of care,” Dr. Rosenn says. “We only have a limited period of time [during pregnancy] and the ability of providers to coordinate is vital.”

A Son Is Born

At 37 weeks, Melanie went into labor. After 11 hours, the couple’s son, Kaden, was born, weighing six pounds, two ounces.

When the delivery team placed Kaden in Melanie’s arms, she almost couldn’t believe he was hers. Shortly after her second miscarriage, Melanie had a deeply emotional dream in which she had cradled a baby and felt its fingers.

“The dream was literally coming true,” Melanie says. “But in the dream, I hadn’t seen the baby’s face. Now here was this little cutie. I was just bawling at that moment.”

Today, Melanie says she’s never been more tired, especially with Angelo now deployed as a nurse with the U.S. Navy Reserve.

“There’s a learning curve with being a mom that nobody can teach you,” she says. “You just have to live it and experience it. And that experience has been great.”

For more information about giving birth at Jersey City Medical Center, visit our Maternity page.