February 23, 2015 was the day my husband and I found out that I was pregnant with our 1st born son. Four months into the newlywed life, we were thrilled that we were expecting. Words could not describe the joy, excitement, and nervousness we felt, but we were ready to start our journey as new, expecting parents. I was so excited to schedule my first prenatal appointment and to learn what to expect during this pregnancy journey. We were even more excited to hear the heartbeat and to see our little peanut for the first time on the sonogram, and yes, he really did look like a peanut.
During the first appointment, there were several tests and exams performed to make sure everything was going smoothly. Before we left the doctor’s office, the doctor called us back in, and that was when I learned that I had a fibroid that was blocking the birth canal. The nurse practitioner scheduled me to see the high-risk doctor for me to be evaluated further. I was nervous and didn’t know what all of this meant. Being a researcher at heart, I started researching and researching. I researched so much that my husband had to tell me to stop.
I finally had my appointment with the high-risk doctor, and he explained that I should have a healthy pregnancy and shouldn’t require any additional care. Additionally, they would monitor the fibroid at every prenatal visit to see if it gets any more significant in size. I would also need to have a cesarean because the baby wouldn’t be able to pass through the birth canal due to the fibroid. I figured ok, whatever we need to do to get my baby here, healthy, and safe.
About 19 weeks into my pregnancy, I started to experience high blood pressure and severe lower back pain. My blood pressure was as high as 180/110. I wasn’t sure what was happening, but I knew I was in a lot of pain. After being evaluated by my doctor, I was prescribed high blood pressure pills that I needed to take daily. My back pain continued, and I was then put on bed rest at about 20 weeks. As I continued to rest, my blood pressure and back pain started to subside a bit. During this time, I was well into planning my gender reveal for my closest family and friends. My family was very excited and couldn’t wait to participate. Unfortunately, things started to take a turn for the worse around 22 weeks.
After my 22-week prenatal visits and shopping for decorations for my gender reveal, that was scheduled for July 19. I started having excruciating pain, and I could not ignore it. The pain was so bad that I was unable to walk. My husband took me to the hospital, and that was when I found out I was having contractions. I was admitted into the hospital, and two days before my gender reveal, I went into preterm labor and gave birth to our son at 22 ½ weeks. I watched my son live for 10 minutes and take two breaths before he passed. It was the most painful thing that I’ve ever experienced.
Dealing with our son’s death was hard on both my husband and me, but his death encouraged us to start a non-profit organization called the Baby Roland Foundation. Our foundation helps support first-time mothers in underserved communities by providing them with the basic essentials to care for their newborn for the first two months. Through the foundation, I wanted to find a way to help others in need while honoring our son. Every year on July 17 (the day we lost our baby boy), we present our Bundle of Joy gift baskets to first-time moms in underserved communities throughout Chicago.
Although losing our son was traumatic, and we will forever be affected by it, we never gave up hope that we would have a successful pregnancy, and we did. Two years later, we welcomed a healthy baby girl on May 26, 2017. She is now a very active 2-year-old, and we are enjoying every minute of watching her grow.
The work that the March of Dimes organization is doing is phenomenal. Advocating for the health of moms and babies and providing a platform for mothers like me to share their stories. When I heard about the mission of the Unspoken Stories, I felt that it was meant for me to get involved. When women experience pregnancy or infant loss, we tend to bury it and never talk about again. By creating a platform like this for sharing, I firmly believe there is a healing component in talking about your experiences. Sharing these stories can help someone else going through the same or similar situation. The March of Dimes Unspoken Stories provides hope and support for moms who have gone through something tragic, and that is powerful. I am honored to be able to share my story, and I hope my story will help and uplift someone who is or has experienced an infant or pregnancy loss.