The stunning Janessa Sanders-Newman, Jeremiah (11), Malakai (10) and Jessah (21 months).
Janessa got pregnant with Jeremiah when she was 14 and had him when she was 15. It was a very heavy experience but she had a lot of support from her family. Jeremiah's father chose not to parent which she says, in the long run has been easier for them.
When she was 17 she met her husband and his son, Malakai, who was then three. He had been born to 15 year old parents also and his mother had also chose not parent so at 17, Janessa welcomed him as another child.
She was able to finish high school and go to college while her husband left for the Army. They were married and had talked about having more children but she wanted her next pregnancy to be planned and on her own terms. She was birth control for a while and when she decided to get off they were unable to conceive which was very hard for her. Fertility testing showed that everything was fine medically which made it even more difficult for her. She hadn't been getting a period or ovulating so they talked about fertility treatments and she stated progesterone to give her a period, metformin as treatment for PCOS and clomid to help her ovulate.
She didn't conceive on the first round, so they waited a few months before starting a second round. She found that she was having very amplified emotions and while out with her family one day she had a gush of fluids and thought she had lost control of her bladder. She realized it was her period and she was gushing so badly she thought she was miscarrying or something was seriously wrong. She called the doctor who told her that with the medications it was totally normal.
They decided to do another round of medications and she waited for that 28th day to come and her cycle to start again like a giant dam breaking but it didn't. And the next day it didn't either. She took a pregnancy test and was thrilled to see it was positive - she was pregnant with Jessah but was also scared and terrified because it had taken so long and found herself very worried about miscarrying. An 8 week ultrasound looked good but they couldn't find her baby's heartbeat at 12 weeks. They decided to do an internal ultrasound and Janessa learned she has a tilted uterus and her baby was just hiding out in the back. They got a 3-D ultrasound later on and were told they were having a boy. Janessa was disappointed, already having two sons she had really wanted a daughter. A later scan at her doctor's office however, showed that she was having a girl and the gender reveal ultrasound had been incorrect.
When she was in her early third trimester, Janessa started getting really sick. She was throwing up and having contractions but the hospital told her she just had the flu, stopped her contractions and sent her home. It happened again and she then began having horrible sharp pains in her back as well. They gave her some Zofran and again sent her home again. The third time she was really sick and stuck it out at home no longer wanting to go to the hospital if they were just going to send her home.
The following day she couldn't feel her baby moving. During a time of day she was normally bouncing around she was still so Janessa went to the hospital with her sister to check on things, assuming that everything was likely okay. They were able to hear a heart beat but it wasn't fluctuating and they couldn't get the baby to move. The OB arrived and everyone started rushing around and told her she needed to have an emergency cesarean right then. She was only 32 weeks and didn't know what was going on. Her husband wasn't there, they were shaving her, starting a catheter, making her sign papers and she couldn't stop crying. Her husband arrived and they prepped her for surgery, but when they got Jessah out she wasn't crying and they still didn't know what was happening.
They had to transfer Jessah to a NICU an hour away and Janessa was still getting mixed information about what was going on and whether or not her baby would be okay. She was able to see and touch her Jessah before they took her and then they just had to wait. Janessa's extended family were able to go with the baby while her husband stayed with her. The hospital wouldn't discharge Janessa because of her surgery and kept her on the maternity floor. She could hear all the other babies crying and her baby wasn't there.
Nurses helped Janessa learn to pump and she did so diligently every three hours as it felt like that was the only thing she could do, the only thing she had control of for her baby. Janessa's family had been sending her photos of her baby and she she was able to call the NICU to check on her. She was thrilled when she was finally able to be discharged and went to take a shower but she passed out and had to stay an additional day for a blood transfusion. Janessa finally got to meet her baby but couldn't touch her, they had to wear full gowns and everything felt so distant.
Janessa later learned that she had formed a blood clot and her placenta had ruptured. Jessah had stopped getting oxygen and was dying when Janessa went to the hospital. If she had waited any longer her baby wouldn't have made it. Her intuition had saved her babies life and possibly hers as well.
Unfortunately, Janessa found herself sick again just after she'd finally been able to see her daughter, and went to the emergency room. There she learned she had gall stones and that was what had been making her sick all along. They told her she needed to have surgery right away but she wanted to wait so she didn't miss out on time with her daughter in NICU. Changing her diet helped a bit and she was able to delay surgery until the week that her baby was scheduled to come.
Through it all Janessa learned to navigate life with a baby in NICU an hour away and two kids at home. She worked out schedule where she was able to stay for a few days and come home for a few days. She had a friend who had also been through life in NICU who was great about encouraging her to get out and take some time away. Jessah had been born 8 weeks early but did so well she was able to come home from NICU after just 4 weeks on Valentine's Day. They have had to follow up with a neurologist due to a brain bleed, a cardiologist due to now healed hole in heart and monitor her growth but Jessah is doing great and meeting all of her milestones at her actual age. Janessa has been able to continue breastfeeding Jessah, she transitioned exclusively to the breast once she was home and they're still nursing today.
Even though this pregnancy and birth were far more difficult than her first Janessa found it so nice to have someone by her side feeling what she felt. A partner, another parent, to walk through it with her.
Janessa was worried she had postpartum depression and asked her doctor about it at her six week check up. He told her that because she was sleeping, she was just fine. She followed up with her regular doctor who was also a bit dismissive but was able to refer her to a therapist.
Janessa is a strong feminist and wants to help show other women that what happens when you have a baby is okay - all the emotions you're feeling, all the stuff that comes out of you, the stetch marks, the saggy leaky boobs - all of that is okay. Her stretch marks grew with each pregnancy, she can see where Jeremiah's started and ended and where Jessah's continued and Malakai has given her plenty of gray hairs so she gets to have those too. Janessa says she's never been good at a lot of things but she's good at this. She's a good mom and wouldn't want to do it any other way, she looks forward to every day.