It was a Sunday when my son died. On that day, July 31st, 2016, my husband and I visited our 7-day-old son Kj in the NICU. He was born via emergency c-section just 6 months into my pregnancy. Even though the previous days had been difficult, July 31st offered a ray of hope. It was the day that I was going to start kangaroo care, which is skin to skin contact, a way to help strengthen my son’s immunity, regulate his heartbeat and bond with him. Prior to that day I had not held my baby, extra caution had to be taken with micro premies. Also there was medical concern because one of his heart valves was open, and they were going to give him medicine to help it close the previous day.
I remember on that day I was wearing a beautiful pink dress, and I excitedly pumped milk for him to eat to help with his immunity. I had milk flowing from me in abundance, but he could only take .5ml at most. I remember on that day both of his eyes were wide open, which surprised me because he was born with one of his eyes sealed. He just stared up at me, gazing. Even though I could not hold him, I could pat his head and feet and let his small fingers grip mine.
The moments that followed were a blur. The nurse had rushed in to check on my son because his blood pressure was getting low. After the nurse the doctor came in, followed by more panicked staff. I stopped looking at the monitor and started praying immediately. I was in a rocking chair and stayed in that spot until after I was finished pumping. The doctor came to me and said “I‘m sorry,” and my senses went numb after that. I fell on the floor and started screaming and my husband held onto me. We were taken to a grief room where I held my son for the first time. The heaviness of loss overwhelmed my husband and he began to cry too. I had never seen him cry before. When he wept, I just went into a zone of holding my man through this because he was there for me in my moment of overwhelming pain. We went home, and family came to be with us.
Prior to going into labor I was seeing a therapist due to stress from my job. I went back to my therapist with different issues–now we were dealing with grief and mourning. My husband, my brother, sister, close girlfriends and some of my Delta sorority sisters were really there for me every step of the way. Even with all that support, moments of pain would flood my mind at random times. I was sitting at home months later watching TV and an ad for newborn baby Pampers ran across the screen. I began crying hysterically. It was in that moment I decided I would have to find a way to move through my pain. I created the afrikoPOP fitness routine as a healing space for my postpartum loss. Working out and dancing always helped me when I was in a lonely or depressive state of mind, but I realized it was time to take this exercise beyond a hobby. I turned my healing into an entire dance fitness company, and I can credit my son for giving me the reason I needed to quit my 9-5 and branch out as an entrepreneur.
I never thought just 1 year and 2 months after this ordeal I would be pregnant again. I had undergone a myomectomy (the removal of uterine fibroids) and my OB told me all the risks, my age, my race etc could mean for another pregnancy. The odds were stacked against me. The doctors thought that I had an incompetent cervix meaning that my cervix could not support a full term pregnancy. If I wanted to get pregnant again, I would need to try soon because of my myomectomy. God and my husband are the only reason I was able to overcome my fears and try again. God was okay with me being a total bitch and going through my emotions during this grieving time. God helped me to appreciate life and showed me the beauty of working through the most uncomfortable stuff. My husband’s faith and belief in us being pregnant again was inspiring. He saw me at my worst and was with me in my lowest. He is a God send, my life partner forever.
As I gear up for the birth of my second child, I can reflect on everything KJ taught me. Lesson number 1: I need to slow my ass down. I knew something was wrong two weeks before I went into pre-term labor, but because my supervisor was not supportive throughout my pregnancy I didn’t speak up for myself and was consequently over worked and over stressed. As a matter of fact, I went into labor at work. My son taught me to take my time, do things for me, and listen to my body. I will never allow anyone else to make me feel guilty for slowing down. My firstborn let me know that anything is possible and that he is watching over mommy, daddy and his little brother. That makes me smile and helps me let go of the bullshit.
For mamas coping with the loss of a child on Mother’s Day, take your time. You have a right to feel whatever it is you’re feeling. Talk to someone. So many women reached out to me after I shared my story on Facebook, YouTube and IG. You are not alone and you can live your life, honoring the memory of your child.
Kasa Ananti is the creator and founder of afrikoPOP fitness which combines dance fitness and body strength exercises set to an afroPOP beat. Kasa was determined to help people feel good and do something good for their bodies and founded the company January 2017. She is passionate about health and wellness and helping people reach their goals.
Check out the first routine with her second son, (he’s in the belly) she created to help her mourn the death of her firstborn son HERE.