In Part 2 of our exclusive interview with T.I.'s fiancée, Tameka "Tiny" Cottle, the former Xscape member and mother, opens up about the unfortunate miscarriage she suffered and how it still affects her today; T.I.'s wedding proposal; and what advice she has for other women who have loved ones on lockdown.
ESSENCE.COM: We'd like to offer you and your family our condolences for the miscarriage you suffered some time ago. Was there any indication that there might be difficulties with your pregnancy?
TINY: Thank you. From the time I was pregnant, the doctors told me the sac that holds the baby was split in two and they had not combined by the time she had turned 16 weeks old. As a result, she was positioned in the middle of those two sacs in her own sac. They told me there was a possibility that she could get tied up in her umbilical cord, but no one knew how or why this happened. Still, I never thought that I would lose the baby. Even the day before I visited the specialist I was told that everything was okay with the baby. When I went to see the specialist, that's when they determined there was no heartbeat.
ESSENCE.COM: Again, our hearts go out to you and your family. How did it affect you and your relationship?
TINY: I was very upset and depressed for a while. It definitely brought us closer in our relationship. I kept a lot of company around me to help me keep my mind off of it, so I wouldn't be so sad. She was 6 months old and I named her Lelah Amore. I keep her belongings near me—pictures and roses [from the burial]. It was very deep. Here I am, in the hospital to have a baby, deliver it, but I'm going to go home with no baby. After Lelah was born, I kept her in the room with me the whole day. They placed her in the little basket and we dressed her in an outfit and had a blanket wrapped around her. They came and got her because her body went cold and I wanted her back so they warmed her body again and I kept her. People might think that's crazy, but I just needed to be with her. Everybody came to visit her and then me and [T.I.] had our time alone with her. We had a funeral for her and it was beautiful. T.I. did a good job with the burial. I don't go back to visit her grave that often because it makes me too sad, but I do go for holidays and special days. My experience taught me not to take life for granted. Reverend Run's wife, Justine, reached out to me and shared some very powerful and encouraging words with me during that time and I so appreciated it.
ESSENCE.COM: Again, we offer our deepest sympathy. We understand that in the wake of this tragedy you and T.I. rekindled your relationship with a second engagement. How romantic was the wedding proposal?
TINY: Thank you, I appreciate it. (Laughs.) Regarding the proposal, all I can say about how it happened was that it was sexy, but it wasn't sweet. I was missing my first engagement ring and I'll just say he gave me a bigger one and pretty much said, "I want to marry you."
ESSENCE.COM: (Laughs.) Awesome. Is it tough being engaged to a sex-symbol rapper?
TINY: No, because I'm used to having fans myself, so I already knew what it was going to be like having been in the music business and having been around other successful men and watching what they would go through. A lot of [women] love to hate me because I'm with him, but it's not like I meet these people when we're out together. They know his public image, but I know him as a great father and provider who is caring, sweet and attentive to his family.
ESSENCE.COM: Do you have any words of encouragement for women who might be going through a similar situation as you?
TINY: Yes. Depending on the situation and the person, you should stick it out through thick and thin—the good and bad times. If you know you're with someone who would give his life for you and is somewhat a responsible better half, then stand up for him. I know my man's heart and because of that I'm going to be everything I need to be for him. Yes, he's made mistakes, but so have I. If your man stands up for you and is there whenever you need him, then doesn't he deserve your unconditional love and support? If I know that about my man, then that's the kind of woman I'm going to be for him. I might need him in different ways than he needs me, but if being his woman means loving, supporting and putting his mind at ease, then the least I can do is step up to the plate and be there for him and our family.