Robert Austin Fitch Photography
New York-based brand manager Gessie Thompson was determined to be a mom. With a fighting, faithful spirit, she went to war against dramatic health problems—and won.
New York-based brand manager Gessie Thompson was determined to be a mom. With a fighting, faithful spirit, she went to war against dramatic health problems-and won.
For me the path to motherhood was a ten-year battle that began in a doctor’s office in 2001. My husband, Marc, and I were ready to expand our family, but our plans were put on hold when a checkup revealed I had fibroids. My gynecologist and I decided I’d have a myomectomy, to remove the fibroids but leave my uterus intact.
Still, five years later, Marc and I had had no success conceiving. I knew something was wrong when I began experiencing crippling abdominal pain and sex became excruciating: The fibroids were back, bigger and more scattered. After consulting fertility specialists, I had a second myomectomy in 2006, then a bowel resection due to a resulting obstruction. Normal conception was impossible now because of the scarring. Undaunted, in 2008 we pursued in vitro fertilization (IVF) and got pregnant after the first round—but after nine weeks I miscarried. Two more IVF cycles in 2009 were unsuccessful. Also distressing was that my fibroids had returned once again.
By the time of my third myomectomy, in 2010, I was 39 and had a narrowing window of opportunity to conceive. I was also wrestling with the effects of IVF. Besides causing physical challenges, the hormone injections kept me in a state of rage. In response, my husband shut down emotionally as he confronted his own desire for biological fatherhood. My marriage strained and facing the tension of past failed attempts, I struggled to decide: Could I really push my body further?
I prayed for wisdom and direction. One morning I felt compelled to call my sister-friend Denise. For two hours she asked me questions that helped me hear myself think. As I talked I began to realize that God was at work clearing my way to motherhood. For the first time, for example, my health insurance would provide IVF coverage, and somehow my doctor had kept my uterus intact during the last tough surgery. A week after that call, my godmother Yanick, who had no knowledge of my dilemma, phoned to say she’d prayed for me and I would have a baby within a year. That confirming word became my anchor, and in February 2011, after a final round of IVF, I was pregnant.
But we had another battle ahead. At 21 weeks the baby was severely underweight. My fibroids, resurgent, had turned leech-like, siphoning off the fetus’ blood supply. My condition, called fetal growth restriction, was severe—it was unlikely I’d carry the baby to term and my doctor gently suggested we consider terminating. The prognosis was like a gut punch, but in that moment I only heard my godmother’s words. I believe God sent me that message to sustain me during the storm. I spent much of my pregnancy hospitalized, undergoing a battery of tests with my husband, mother-in-law Cherral, and sister Felicia by my side, while my baby girl held on. At 32 weeks my doctors decided she had a better chance in the world than in my womb. The night before my C-section, the hospital allowed me to have my dream photo shoot to document our miracle. Those portraits reflect my serenity. I felt like I’d found the sweet spot in God’s hands, and every blessing in the world was mine.
We’re thankful for Drs. D. Rosenfeld, A. Hershlag, V. Klein, B. Rochelson and the numerous doctors and nurses who respected our faith and their medicine. As for our miracle baby, although she was just 2.5 pounds she was feisty. We brought her home exactly one month from her date of birth. Today she gives us immeasurable joy and lives up to the meaning of her name daily. Nia: a child born on purpose, for a purpose, with a purpose.
This article was featured in the May 2014 issue of ESSENCE . Pick it up on newstands now.
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