(WHTM) — A dream is coming true for a new mom who thought she would never be able to have children.
Shaneice Felder’s journey to motherhood has stretched over a decade. She always wanted children, but for years, she thought her own health would get in the way. Now, she is living a moment she never thought possible.
Felder said she has always dreamed of being a mother, but at just 20 years old, she experienced kidney failure.
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“I was nauseous, I was vomiting and I just wasn’t feeling well,” she said.
It was the first in a series of health issues, including being diagnosed with lupus and diabetes. Felder also went through two kidney transplants and years of dialysis.
“That was just very strenuous on my body, I was always tired,” she said. “There were periods of depression, feeling like I was missing out on things that most of my friends were experiencing.”
A year after her second transplant, doctors told her she could try for a baby.
“I just thought it was impossible,” she said.
Felder had almost given up on having kids because of her health issues, and she and her partner were not really trying to get pregnant. Then, in December 2021, they got the news.
“I just found out that I was pregnant,” Felder remembered. “It was wonderful but it was scary as well.”
The pregnancy started out well, but suddenly, at 26 weeks, things changed.
“Her blood pressure escalated sort out of control,” Dr. Timothy Canavan, Director of Labor and Delivery at UPMC Harrisburg, said.
Felder was rushed to the hospital, where Dr. Canavan was part of her medical team.
“We felt like she needed daily surveillance of her blood pressure, her blood sugar, her baby’s wellbeing,” he said.
Felder said, “I needed to be admitted into the hospital until I gave birth.”
She said she was scared, not just because of the concerns about her health, but also because she knew Black women have higher rates of maternal mortality and are at higher risk of serious complications.
“What does this mean for me and my baby?” she said.
She brought this concern up with her doctors.
“We did talk a lot about it, it was tough conversations at times,” Dr. Canavan said. “I said to her, you know, I’m a white guy, so I’m the one you’re nervous about so educate me.”
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Felder said her medical team remained open to her concerns.
“They reassured me that they were going to do everything in their power to make sure I was safe,” she said.
She would need that reassurance. A few weeks after being admitted to the hospital, Felder’s blood pressure got so high she needed an emergency C-section. Her baby girl Zara was born more than two months early, weighing just two pounds.
Zara spent six weeks in the NICU, but she got discharged early.
“She’s feisty,” Felder said of her daughter.
Two months later, Felder and Zara are both happy and healthy. Felder hopes her story can inspire other women.
“Anything is possible,” she said. “For so long, I didn’t think that this was going to happen, and I’ve been so blessed, you know, so I just want to give all the women out there who may be going through things and may think that it won’t happen, don’t lose the faith.”
Felder also said she hopes her story encourages other women, particularly women of color, to advocate for themselves when it comes to their health.
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