Alleah Collins: AKA SangLeah

"Neva Lose Confidence”

March 1st will always hold a special place in my heart. Not only would I be in the most excruciating pain but most importantly BLESSED with a bundle of joy who would change my life forevaaaa (cardi voice haha). He entered this world right on time and although some things in my life had to be put on hold, it didn't matter to me because I knew I served a bigger purpose now, I became a MOTHER.

Now my little munchkin should have known from being in this womb, mommy was a talented individual. From the studio session I had with Ash Bash, belting out those notes while him being in my belly, to those sleepless nights up writing songs & rubbing on my belly, even dancing all over the place thinking I’m a Hot Mama (lol). I told myself once he was born I would go even harder. But TBH things did get a bit hectic when it came to continuing on chasing my dreams.

Just hopping up and going to the studio or joining my music fam at their performances or even me performing wasn’t at all what I could do. It was MOMMY TIME, MOMMY TIME, AND SOME MORE MOMMY TIME. Which I didn’t have a problem with, but I will admit in the back of my head I couldn't help but to think should I give my music up & dedicate my life to nothing else but being a Mom?......

It got trickey as heck for me, after all the hardwork and dedication I did put toward my dreams nothing but doubt was going through my head. Would I still look good enough to perform or will I lose all the relationships I built because now I’m a mom. Would people not take me serious because of stepping back and having to take a break.... After all those doubts that ran through my head, I took a step back and realized my life was just beginning in a whole new light. I now have a mini me who is constantly looking up to me and counting on me to be the BEST I CAN BE. By throwing away all the goals and aspirations I had for myself, it would have most likely put me in a sad place. Which we all know, being sad leads to nothing but a negative space that nobody deserves to be in. Nothing can compare to knowing you have someone looking up to you watching your every move,, and if there is nothing you get out of this blog feature please understand to NEVER GIVE UP on what it is you want to do in this beautiful thing we call Life. I know this may sound a little cliche but Dig deep and realize whatever you put your mind to YOU CAN DO IT. Whatever Life does throw at you, catch it and handle it as if you were Kobe on that basketball court or in my case Alicia on them Keys. Promise you it’ll all be worth it in the end. I LOVE YOU SON! AND THANK YOU FOR KEEPING MOMMY ON HER TOES :) YOU THE ONE !!!!!!

Tyler E. Johnson
Jo Funderburk: Bud Strong

“Please be a boy, please be a boy, please be a boy…” during the early days of my pregnancy with Bub, that was the silent prayer that I’d recite daily. I’d sit at my work desk, cradling my stomach and repeat those words in my head over and over. Looking back; I now realize that it was a selfish prayer. I probably should’ve just been asking God for a healthy baby and not worried about the sex. But with everything that I had just endured, my desire for a son was overwhelming. I needed this dream to come to fruition.

This was my second pregnancy. Eight months prior, I lost my first son Bryant; due to a premature birth. I had been diagnosed with an incompetent cervix and it caused me to go into preterm labor; just shy of five months pregnant. It was a sudden, unexpected and devastating loss. Still heartbroken, I felt like the only thing that could pull me out of that dark place would be the son that I had so desperately yearned for. So, when my doctor confirmed that I was indeed carrying another boy at my 16-week checkup, I was ecstatic. I cried tears of joy and thought that although my pregnancy was high risk, the stress and anxiety that I was experiencing would soon become a distant memory.

I was so wrong.

Bub was born on July 4, 2016 via c-section. As soon as my son was placed in my arms I felt complete. I was finally a mom and relished in that moment. I was in a lot of pain, but the fact that he was here and healthy made it all worth it. Our first day together was glorious. We nursed a lot, slept a little, took a million pictures and began skin to skin bonding. I was on cloud nine.

Trouble didn’t show up until day three. It started with his circumcision. His dad and I had actually gone back and forth over whether or not we wanted to do it but ultimately decided to go for it. His doctors ensured us that it was a quick and easy process and that he would feel minimal discomfort. They whisked him away to do the procedure and he was brought back into our room about 45 minutes later. If all went well, we were supposed to be discharged the following afternoon. We mostly slept for the rest of the day and it wasn’t until later that night that we first noticed a problem. Bub’s dad went to change his diaper and it was soiled with blood. We knew to expect a little bleeding due to the circumcision, but this was way more than a little. The entire inside of his diaper was a bright, crimson red. Bub’s dad yelled for the nurse and she came rushing in. After taking one look at his diaper she gasped and paged the doctor. Everything happened so fast and, in an instant, our lives were changed forever.

Hemophilia was never on my radar. I guess I was so consumed with the circumstances surrounding my pregnancy and the fact that Bub was my rainbow baby, I didn’t even consider the possibility of my child inheriting a genetic disease. My first cousin has hemophilia, but he lives in Georgia. Growing up, we never really went into detail about his diagnosis and what it meant. All I knew was that it was a blood disorder and that he couldn’t play contact sports or else he’d get hurt really badly.

The moment Bub’s doctor came into the room he began to question me about my family history. He asked me if it was a possibility that I could be a carrier of the hemophilia gene and I told him that I had no idea, I had never even been tested for it. Meanwhile, Bub had already been taken to the NICU and doctors were frantically trying to stop the bleeding which had gotten much worse. They tried everything from stitches to silver nitrate… but he bled through it all. Finally, they decided that he needed to be transported to Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital because they were better equipped to treat high risk patients. But before he could even get transferred there, he had a seizure.

As all of this was going down, I honestly thought that I was going to die from an anxiety attack. I was on an emotional roller coaster and I couldn’t figure out why God would allow for so many traumatic experiences to occur in my life back to back. I had barely recovered from the death of my first son and here I was again, faced with that same possibility. I couldn’t even process everything that was going on and at one point I mentally checked out. I don’t know if it was the narcotic pain meds or the mental trauma that I was enduring but everything just went blank.

The next few days felt like a never-ending nightmare. My son was transferred to Hopkins and admitted into the NICU unit. Doctors put him under a medical sedation and over the course of four days he underwent a blood transfusion, an MRI and an EEG to monitor his brain activity. They formally diagnosed him with Severe Hemophilia A and gave his father and I a crash course on what having the disorder meant.

In laymen’s terms, my son is missing a clotting gene in his blood. This means that the slightest injury or cut could cause him to suffer and bleed severely. It’s a lifelong disorder and as of today, there is no cure. The only way to treat it is by injecting him with a lab-made clotting factor three times a week and after every major fall or injury. Hemophilia is an X-linked genetic disorder, which means that it’s passed from mother to son on the X chromosome. Since I did not know that I was a carrier, I indirectly passed the disorder to him.

Hearing his doctor explain all of this to us was a lot to take in. I was consumed with guilt and I just remember crying until I felt numb. Even though I had no way of knowing that this would happen, I still felt like everything was my fault. After spending one long week in the NICU, we were finally cleared and discharged. And while that nightmare ended, real life had just begun…

That was almost two years ago. Since then, we’ve certainly had our share of ups and downs but overall, my son is thriving. He is incredibly smart, extremely active and the biggest flirt ever. We’ve been blessed enough to connect with some wonderful families via social media and through our local Hemophilia chapter, who are raising sons with the disorder as well. Thankfully, he has had no seizure activity since that day in the NICU. He got a port placed in his chest back in November (read about that experience here) and it’s made our lives so much easier. Prior to him getting the port, we would have to travel to the hospital 2-3 times a week for his treatments to be administered intravenously. It was a grueling process for me and a painful process for him. Now that he has the port, I can administer all his treatments at home and independently.

I have become his advocate and he is my hero.  In his short time here, my son has already taught me so much about life. He is a shining example of bravery, resilience and strength. I pray that by being so transparent and sharing our story, we are able to help another family who may be going through the same thing. Of course, sometimes it does get tough, but through it all we will always remain #BubStrong.

Tyler E. Johnson
Artesha Welch: Validate Yourself

So hey i'm a mom :) I saw this post a couple months ago on instagram that read, “A mother who radiates self- love and self acceptance actually vaccinates her daughter against low self esteem .” - Naomi Wolf. I know first hand the effects of placing doubt upon oneself, and how it can shape your life. My eyes have opened a lot the older i became and the journey of motherhood has heightened my self awareness to the tenth power lol. I am a first generation american with Garifuna/ Belizean roots. I've always known two different worlds, and two different perspectives. As a young girl growing up i guess i struggled with identity, and having a sense of belonging between cultures. “Maybe i have made mistakes and been through my fair share of pain but all in all its been okay i’ve lived well.” Quote from Jhene Aiko’s song Eternal Sunshine explains in a short sentence the remainder of my life up to now lol. My trails have built me into a splendid well guided, intelligent, loving, and persevering young woman. I have been a mother to my daughter for one year and three months and I am proud. She was destined to come into my life. During gestation i went into a spiritual journey. I went inward and pinpointed every cycle from generations before me where some adjustments had to be made with how this child is raised with mental, emotional, and spiritual support. I am naturally a nurturing person, and id say wise on some topics. A Lot of things I heard and seen as a child I knew from childhood not to repeat certain cycles around my own children. I have been a stay at home mom for a year and i’ve quickly learned that not everyone around you will be to pleased with the idea of “a stay at home mom” and can even look down on you for not working. I personally am blessed to have a support system that provides the environment for me to be there for my daughter. I see that Self acceptance will be a lifelong project. While battling fears, and turning and molding my past traumas into a power to utilize for self empowerment i still shake a little when i get thrown blows. My concern is do I radiate self love enough for my daughter to see? Do I radiate self acceptance enough for my daughter to see? Because the things some folks have spoken about me, I had to seek the real message within their words. “Malatani” is a garifuna word in my culture which means, worthless, can't achieve anything, and weak was used to describe me by an elder who doesn't even know me like that. So i received my message loud and clear. It was a tough pill to swallow but the message was a positive one. Or so i took it. I am excited for all that's to come through listening to my intuition and putting in the work because at least i can still carry on and continue to create my destiny and embody the example for my daughter so that she too can be Resilient, radiate self love, and most importantly self acceptance. It is inevitable that offenses shall come. That's why my daughter is being taught emotional intelligence. Maybe for the sake of my child it's time i also change my tribe. I have a lifetime of work to achieve and it involves mental, emotional, and spiritual empowerment of oneself. As a mother its a value of mines to be very conscious of how i “ SUPPORT” my children. I see my level of awareness as revolutionary, and so intend on raising revolutionary children. To all stay at home mother’s how long did it take for you to develop a lifestyle routine and income that works for the type of parenting you want to achieve?

Tyler E. Johnson
Natasha Nelson: Cloth Diapering Mama!

Hey Moms have you ever considered using cloth diapers? If not, would you if you knew the ins and outs? This Mondays mommy feature is Natasha Nelson from Riley, Kansas. Natasha is a proud cloth diapering mama. Rather than using disposable diapers that must be purchased repeatedly Natasha has purchased a very versatile stash of cloth diapers and wipes that can be used, washed, and used again. This mom is saving big bucks while protecting little Ms. Paris’s bum from chemicals and lowering the risk of diaper rash drastically.

Natasha is mom to three-month-old doll baby Paris Rose Nelson. I ran across Natasha’s page looking at mom’s profiles on Instagram who hash tagged mom life in their pictures (it’s my fav hashtag lol). Natasha shines bright and is doing her thing while sharing her mom life journey. She shares about life as wife, veteran, and devoted cloth diapering mom. When I saw that Natasha did not use disposable diapers I was shocked! I know cloth diapering is not unheard of however; I had never actually encountered a parent that strictly used cloth diapers let alone occasionally. I was truly intrigued and had so many questions. I sent Natasha a couple of the questions I had as well as questions I thought other parents may have about her cloth diapering journey.

Without further ado, here are the deets about Natasha’s cloth diapering journey:

1. How did you get into cloth diapering? • I was stationed in Germany when I was in the military. I decided to get out of the military in Germany while my husband continued in the Army. Most of the mothers I interacted with used cloth diapers, breastfed, and baby wore. I researched and considered all three, before even trying to have children.

2. Which cloth diaper style do you prefer? (DIY or the ones that have buttons) • If I could only use one style, it would be pocket diapers. They still have the convenience of disposables that my husband needs, and they allow me to adjust the absorbency to our needs at the time. Throughout the day, we can just use microfiber inserts since I change her every 2 hours. However, during naps and night sleeping I must add more absorbency. Pockets allow me to add a flour sack cloth or a prefolds to my hemp or charcoal bamboo insert to keep us leak free. Can’t beat it.

3. What are the pros and cons of cloth diapering?

• Pros: Less to no diaper rash and you can save money if that’s what you need. I spent about $350 on my entire cloth diaper and wipe stash and accessories because I bought them used from a foster mom who barely got to use them before she was moved to fostering older children. That included 7 Fuzzibunz pockets perfect size small, 9 Happy Flute AIO OS, 5 Charlie Banana pockets OS, 32 Alva Baby pockets OS, 13 Charlie Banana microfiber inserts, 12 Alva Baby microfiber insets, 16 Alva Baby Charcoal bamboo inserts, 7 Fuzzibunz hemp inserts, 36 cotton cloth wipes, 4 small wet/dry bags, and 1 large wet bag. People pay

between $1000-$2000 a year on disposable diapers for one child. My cloth can be used for multiple children or treated and sold to someone to use. Cloth diapers are way better for the environment. Do you know where disposable are put once the trash system takes them from your home? Landfills of trash. Cloth diapering makes me better about doing my laundry. I have a lot of clothes and hated doing laundry. Prior to having a child and cloth diapering, I would wash clothes once a month. They are so stinking cute, you don’t have to buy a bunch of pants. Cloth diapers keep Paris’s butt warm and she doesn’t need pants.

• Cons You must wash and prep the diapers before easy use, you must do research to know how to properly clean and care for your diapers, and if you are like me and hate laundry, more laundry is always a con. Also, you will touch your child’s urine and feces. However, I’ve been told as a mother you must do this regardless. I’ve become immune. lol

4. What are the essentials for your cloth diapering kit? Home: • Pockets and inserts, Storage, Diaper pail with cover, Large wet bag, Flour sack and prefolds, Wipe warmer, Cloth wipes, My DIY wipe solution, and Microfleece diaper liners. Going out: • 2-4 cloth diapers (depending on the outing), small wet/dry bag to safely contain the soiled diapers, 8 cloth wipes in a sealed container pre-soaked in my DIY cloth wipe solution, a diaper bag with a changing pad built into it, extra Muslim cloth just in case, and a container with filtered water.

5. What is your most memorable cloth diapering moment (if any)? • We got my daughter a Black Panther cloth diaper from @nappybunz to go with my husband’s Black Panther cosplay for the movie premier.

6. What is one thing all moms/parents should know about cloth diapering? • It’s truly not nearly as hard as people make it seem and it’s so much better for your baby and the environment.

7. What is your fav cloth diaper brand? • For those going to cloth for affordability, Alva baby can’t be beat for cute prints, and decent pocket diapers at cheap prices ($6 or less). However, if price isn’t an issue, Little Llama Pants is a small business that makes outstanding diapers with the most adorable prints. https://www.etsy.com/shop/littlellamapant

I’m positive the questions asked only scratched the surface of all that you need to know about cloth diapering so go follow Natasha and shoot her a message she’s a mommy that understands the importance of teaching and inspiring! Natasha The Bonafide Moms Spot would like to thank you for sharing your clothing journey with all us moms!

Tyler E. Johnson
Mommy feature: Preemie Strong! Written by Raven H. 

Most parents dream of the moment their child is born and holding them only seconds after. But for my fiancé and I, it would be a very long time before we could ever cuddle or gently caress our precious little girl. From the simple questions about her diapers to overwhelming medical procedures, we were in for a roller coaster ride that we never expected to take." Born 16 weeks premature and weighing only 1 pound, 4 ounces, my daughter Raegan is living proof that there is hope, thanks to breakthroughs in medicine, advances in research, and the generosity of strangers.
It was my last day of finals at Southern University. Throughout the whole day I felt like something wasn’t right but I was determined to finish my Junior Year off strong, so I could return to Texas. That evening the uncertainty increased. I called my doctor’s office and explained my symptoms and the nurse told me, “ As long as the baby is moving and your not bleeding heavy you're just fine.” Unhappy with that answer I called my Mom basically in tears. She urged me to go ahead and go to the hospital. By that time my doctor’s office was closed. Initially I went to Baton Rouge General Hospital where they made me wait for what seemed like ages. My fiance was on edge so he called the emergency line at my doctor’s office and they asked me to come to Women’s hospital instead. By this time I couldn’t sit or stand due to the excruciating pain I was feeling. My fiance did almost 100 mph all the way to Women’s hospital, and by the time I was admitted into a room I was 8cm dilated. I was rushed upstairs to labor and delivery in a state of shock. The doctor’s and nurses did everything to reassure me that everything would be okay but I was terrified. Everything was moving so fast I couldn’t process what was going on around me. I was given multiple medications to help advance Raegan’s lungs and also to prepare the both of us for delivery. When I got to the delivery room there were numerous doctors and nurses gathered around me. The events that followed next are all still a big blur to me. I was hysterical, drugged up, and mentally and physically exhausted. With everything that was going on I ended up having to have an emergency c-section.
When our journey began, the NICU team warned me that her extreme prematurity would be a long journey filled with many steps forward followed by many setbacks. I was an emotional rollercoaster during the entire NICU stay, being a full time college student athlete, 7 hours away from family support I did not know what to do or how to feel. I practically lived at the hospital for 6 months while Raegan slowly crept toward her due date. Like other moms of preemies, I felt guilty about her early birth. I would constantly contemplate, “Did I work too hard”?” Stress too much”?” Eat too little”? So many questions ran through my head on a daily basis. Nothing ever made me feel better besides Raegan getting better.
As time progressed, Raegan experienced many of the common complications associated with extreme prematurity including feeding issues, respiratory distress, Lung infection, bone issues, Retinopathy issues (eyes), blood transfusions, and countless feeding issues. As a result, some of these complications resulted in many surgeries during her NICU stay. The most life threatening was the infection of NEC an intestinal infection which almost took her from us one extremely terrifying night. A night I will never forget due to her doctor’s stunning words to her father and I, “ You guys might have to start thinking about making funeral arrangements. ” No parent ever wants to hear those words. It was like my heart suddenly shattered into a million tiny pieces in a matter of seconds. I thought I was losing my daughter before I could ever get the chance to be the mother I have always desired to be. But God, had a plan for my little angel, and losing this battle was not on his list of plans. Who would think a tiny infant could endure so much pain with such resilience. With that being said, I then made the decision to never allow negative news to cause me to give up on her. There was no option of losing faith and giving up, when she was fighting with every fiber in her tiny little body.
Milestones became joyous celebrations, no matter how big or small they were. Raegan slowly but surely showed anyone who doubted her that anything is possible with faith. After 6 long months, we finally were able to take her home. Despite having an 85% chance of death or disability, Raegan completely defied all odds that were once against her. That day was truly phenomenal, one of the best moment of our lives – joint first with being able to hold her for the first time! We were finally on our own for the first time, just our little family. I spent the whole evening smiling, I was so elated.
“Having the qualities of a superhero does not mean that you will never face failure or disappointment, it means that you will get up every time the odds are against you and try with all of your might.” Raegan may seem like your average toddler, but the resilience, courage, and fighting spirit within her makes her my very own superhero. From the day she was born I have been filled with nothing but gratitude to have a continuous reminder that miracles really do happen.

Raegan taught me to have strength I never knew existed. She is my reason for keeping the faith and never giving up. It’s crazy how a tiny human can teach you a life lesson bigger than themselves. To all the preemie mommy’s out there who are faced with this journey: Always remember to keep the faith, and NEVER give up! Our little superhero’s were brought here to teach us and those surrounding lessons far greater than you could ever imagine. Just keep holding on . . .We are PREEMIE STRONG! 

Tyler E. JohnsonComment