My name is Ebony Ford and my husband and I endured 5 years of infertility and loss before discovering that we were pregnant with Reign Victoria.
Our pregnancy was completely uneventful until week 26. While on vacation I began to experience shortness of breath and severe swelling. By the time I got on the plane to come home I couldn’t fit my shoes, could barely breathe and couldn’t see very well.
I was rushed to the hospital on the ground and after blood, urine & radiology tests I was diagnosed with sudden onset severe preeclampsia, pulmonary edema and HELLP syndrome. We learned that I needed to deliver IMMEDIATELY and would do so via emergency c-section. I was to go under general anesthesia, be intubated and then attached to a ventilator for the next 24 hours and would do it ALONE. I had very little time to process all that was happening emotionally and even less time to consent. I felt like I was being raped of my dream, a choice, HOPE! The feeling of doom enveloped me as the rushed me into the OR. I began to hyperventilate, so much so that they quickly sedated me before my blood pressure could rise anymore.
On March 25 at 6:53 pm Reign Victoria was born at 26 weeks and 5 days weighing just 1 lb 15 oz. Despite the doctors expectations, she was born breathing on her own and didn’t require intubation. I was then rushed to the ICU where I would unknowingly spend the next day fighting for my life as my delivery didn’t immediately heal me. I was in complete liver failure and partial kidney failure. There were talks of dialysis and placement on the liver transplant list if they couldn’t get things under control. I woke up around noon the next day scared, intubated, and alone.
I didn’t immediately realize I was intubated so when I went to breathe I could feel air pumping into my chest. Anxiety and fear started setting in as I realized that my hands were tied to the bed and no one was there to help me. I cried and screamed internally for what felt like an eternity until a team of doctors came in explaining that they had kept me in this state because I was in severe liver failure, my kidneys weren’t functioning properly causing them to drain nearly 30 lbs of fluid off of my body via catheter & diuretics. They took the breathing tube out and my husband later entered the room. The next 8 hours were spent there in the ICU as my blood pressure was very resistant to many doses of pressure medicine as well as magnesium and it’s HORRIBLE side effects. I not only battled the magnesium fog but uncontrollable coughing (due to pulmonary edema) resulting in severe pain.
Between the magnesium, blood pressure and pain meds I was nauseous and vomiting which only intensified the pain. I was finally stabilized and later that night transferred to Labor & Delivery. At about 11 pm I finally laid eyes on the most fragile yet resilient little miracle I had ever seen. I was scared to touch her but I knew I had to. She immediately grabbed my finger and I knew then that not only did we give her the right name but that she was a WARRIOR!! Everything I had been through to get her here didn’t even matter anymore. All I cared about was her survival.
Over the next 11 weeks she would experience 2 lung collapses, 2 infections, 8 blood transfusions and severe respiratory complications, one more traumatic than the next. After 80 days in the NICU and 2 weeks before her due date, our little miracle came HOME weighing a healthy 6lbs 10oz! Her coming home was seemingly the cure to all. But I found myself highly fearful of everything and couldn’t stand to let her out of my sight. Some say it’s PTSD, others say it’s normal preemie mom jitters. But I now know that it’s birth trauma that has caused me to parent in fear.
And now at 2 years old she has caught up in development and weighs a whopping 27 lbs! She suffers from Chronic Lung Disease of prematurity, Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia and Pulmonary Fibromatosis. She’s currently weaning off of oxygen and undergoing radiation to treat the fibromas on her right lung. But she continues to REIGN over the odds stacked against her. I am still fighting hypertension which I never had pre-pregnancy. But we couldn’t more grateful to have our miracle baby Reign and to watch her defy the odds!
To the mom struggling with PTSD, I pray that you find hope and strength in knowing that your birth trauma MATTERS! To the mom sitting in the NICU touching her baby through the glass, please know that you couldn’t have done ANYTHING differently! Sit back and watch God perform one of His GREATEST miracles. You do know that He does His best work in the NICU right? And to the mom who is parenting a special needs and/or medically fragile child, better days are LITERALLY ahead of you. Take it from this mom, YOU TOO CAN REIGN!! And this page is here to show you just how to do it.
Ebony Ford is a 32 year old Washington DC native. She is the proud wife of Ryan Ford, gospel artist and mother to her pride and joy, her daughter Reign Victoria. Ebony received her Bachelors Degree in Psychology and Certificate in Pastoral Counseling from Liberty University and is currently pursuing her Masters degree in Forensic Psychology. She hopes that her education and personal experience will allow her to open her own practice and specialize in near death experiences, more specifically birth trauma.
While pregnant Ebony was diagnosed with severe preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome which put her in acute liver and kidney failure. Her traumatic, near death birth story and her daughters NICU journey birthed a passion for advocacy and mentoring. Both Ebony and her daughter serve as Ambassadors for their local March of Dimes chapter and find great joy in sharing their story and serving the population most affected by prematurity. They most recently contributed to March of Dimes’ latest national campaign “It’s Not Fine” and appear in both the commercials, digital ads on various websites and social media as well as the print ads in multiple magazines .