There's no better feeling for a woman than giving birth to a child. So imagine desperately wanting to have a child which would show the love that you and your husband share, only to suffer miscarriage after miscarriage after miscarriage. That was the world of Shenique Riley-McKenzie, until the evening of Wednesday, April 9, when she delivered by Caesarean Section a beautiful daughter. She and her husband Arnold Azard McKenzie decided to name her Azzariah Noella McKenzie.
Little Azzariah weighed in at six pounds, four ounces. When Riley-McKenzie who was awake to watch the delivery heard her daughter's first cries, she said all that went through her mind was: "Is that really my baby?" When she finally saw her, she said "Thank you Lord!"
For the McKenzie's, both 33-years-of-age, Azzariah's birth is the perfect Mother's Day gift after eight years of marriage. As far as Riley-McKenzie is concerned, she says despite Father's Day not being celebrated until June 16, Azzariah's birth is also a Father's Day gift and an anniversary present for her husband. They will celebrate on Tuesday, June. 17
The self-employed mother and her customer sales representative husband saw Riley-McKenzie carry their first child they tried to have all the way into her sixth month of pregnancy, before preeclampsia struck. The disorder occurs only during pregnancy and the postpartum period and affects both the mother and the unborn baby. It is a rapidly progressive condition characterized by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine. It is the leading global cause of maternal and infant illness and death.
She went to the hospital, where a nurse informed her that she couldn't hear the baby's heartbeat. Riley-McKenzie was rushed into surgery for a C-section. The child — a boy — died. That unfortunate event Riley-McKenzie says sent her into a state of depression for a year, something she believes happened because her life wasn't Christ-centered at the time.
The woman who has a smile that can brighten a room, and turn the frown on another's face right-side up, went through a period of suffering, but she was able to speak to other people who went through the same ordeal she did and that helped. The Christian ones would say to her that God knows all things. It was comments like that, along with encouraging words from her family members, which she said started to bring her around.
"Listening to other people talk about their miscarriages, helped, along with going to church and hearing the word," said the born-again believer.
Riley-McKenzie and her husband then decided to try for a second child. She miscarried at the two-month mark. She and her husband tried a third time. She again miscarried during her second month of pregnancy.
For Riley-McKenzie, the fourth time was the charm. She and her husband weren't really trying to get pregnant — but they also weren't taking precautions. They left it all in God's hand, after praying about it, and doing her best to remain positive.
On an odd random day, she decided to go into the bathroom and do a pregnancy test, even though she says she didn't have any pregnancy signs. When the sign showed positive, the only thing she said to herself was "Am I really pregnant for sure?"
She went to a doctor who specializes in high-risk pregnancy and found out that she was approximately two weeks pregnant. The doctor gave her a second test two weeks later to be positive, and confirmed Riley-McKenzie was pregnant with her fourth child.
From the onset, things were different. With her first baby, Riley-McKenzie was sick, with Azzariah she says she did not have any morning sickness.
"God made it where the first three was us being prepped it seems, and this one he made it different. I didn't have morning sickness, and even if I had the feelings of the past I just prayed over it and pled the blood," she said.
But after three miscarriages, her doctor enforced bed rest on Riley-McKenzie in her fourth month, and stitched (cervical encirclage) her uterus.
"The first two months [of bed rest], it was quite strange just to be home in the house after being someone who was always on the go. But looking back, I feel it was like God telling me to be still and let him do the rest. The first two months felt a little strenuous, because the last two babies I'd lost were in the first two-months. At four months, I then said I had to make it to the sixth month mark, which was the miscarriage of the first baby.
"When I got there the devil played tipsy-toe with me, but I had to shake that off. I went through the first portion and got through to nine months." Her emotions ran the gamut from happiness to anxiousness and joy. Azzariah came into the world at 9:17 p.m. weighing six pounds, four ounces.
Her birth, is the best Mother's Day gift Riley-McKenzie says she could have gotten. She says she felt like she asked God for something and he gave it to her when he felt it was the right time, and not when she wanted it.
Despite her faith, she wasn't immune to questioning why over the years. "You have people who have been married for years and they don't have kids, then you see others have them, but can't take care of them, and you want a child.
"I feel he had these things prepped, and he just wanted to see how faithful we were to him," she said adding that there are moments she just stares at her beautiful daughter in awe — especially when she's asleep.
Riley-McKenzie became emotional reliving the turmoil she's gone through in her quest to become a mother, only to come out on the other side with a "sweet" bundle of joy.
When the world celebrates Mother's Day on Sunday, May 11, Riley-McKenzie's friends and families will finally be able to tell her Happy Mother's Day, even though she felt like a mother prior to Azzariah's birth, because of her three earlier pregnancies.
"Azzariah is my Mother's Day gift, and for my husband she's his Father's Day gift.
With a baby to nurture, grow and teach to be a beautiful, respectful young lady, Riley-McKenzie's wish is for Azzariah to get to know God, the one who allowed her to come into this world, and to become attached to Him.
"God had everything planned and prepped, and it was in his time. God knows exactly what to do and when. You just need to be patient, relax and wait on him."
With her first child born, Riley-McKenzie is looking forward to trying for a second child, but she says it will be in another two years.
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