Shantell Brown was pregnant with her first child when she first joined the Duval County Health Department Healthy Start program in 2006. During the pregnancy, Shantell experienced complications due to an incompetent cervix and lost the baby at 21 weeks. It was a devastating time for her and her husband. After the loss, Healthy Start provided her with emotional support.
“I did counseling through Healthy Start,” Shantell said. “They helped me to kind of transition.”
She met with her Healthy Start counselor, Hazel Jenkins, for a couple of months. Hazel explained to her the need and the importance of processing her emotions.
“When you go through things that are hurtful and they aren’t dealt with, then there are manifestations of things on the outside that are visible of things that are hurtful in the inside,” Shantell said.
Two years later, Shantell discovered she was pregnant again. She was weary about the pregnancy because she did not want to go through the experience of losing another baby. She was only a few months into the pregnancy when the trouble with her incompetent cervix began again.
“We were in a position where we could lose her,” Shantell said. “I had already had a procedure to help us hold the baby, but that in itself wasn’t enough.”
Shantell’s doctors placed her on bed rest. She remained in bed for four-and-a-half months and took other precautions: she was also placed on a high fiber diet, having to stay in a certain calorie range and make sure to eat every two hours to keep her metabolism going. Her Healthy Start nurse, Susan, would make house visits to check up on her.
“Any questions or concerns with things that were going on during the pregnancy she was able to help me,” Shantell said.
Shantell went into labor a month early. On November 13, 2011 her daughter, Jahselah was born. Jahselah only spent a few hours in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit after her birth.
Jahselah is Shantell’s miracle. Today she is a healthy and happy one-year-old who loves to dance and show off.
“We’re just very thankful,” Shantell said.