“If you have this baby before you make it to the other hospital, this baby won’t make it.”
Those words are earth shattering to any parents-to-be. Yet, this nightmare became a reality for gospel singer Todd Dulaney and his then-pregnant fiancé, Kenyetta, as they were being transported to another hospital because theirs wasn’t equipped to handle her “bulging bag,” or amniotic sac.
Oh, and it didn’t help that Kenyetta was only 23 weeks pregnant. Her first-born would be a premie – if he survived the journey through the birth canal.
“[When] we got to the other hospital, they gave us all the bad news that you can think of,” says Kenyetta Dulaney while sitting next to her husband behind a piano in their suburban home. “If you have the baby, he won’t walk. He’ll be retarded. All the bad stuff.”
Just before the April 15 release of his sophomore album, A Worshipper’s Heart, which topped the Billboard “Top Gospel Album” chart, Dulaney and his wife sat down with BlackDoctor.org to talk about overcoming the hardship of having two pre-term babies so early in their relationship.
Their first child, Todd Jr., is now a healthy 5-year-old boy. But he was born extremely premature, weighing 1.9 pounds at birth.
Days before Kenyetta learned about her bulging bag in October 2010, she experienced bad cramps. Once admitted into the hospital, she was placed on bed rest for four days. Desperate for a solution, Kenyetta asked the physician for a stitch to close her cervix since the baby hadn’t yet arrived.
It couldn’t be done because her baby’s feet were hanging outside of her cervix. The physicians quickly prepped her for a C-section.
“Soon as I got on the [operating] table, I said I have to go to the bathroom,” Kenyetta remembered. The doctor told her to push and Todd Jr. came right out.
The baby boy went straight to the neonatal intensive-care unit, where he spent nearly four months fighting for his life. He suffered from respiratory syncytial virus, which is a dangerously bad cold for infants, and underwent pediatric cardiothoracic surgery to correct a heart defect.
This was a lot to grapple with for the young couple, in their late 20s, as they had just started seriously dating the year before. They weren’t yet married, Dulaney says, and they had no idea why Kenyetta’s body couldn’t keep her baby full term.
“It brought us closer together,” Dulaney explains. “Going through this together, man, we really developed a bond, a unit.”