Exclusive: Jumaane Williams, wife share challenging road to parenthood and call for maternal health bills passage – WPIX 11 New York

The journey to parenthood for New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and his wife has been plagued with troubles.

In an exclusive interview with PIX11 News political reporter Ayana Harry that aired Monday, Williams and his new wife India Sneed opened up for the first time about their challenging fertility journey.

Whatever Im going through, I cant it probably doesnt compare to what she is going through physically and mentally. Williams said during the sit down interview.

I am telling my story, Sneed-Williams said, but it is not a unique one.

Before their wedding in July, the couple knew they wanted to grow their family; Sneed-Williams has a 13 year old daughter that she and her husband are raising together.

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Id like more kids, he was interested in having children of his own but there was always some doubt in the back of my mind on if wed be able to, she said.

Years after the birth of her daughter, doctors discovered pre-cancerous cells on Indias cervix. The cells were removed, but over the next few years, they continued to return. Sneed-Williams said her doctor pushed her to have a hysterectomy: a surgical procedure to remove the womb.

Sneed-Williams was hesitant.

I told the doctor quite persistently I want kids, she said.

Instead of a hysterectomy, the couple began fertility treatments, hoping shed get pregnant. In the summer of 2020, the couple got the good news they were waiting for: they were expecting.

The joy didnt last.

We had a miscarriage, Williams explained. That was pretty traumatic.

It was painful for both of them.

I remember thinking of his mental health, and recognizing that there were no resources offered to me, no resources offered to him. I didnt know how to comfort him, Sneed-Williams said.

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Through their grief, the couple didnt give up hope: they began fertility treatments again, until this summer, when a doctor delivered a devastating diagnosis.

India now has cervical cancer.

So in telling me You have cancer, hes also telling me You need a hysterectomy.'

Sneed-Williams said the diagnosis was earth-shattering for her, especially with her wedding just weeks away.

But a few weeks after she and Williams wed, their world changed again.

Amiracle baby. Williams said. I dont know what else to call it but a miracle baby.

Now, Sneed-Williams is five months pregnant living with cervical cancer while expecting a baby girl.

Theres still fear, Sneed-Williams said.Any set of parents, any individual whos experienced miscarriage, they still have lingering thoughts. Why isnt the baby moving? Why cant we feel it? she said, adding she was always wanting to go to the next ultrasound so we can at least get some confirmation of life.

Sneed-Williams believes her pregnancy journey was so difficult in part because over the years, doctors consistently ignored, dismissed and overlooked her urgent health concerns and her desire to be a mother.

Its always been a lingering thought: am I getting this treatment because Im Black? she said.

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Dr. Christina Pardo is a Brooklyn Obsterician and gynecologist. Shes studied the longstanding racial disparites in maternal healthcare. Dr. Pardo said Black women have a higher chance of bias and racism from their physicians, from their nurses and from the system.

As New York Citys Public Advocate, Williams introduced legislation in the City Council earlier this year to empower expectant parents. It includes a maternal health bill of rights.

At a rally, Williams spoke out, saying implementing [the maternal health bill of rights] would reduce the maternal mortality rate and morbidity rates of Black and Latina mothers.

If passed, the legislation would require healthcare facilities to inform parents of their rights, including the right to accept or deny procedures.

Williams wrote the legislation after watching his wife struggle, and after speaking with Bruce McIntyre: his partner Amber Rose Isaac died during the pandemic while giving birth in the Bronx.

Like Williams, McIntyre found a calling in advocacy, fighting for the rights of expectant mothers of color.

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Exclusive: Jumaane Williams, wife share challenging road to parenthood and call for maternal health bills passage - WPIX 11 New York

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