Parents: Leslie and Jessie
Hometown: Sheboygan, Wisconsin
Carried to term, lived 5 minutes
Akili Malik’s Story
It was the first week of December, 2003 when Jessie and Leslie first feared that something was very wrong with their baby. The ultrasound showed a choroids plexus cyst. They scheduled a level II ultrasound and an amnio. One week later they got the call from their doctor with the confirmation that their son Akili Malik had Trisomy 18.
Leslie and Jessie’s faith played a big role in their decision. They knew right away that they would carry to term. Leslie shares, “I didn’t feel it was my choice to take a life, it was God’s. Faith, Hope and Gods undying love for me, my family and our son played a huge role.”
They told all of their family and close friends immediately about Akili. And for their son Jessie, they were honest from the start. Leslie felt it best to just be open about it all with Jessie, “We were pregnant with his brother and that was that.”
Leslie talks about Akili’s birth, “Akili was due on March 26th, but because of the Trisomy 18 my doctor felt he may not drop. I carried so high and he didn’t want me to go over my due date. I didn’t either, the emotional toll was getting to me and I was in my 40th week. We decided to induce on March 20, but Akili was stubborn, I just think he was comfortable where he was. I was induced at 7am with in IV pitocin drip and Akili came 23 hours later. After being sick all night, having my water broken, using the birthing ball, the whirlpool, an epidural that didn’t work and then having my cervix numbed. That finally worked at about 4:40am on the 21st. I fell asleep and woke up one hour later to extreme pressure and I pressed the call button and Akili had finally dropped and was ready to make his appearance into the world. I had several friends and family that spent their day and night waiting for Akili to be born. He was born with a heartbeat but not breathing. They tried to get him to breathe and I had hoped, but while they tried that his little heart had endured so much that he just kept sleeping and slipped into Gods arms and heaven’s gates. We held him, family held him; we had him dressed and took lots of pictures. Our son held his brother; he was the first one after me of course. We took molds of his feet, hands, footprints, a lock of hair – anything to remember him by. I was told I could go home early that afternoon and I wanted to so I said good-bye to my son for the last time. I still remember kissing his forehead and slowly handing him over to the nurse. It was heart wrenching. But she was fabulous. I couldn’t have asked for a better nurse to have cared for Akili.”
In planning for his delivery, Leslie found a birth plan online that was generously shared by another woman, she made it her own. They had arranged for Akili’s funeral ahead of time. They also had family and friends available to assist with additional arrangements.
Leslie shares the things for which she is the most thankful. “I am thankful for my mother who did so much for me including take a leave of absence from her job to stay with me for a total of 5 weeks while my husband traveled for work. I am thankful for the pregnancy and the unconditional love; it was and is a great feeling. I was living for Akili and he was living for me. I prayed for him to make it to term and he did, I am thankful I was able to hold him and touch him and be his mom. I am also thankful for all the friends and family that spent their day and night at the hospital in support of me and Akili.”
“I have learned that true friends are always there when you need them; they listen and really absorb your pain as if they are trying to take it away. I have learned that life is too precious for negativity, and to seize each day as though it were your last. I have learned someone else may need my help someday, and I want to be able to help them. And most importantly without God’s true love where would my son be? I have learned to feel lucky because he now lives a life I am working to earn each day while on this Earth.”
“Akili, is a gift from God. I still cherish every moment we spent together, and although I miss him dearly I smile knowing he is pain free in eternal life. I am strong and Akili gave me a strength I never knew I had. He also strengthened my relationship with God and my church.”