‘IT’S A GIRL!’ I was shocked to see her hair was so white. He points at my mom. ‘Is that your mom? Are you adopted?’ I was offended. ‘Do you have albinos in the family? I think your baby is albino.’

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“I met my ex-husband and father of my children in September 2015. One morning in early January 2016 I decided to take a pregnancy test while at work because I was super late on my period. I thought I was ok since I was anemic and I would miss my periods from time to time. It was 11 a.m. and colleagues were there with me but didn’t know I had taken a test. It took me a while to leave the restroom because it was a positive result. I was, in fact, pregnant.

It was two lines, one was very pink and the other was faintly pink. I was hesitant to show them the results because I thought they’d ask me to leave or take time off. After a couple of deep breaths, I went to my manager with a worried expression on my face. ‘Shawna, I need to show you something.’

‘Are you okay? Why do you look so worried?,’ she asked.

I show her my First Response Stick. Her face lit up like a child on Christmas Day. ‘Oh my gosh!!!! LIDA!!!’ Lida is another coworker. ‘What!? Is everything okay? Are the patients okay?,’ Lida asked, confused.

‘Yes! Everyone is fine! It’s Janell! She’s PREGNANT!,’ my manager said. My admin’s eyes opened so wide I thought she was gonna kill me! They hugged me and were talking about planning the baby shower. I snapchatted my ex a picture of the positive stick. He called me with excitement in his voice, ‘Omg we’re having a baby! Omg, really! This isn’t a joke right! Please don’t kid me! This is a blessing!’

Courtesy of Janell Estrada

We went to ultrasound and the doctor told us our due date, but couldn’t tell us the gender because baby was always showing butt cheeks or would turn when it felt movement on the tummy. He proposed to me mid-January outside my job in his car. It was on my lunchtime. Unfortunately, the ring was too small for my chubby finger so he got it resized. I was so shocked when he proposed that night because we had only been dating for 5 months.

We got married on February 12, months pass, and the due date arrives! September 22nd comes and nothing – no pain, contractions, or water breakage. I decide to go to my doctor, I had no appointment for this day I just showed up and told him, ‘Doctor, today is my due date and I don’t know what to do.’ He responded, ‘Well Janell, we wait. I’m sure the baby is fine.’ I left it at that and went back home.

The waiting game was taking forever. I was drinking hot cinnamon water to induce my own labor, vigorously walking, jumping, squatting, etc. Nothing was helping. I decide to go back on the 29th. I was on the bed waiting to get induced. The nurse walked in, introduced herself and happily started explaining they were going to induce my labor around 8 p.m. At midnight my water finally broke. The doctor came in to see me and I had dilated. He uncomfortably put his fingers in to check and I only dilated 2 cm. He said, ‘Ms. Janell, we will wait until you dilate the 10 cm we need to deliver.’ I was like, ‘What!! How am I supposed to do that!’ He laughed, ‘baby will dilate once it’s ready.’ I understandingly shook my head as he left me. The nurse put some mask on my face that had an inflated bag under it. I’m not sure what it was for… it was 2:30 p.m. of September 30, 2016. My contractions got stronger, which led to me asking for the infamous Epidural. Doctor checks my dilation I was only at 4cm with no advance. He said, ‘I’ll check on you in one more hour, if you haven’t dilated to at least 8cm by then I’m ordering a C-Section.’ I was like, ‘A what?’ Doctor said, ‘A C-Section, we’ll have to open below your stomach and get baby out.’ I was like, ‘NO! I want my baby normal!’ Doctor said, ‘Well at this point it may be the only option because dilation has not advanced since yesterday and baby’s heartbeat is getting lower and lower with contractions.’ At that moment my heart dropped. I was anxious, trying to hope for the best, not to think I had baby over 41 weeks and could possibly lose it.

An hour goes by and I haven’t moved from 4cm. He disappointedly shakes his head and says, ‘You’re at risk now.’ They ordered an emergency C-Section. My ex walks in and looks at me worried. ‘What’s going on? Is baby alright?’ I tried to calm him down. He kisses me and apologized because he hasn’t been there because he was stuck at work making a living for us.

When I was finally ready, I only felt the tugging while opening me up because my whole body was moving up and down. After some time, doctor exclaimed, ‘IT’S A GIRL!’ I was so happy to hear her cry – it took a weight off my shoulders that she was well. The nurse says, ‘5 pounds 12 ounces. 19 inches long!’ Jayannie (Jay-Aw-Knee) was born at 7:45 p.m. on September 30, 2016 after 17 long hours of labor! Those 17 hours were awful!!! But I was gifted such a beautiful baby girl.

Courtesy of Janell Estrada

When the doctors closed and cleaned me up I got to the room and waited until Jayannie was brought to me. I was shocked to see that her hair was so white/blonde. Never in a million years did I think I would have a blonde baby. My ex has dark hair and I have light brown hair. It didn’t bother me nor did I put much attention on that because my maternal grandmother was very light skinned. All I knew is I was happy my daughter was finally there. She was living and breathing, and I had the chance to breastfeed her, talk to her.

The next morning, our pediatrician walks in with a puzzled look on his face. He points at my mom and says, ‘Is that your mom? Are you adopted?’ I was offended but respectfully answered, ‘Yes that’s my mother, no I’m not adopted.’ While he was checking on Jay he says, ‘Well your baby looks fine, she may have some jaundice – her skin is a bit yellow. Also, do you have albinos in the family?’ I think your baby may be Albino.’ I was fed up with him and told him off. I thought he was being disrespectful. I asked him to leave so he did.

Courtesy of Janell Estrada

On October 3rd at 1 p.m. we were told we’d soon be discharged. I was so happy to be going home with my new baby. Five days later, Jay had her one-week checkup. Her pediatrician confirmed he strongly believed she was albino. He had us referred to a Genetic Specialist in San Bernardino, California. Dr. James Bartley was very nice and helpful. He had blood test done for our Jay. It took a week or two to receive the results. Jayannie has two extra genes. He was puzzled and asked if my ex and I were related or anything like that. Our response was an obvious, ‘NO!’ He then said, ‘Jayannie has two extra genes which caused her Albinism.’ I didn’t understand but said, ‘ok?’ He then asked us, ‘Would both of you agree to lab work to see where she got the genes from?’ Of course we agreed and got our labs done.

Weeks later our results came back – both my ex-husband and I carry the albino gene. Dr. Bartley said, ‘There’s a 1 in 4 chances you’ll have another albino baby.’ At the time I only wanted one child so I didn’t mind him saying that. Little did I know, I’d soon be pregnant with a second white-haired child. We left that day with information on how to care for our child , websites of other albino information and support group flyers which were all helpful with us being more careful with our bundle of joy. We got the darkest window tint legal to block out the sun from hitting her in the back seat, we put sunglasses on her, had car seat canopy covers, she wore sun block it was as if she were a vampire. We definitely went overboard! But all because we were worried for her.

Courtesy of Janell Estrada

Jayannie grew bigger, healthy, no problems were visible. She was a happy, playful child. Months flew by and my ex hubby and I weren’t planning on it, but early April, we get a surprise. We were pregnant with our second child. This time I was worried. Not because I was pregnant but because the doctor told us our next child could be ‘normal,’ and I was worried if my second child weren’t albino, people would question the difference between them. But I was happy to know Jayannie wasn’t going to be the only child.

This time we couldn’t wait to know the baby gender. It was another girl! I started looking up names that started with letter J . My maternal great grandmother was named Jacqueline which is why I chose to name my second child, Jaclyn.

Fast forward. September 30, 2017, is just around the corner and I start planning Jayannie’s 1st Birthday/baptism. By then I was three months away from popping Jaclyn out. Everything was smooth, no complications, everything was great. A week later I had an OBGYN appointment and they were planning on doing a second C-Section. They told me Jaclyn would be due January 5th, 2018. I felt like that was forever!!!! I really wanted this baby out already. I was eager to see her. It was killing me to know if she, too, would be albino. December arrives and I started decorating the whole house for Christmas. I began to feel a lot of pain in my lower back, it was getting harder for me to walk.  I wondered why I felt like this and tired all the time.

Courtesy of Janell Estrada

December 21st at 9 p.m. I was helping my mother get ready for work when I feel a large flush of discharge on my underwear. I thought my water had broken but it didn’t wet the floor or my legs so I dismissed it. She told me to call her or my sister to watch over Jay if I needed to go to the ER. I walked to the fridge to get what I was craving which was Aguachiles (Spicy Mexican Seafood) I’ve always craved spicy food with both my kiddos. I went to sleep by 10:20 p.m., my mother calls and asks how I was, if I was feeling any pain. I lied and said I didn’t. That I was ok, not to worry and that I was asleep. We hung up and I tried to lay on my bed but I wasn’t comfortable. It was becoming harder for me to lay down.

My brother got worried, opened his bedroom door and asks, ‘are you okay? You’ve been walking for an hour already. I’m here if you need me. Your baby may be wanting to come out.’ I rush to the room and wake up my ex. Whispering and shaking him awake, ‘Hey, hey, hey.’ He sits up frightened, ‘What? What’s going on? Are you okay ?’ I told him, ‘I think Jac may be wanting out. I don’t feel good and I’ve been walking around for an hour and the pain is only getting worse.’ I get the baby bag and start packing up warm onesies for Jaclyn, extra clothes, diapers, baby essentials and my clothes.

We arrived to the hospital at 4:30 a.m. The nurse asked, ‘how long have the contractions been going?’ I said, ‘I started getting sharp pains at 10 p.m. but thought they’d be Braxton Hicks.’ Hours pass, and still nothing is happening. At 6:30 a.m. this nice, sweet doctor comes in with a warm smile. ‘Hello Mrs. Estrada, I’m Dr. Anzaldo. I’ll be delivering baby today. We’ll be doing a c-section on you correct?’ I said, ‘Yes, but when will this take place? I can’t deal with the pain any longer.’ ‘Soon,’ he said while looking down at his wrist watch.

Finally 7:45 a.m. the doctor walks in and is getting ready to open me up and get Jaclyn out. I hear her cry out like a kitten! I was so happy, I shed a tear and smiled. I turned my head to the right and see Jaclyn also has a full head of white/blonde hair. Jaclyn was born at 8:16 a.m. on December 22nd, 2017. She was a healthy baby, no jaundice, latched on my breast, no persuasion needed! I was as happy as could be.

Courtesy of Janell Estrada
Courtesy of Janell Estrada

Dr. Anzaldo walks in on December 24, and as he checks my c-section scar and baby, he gives me great news we were being discharged at 6 p.m., just in time for Christmas! We arrived at home at 7 p.m. and all had our Christmas dinner together, took Christmas pictures of both Jayannie and Jaclyn together with the Christmas tree behind them and I was so thankful to know Jaclyn was albino too.

Courtesy of Janell Estrada

Jayannie is now 2 years old and enjoying her life to the fullest. Park swings are her favorite. She has prescription glasses she wears everyday but rebels when she does not want to use them. She receives Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy due to her vision, trouble with walking, and a small delay on her words. Other than that, she’s great!

Courtesy of Janell Estrada
Courtesy of Janell Estrada

Jaclyn is 1 year and 4 months old. No prescription glasses but is seeing an eye specialist and enjoys doing what big sister does. Park slides are her favorite.

Courtesy of Janell Estrada
Courtesy of Janell Estrada

They are crazy, wild souls who drive me crazy but I would NOT change a thing!!! I love what matters, and they are who matter to me!

Courtesy of Janell Estrada
Courtesy of Janell Estrada

I am thankful for God choosing me and gifting me albino babies who I call my Albino Beauties. I am truly blessed. I always thought if I were gifted special children it was because God saw me capable of being something special for them. They both are my pride and most prized possessions. My biggest treasures.”

Courtesy of Janell Estrada
Courtesy of Janell Estrada
Courtesy of Janell Estrada

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Janell Estrada of Garden Grove, California. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more stories about children with albinism:

‘The doctor was staring up my vagina with a flashlight. ‘Whoa! He has some really blonde hair.’ AND I JUST KNEW. My husband smiled. ‘He’s an albino.’

‘Our baby had a head full of hair — WHITE AS SNOW’: Mom’s shocked reaction to albino newborn

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