On November 28, 2016, I received a phone call that would alter my life forever! I was asked to come in as soon as possible to discuss all lab results. I had recently consented to an HIV test and also to check the chromosomes of my unborn child. I was almost five months pregnant. In my heart, I instinctively knew my child was fine, however, I didn't feel the same in regards to my fate. I begged the nurse to give me the results over the phone. She responded by letting me know that I needed to come in for an in person appointment. My heart dropped yet again.
I arrived at the clinic with my two youngest children. Sitting in the waiting area everything appeared to move in slow motion. A barrage of thoughts swirled through my head. My nerves were all over the place. Finally I heard my name called. I immediately snapped back into reality. The walk down the hallway to the office room was as though I was walking to death's chair. The nurse walked in and said, "Ms.Thomas, I'm not going to beat around the bush. Your HIV test came back positive." In that moment, my heart dropped in my stomach. I felt numb all over. Her words were final.
There was no going back. I remember thinking, I have to be anywhere but here. If only I could, in that moment, rewind the hands of time. I can recall feelings of sheer shock moving to pure rage and anger. I began screaming, "THIS IS NOT REAL. I'M GOING TO KILL HIM." Immediately, a caseworker rushed by my side to comfort and calm me down as another nurse removed my children from the room. I could faintly hear the wails and screams of my children crying for their mommy. I knew then that I must gather myself for their sake. The nurse asked if I'd like to call my children's father. I nodded yes. After what in my mind felt like eternity, I heard his voice. With tears in my eyes, I charged in with, "WHY, WHY, WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?!" He wanted to know what I was referring to. "I'M HIV POSITIVE DAMMIT!" I screamed into the phone, "WHY?!" I was met with silence on the other end. An answer wasn't to come. I started in on my rant again of I'm going to kill him. A caseworker who was on staff that day asked to speak to him. As I handed her the phone, I was yet again filled with many emotions; betrayal, loneliness, lost, confused, angry, damaged. The list went on.
Related: On the "Best, Worst Day" of My Life, I Tested HIV Positive
I needed the comfort of my babies. I reassured the staff that I would behave. My children needed me. They had to be my focus now. I had to do everything I could to assure that I would be the parent to raise them. I was scared, scared of what others would think about me, how they would feel about me. I felt ashamed and unworthy. Nevertheless, I knew I had to shift my focus because my three babies needed me, my unborn child needed me. I couldn't continue to allow them to see me torn and broken. I had to be strong. Right then, I knew my life would be different. I began to feel a spirit of peace overcome me.
The next day, I began treatment. In the beginning of January 2017, I developed pneumonia and was hospitalized. Through God's grace, I fought off pneumonia and was able to leave the hospital. As my due date drew, near my viral load and CD4 numbers began to improve. On April 10, 2017, I delivered a beautiful, healthy, HIV-negative son. Shortly after being born, my baby developed acidic blood. He was losing a lot of essential minerals and electrolytes after completing his six-week AZT medicine. As time moved on, my son began to get better and stronger. Watching him fight encouraged me to fight just as hard.
Slowly but surely, I began to put my life back together. I had to release the poison that had built within the walls of my heart. Bitterness was eating me up inside. I had to release the new me. I knew I had to live in my truth. The truth of this is my life and I'm taking charge. I won't allow this to overtake me. I wanted to make sure I could help others, so my LIVE IN UR TRUTH foundation was born. So here I am, focused on building my foundation that I can pass on to my children one day and they can proudly call it their own. I truly believe my children will greatly be impacted through having parents who are HIV positive. I want them to be proud of me. I want them to understand that they can be whatever they desire in life. I want my children to have a solid foundation to stand on and be able to extend the love they were raised on to others. It is my hope that they LIVE IN THEIR TRUTH and help make life a little easier. So I'm taking over this thing called HIV, that may win the battle with my human flesh one day but with my LOVE, SPIRIT, LEGACY and others, WE will win the WAR! I have turned my Havoc Into a Victory! This is what HIV means to me! LIVE IN UR TRUTH!
Wanona Thomas is the founder of the LIVE IN UR TRUTH foundation.
[Note from TheBody.com: This article was originally published by HIVE on Nov. 29, 2017. We have cross-posted it with their permission.]