I am Nikkita and I am not your average woman, I am a black woman.
A woman who stands at five feet, six and a half inches tall with skin the colour of milk chocolate. My eyes are almond shaped, evenly spaced and brown. My lips are full, my nose round. My body is firm and muscular not like that of a body builder but that of a runner.
You see, I have been an athlete for more than half of my life. A runner; a hurdler in fact. I have been taught to excel with physical barriers in front of me – to attack each hurdle with no fear. This, my running has given me more privileges then one can actually imagine. I graduated from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor’s degree and NO school debt – a full scholarship does that! Upon getting my education I pursue a life as a professional athlete which I continue to peruse. For some this is only a dream, but for me this is my way of life.
Most people know my name for the accolades I possess, Olympian, medallist. I am not your average woman, I am a black woman, two – time Olympian and international medalist in the 100 meter hurdles.
This is only a piece of my story.
Those moments…when you realize the very thing, you’ve been running from, trying so hard not to become you become. It’s as if the fear somehow leads you right into the hands of what you so desperately didn’t want. All your “smart” decisions and choices don’t seem so smart after all when you are starring at the “mistake” in the mirror.
On January 14th2014, I watched my then husband pack the back of his new car with his belongings as I held our two-month-old son in my hands. He was leaving us to pursue his career in the United States, the same career I had put on hold to have our son. I watched him carefully with so much emotion. I didn’t know what it meant for our relationship, yes, we were husband and wife but in those moments, it didn’t feel like it. I was angry – and all I could think was “I’m married, but I am now a single mother.” I had become the very thing I had worked so hard not to become. I was black and a mom raising her child alone – the very thing society looks down upon. I mean I had to be realistic, there is only so much a father can do to “help” raise his child when he lives miles away in another country! I wasn’t sure how this was all going to work out but part of me knew that all of it was going to fall on me, my shoulders, the weight of his world. I was about to embark on a journey I had no desire or business embarking on.
My days were long, hard and sad, I couldn’t for the life of me get passed the way my life had turned out. I did everything right – or the way society tells you to do it. I feel in love, I got married and had a baby and still I found myself raising my child alone. I was alone or so it felt. I wish I was prepared! There is something to be said about being in the dark. Being scared! “Set your eyes on a prize” they say, “no matter what it is, dream, work hard and achieve!” My dream was something of simplicity – to rise again and be free. Be free of the sadness that lived within me, be free of the blood that ran through the veins of my mini me. Be free of all the pain, the self- doubt, the second guessing and all the other doubts in between.
My divorce nearly killed me – bringing me to my knees.
“Grab on to someone and let them carry you through” they say, so I latched on and flew. Kaedence I called him – the beat, the rhythm and the rhyme of my heart. He is my sun, the shiner of my light on every waking morning, the bringer of my joy in every quiet moment.
I wish I was prepared for the love and time he would transform within me. This love for you my child is all consuming, this love is indescribable too hard to put into words. Your love for me, your constant love for me no matter if I do wrong or right is love I can’t deny.
He is the blessing I never knew I needed. The one who set me free from all my hate and foolish pride.
Did I tell you I am not your average woman? I am a black woman with accolades but most of all I am a mother, I am his mother. I am a black woman who is single, raising him because my heart beats with Kaedence!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
The golden boy and his golden balloons!
I always took pride in the name my parents chose for me: Nikkita. I mean, there is not very many people named after a song that has a music video to go with it. "Oh Nikita you will never know..." Elton John created a good one! "In your little corner of the world you could roll around the globe and never find a warmer soul to know". Every time I hear the song it makes me smile and the music video just cracks me up. I always heard conflicting stories from my divorced parents on how I was named, but the one thing that remained constant was the simple fact that my mother wanted to be a bit different with the spelling of my name, but in the end it was simply chosen because both of my parents liked it. Over the years of growing up I took a great interest in my name. I was curious. There were stories from my dad about the Russian president Nikita Kruchev’s influence. From my mother, there were stories about the Young and the Restless characters Nikki and Ashley who also had some influence on my name. Both stories I somehow believe as I ended up with the name Nikkita Ashley.
In high school I took it upon myself to figure out what my name really meant, its origin and particulars. I was pleasantly surprised at the meaning. “Nikkita” the way my parents decided to spell it, a variation of its Original Greek form “Nikita” meaning: “the peoples victory”. I remember thinking in those moments of discovery “how fitting, my parents couldn’t of picked a better name choice.” From there my fascination with names grew. I found it so cool how a name, any given name, came with its own meaning and origin. Like a personal identity. I loved my name and as I grew older, its meaning started coming to fruition with my own journey.
I knew early on, before I even got pregnant with my son, that I would want a name for my child that would be fitting. A name that would provide adequate reflection of who they are, or who they aspired to be. When I was 22 weeks pregnant I sat in the bucket seat of my family’s minivan as we drove to Pennsylvania to watch my younger brother’s football game. Something we always did and still do as a family every chance we get. I was sitting there daydreaming of the future days with my son. Originally, I was naming my little guy Ryott Aurelius. Yup, the name of an undiscovered X- Man. I was looking for something different, something unique. Ryott was a name that attracted me, though I'm not even sure for what reason. His Middle name Aurelius was chosen because of my love for history and my respect for greatness. Marcus Aurelius, the great Emperor of Rome, seemed fitting as my child would be a great leader someday as well (I hope).
Prior to that car ride I knew the name Ryott was no longer working for me. Something just wasn’t sitting right with me. You could say it was a feeling - I just knew. As I sat in the back with my daydreams I could hear a woman’s voice on the radio in the background. She was calling into the local radio show, engaged in light conversation. Her voice was sweet, which seemed to paint a picture of who she was in my head, her personality, her features etc. Her laughter was kind and the tone of her voice genuine. I was touching my tummy in and out of daydreams as I starred out the window. "Cadence, my name is Cadence” I heard her say. I swear, magic! I touched my belly overwhelmed, for the first time in my 22 weeks of pregnancy I felt actual movement from my son. This wasn’t just the butterfly movements all the baby books describe you will feel. This was a damn summersault with some back flips off the walls of my uterus. It was in that very moment of excitement and gratitude that I knew Ryott was surely not this child’s name. His name would be Cadence; it was just a feeling that I felt - it was the right name. I smiled “your name is Cadence Aurelius!”
Now that I had that figured out his name the only thing left was to figure out the spelling. I had only known those with the name Cadence to be female. My child was not female but that didn't matter to me as it was the commonality of the spelling that was more the problem.I'm mean after all my parents spelt my name with a double "K" rather than a single "K". I scribbled down a multitude of spellings, it had to be perfect just as my name was perfect. As I scribbled down various versions, I became stuck on two spellings: Kaydence and Kaedence quickly choosing the “AE” spelling. I chose "K" instead of "C" simply because of my name, I mean I did have an extra “K” to borrow and I saw it as an extension of me, “when two becomes one", and the "AE" because it just looked cool in any style of writing. His middle name, Aurelyano - the Italian version of Aurelius - not my first choice or my choice at all for that matter! But in order to keep the name Kaedence and the disagreements at bay, his father chose his middle name. Which to my surprise, ended up being the name I wanted all along slightly altered in pronunciation but holding the same meaning and significance with. So needless to say I was happy. In my eyes anyways, it’s still Kaedence Aurelius on technicality so to speak. But either way you look at it he is still my very own rhythm of gold.
Oh, I guess I should explain where the gold comes from. Aurelius or in Kaedences case Aurelyano means "the golden one" in Latin.
#myheartbeatswithkaedence #mystrengthisinthekaedenceofmyheart #rhythmandgold
What do you know? Days after Kaedence turned 10 months he decided that he was “man” enough to take his first steps. After a few weeks of being too nervous, laughing and giggling, as he would inch his toes forward. At 10 and a half months he then decided that this half step wiggling toes thing just wasn’t for him anymore and he took the leap into a full stride. 16 steps at a time before he would get tired and reverted back to his much more comfortable crawl position. By 11 months he was confident. Walking was his thing and running was about to be his favourite. Running from me that is, hands up in the air clutching some article that he shouldn’t be holding. Each step again came with a giggle and an attempt to run faster. The “get away man” I like to call him…
When I look at my son I smile about the progression in his steps and it makes me think. It is amazing how children just have the “will” to do things. Kaedence flirted with the idea of walking early by getting familiar with standing tall and strong to then taking his first steps to now full on running, can I just remind you this child of mine is not even a year yet!
When I take a moment and look at my track career I look at it with a positive foot forward, remembering my little boys tenacity in wanting to take his first steps. 2012 I’d say is comparable to his first steps. That year I took my “first steps” the steps that gave me hunger, the hunger that I need to further propel my career and making my dreams come true. My 16th place finish at the games by far is, I guess you can say, a great job to the “average” person but to a competitor it is almost the lowest of the low. I’m ready to take off running much like Kaedence, hands in the air holding a piece of hardware in my hand that DOES belong to me. A representation of all the previous years of blood sweet and tears I have left on the track.
There is no room on the track for second-guessing only room for those who know what it is that they want, its time for me to take my many steps with determination, love and hunger!
Many of you may not know the way that my son came into this world. It isn’t a tragic story or one that requires an abundance of “awes” but it is “my” story, actually it is “our” story. October 29th 2013 was my due date, the day that my son was supposed to make his presence known, but we obviously both had a different agenda (I was ready for him to be out).
Pregnancy is an amazing thing. One of the many wonders of the human body I believe, and I realized it was going to completely change me. Throughout my pregnancy, my goal was to do things as natural as possible. I prepared my mind and body as much as one can possibly prepare for a natural approach. Originally wanting to give birth at home, I later decided against it. (Something I will reconsider in the future for more children if I am blessed with that gift again). My choice to change where I gave birth was a personal choice that was mainly governed by fear. I opted to use a midwife as oppose to the traditional obgyn to fulfill my desire of all things natural. My midwife was amazing but I was still a tad bit anxious about the idea simply because I had never been pregnant before nor given birth before and a hospital just seemed like the place I needed to be. As sad as I was about it I also realized that I could still continue with my plan of having a natural birth in the hospital.
When the first pain hit me I looked at the digital clock that was across the room in front of our bedroom tv, and it read 2:30am. At first, I wasn’t sure what I was feeling was actually a contraction, but I clued in very soon considering my mucus plug had fallen out a few days earlier. It couldn’t be anything else right?! After a half hour on restless anxious sleep I decided to call my midwife. By 4am she had shown up to the house, quiet but excited. She had checked me on the floor in my living room. “ let your legs just fall and relax” she said. I was ONLY 1-2 cm dilated, and truthfully a part of my spirit was sad and at that moment I knew it was going to be a long battle but totally worth it at the end.
My contractions were all over the place painful to a degree, but my mind was made up that I was doing this naturally and I was going to do everything in my power to accomplish my goal… pain or not. I popped in a Buddhist cd I purchased on one of my many European travels during one season, sitting on my purple exercise ball hunched over my dining room table swaying back and forth while piecing together the pieces of my autumn scene puzzle of 1000 pieces between contractions. When that became uncomfortable I alternated from the ball to the tub for some hydrotherapy. It was just after 6pm when my midwife came back to the house for the 3rd time of the day to see the progress I had made. My contractions had become more consistent by this time, coming every 3-4 minutes. She had checked me and I was 6cm dilated, it was time to make a move to the hospital, I was seeing the light!
I have heard stories about the car ride to the hospital and from what I gathered it was the worst part of the whole labour process, but for me the drive over was the BEST part. My contractions weren’t as ravaging and it was just peaceful. I arrived at the hospital sometime between 7-8pm prepared and ready, but my son had a different agenda, my contractions had changed. After breaking my water to try and jumpstart labour, the contractions decided to cooperate but something was different. 24 hours into it and my water being broken I had somehow managed to regress in dilation. My midwife decided that it be best we consult with the on call obgyn. Sure enough something was different, my baby had somehow managed to get himself stuck. He was resting on my freshly torn hip nerve from a track injury right before I became pregnant. My cervix had swollen and regressed down to 4cm, I had two options; 1. Pitocin and an epidural, then wait 2 hours to see if things would change or 2. A cesarean section. Without second thought I opted for the c-section and before I knew it, my bed was being wheeled down to the operating room where I was given a spinal. Minutes into my 26th hour of labour my son, Kaedence Aurelyano Warner, was born on Friday October 18th 2014 at 4:16am.
I may have lost the battle to do a natural birth like I so desperately planned for, but in the end I won with the blessing of a healthy baby boy.