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Tameka 'Tiny' Cottle Opens Up About Losing Her Daughter

02/10/2009 at 08:00 PM ET
Frank Micelotta/AP

Shortly after discovering she was expecting her second child with rapper T.I., former Xscape member Tameka ‘Tiny’ Cottle was faced with the heartbreaking news that her pregnancy check-up had raised a red flag.

In a new interview with Essence.com, Tiny opens up about her pregnancy struggles, sharing that the sac that held her baby girl “was split in two and they had not combined by the time she had turned 16 weeks old.” With her daughter “positioned in the middle of those two sacs in her own sac,” Tiny was told to prepare for the “possibility that [the baby] could get tied up in her umbilical cord.”

Despite the doctor’s warnings, according to Tiny, the thought of losing the baby never crossed her mind. In fact, says the singer, her doctors informed her that all was well with her baby, as things seemed to be under control. A trip to the specialist the following day however, proved otherwise. “When I went to see the specialist, that’s when they determined there was no heartbeat,” explains Tiny, who delivered her stillborn daughter six months into the pregnancy.

Surrounded by family and friends to avoid her mind from wandering and being “so sad,” both Tiny — who found herself “very upset and depressed for awhile” — and T.I. spent the hours after the birth in the hospital room with their daughter Leyah Amore.

For the devastated mother, the idea of leaving the hospital without her baby girl was understandably hard to swallow. “Here I am in the hospital to have a baby, deliver it, but I’m going to go home with no baby,” says Tiny, who admits she continues to “keep [Leyah's] belongings near me — pictures and roses [from the burial].” While the songstress realizes that her form of grieving may seem “crazy” to others, she “just needed to be with” her baby girl.

“After Leyah was born, I kept her in the room with me the whole day. They placed her in the little basket and we dressed her in an outfit and had a blanket wrapped around her. They came and got her because her body went cold and I wanted her back so they warmed her body again and I kept her. Everybody came to visit her and then me and [T.I.] had our time alone with her.”

Continue reading for more on Leyah and the unexpected turn the couple’s relationship took.

While the family held a “beautiful” funeral service for Leyah, Tiny admits she rarely visits the gravesite — apart from “holidays and special days” — as the memories leave her “too sad.” Despite the heartache and immense grief from the loss of their daughter, Tiny and T.I. found their greatest comfort in each other, eventually announcing their second engagement. Tiny — whose “experience taught me not to take life for granted” — shares that the tragedy surrounding their daughter “definitely brought us closer in our relationship.”

In addition to Leyah, the couple are also parents to Clifford ‘King’ Harris III, 4, and Major Harris, 9 months. Tiny has daughter Zonnique Jailee, 12, while T.I. has Messiah, Domani, and Deyjah from previous relationships.

Source: Essence.com

FILED UNDER: News , Parenting

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Showing 40 comments

Lauren on

i can’t even begin to imagine the heartache she and tip faced with losing their daughter. i’m glad they found strength in one another and in their relationship. hopefully they can continue to be there for one another while tip heads to jail soon, and they’ll be able to eventually move on as a couple raising their children.

g!rocks on

I give my condolensces for her loss! however, i never heard of parents keeping their dead child in a room all day & than the nurses heating the body back up? is this a normal process that happens a lot? just curious, thanks.

Melissia on

To answer the previous poster’s question, this is done as part of the grieving process. These parents will only ever have these few hours with this child for the rest of their lives. A few hours is certainly not unusual, all day would be even better, for the family to gather and say goodbye. The process of holding the baby is a secure and safe area while other family members arrive, or while mom recovers from the physical aspects of the birth, then rewarming the baby using warm blankets, this allows family members some time gather the emotional resources to begin the process of saying goodbye. The process and paperwork of a stillbirth usually takes several hours if not all day, so this is usually done in conjunction with taking care of mom as she recovers from the delivery of her baby.
Hope this helps explain the process.

MerryBeth on

Being the mom of three angels myself, I find her grieving process perfectly normal. I”ve never heard of them ‘warming back up’ the baby’s body, but it makes perfect sense to me. Whatever it takes to hold on to the memory of her being alive. Their heartbreak is something I know all too well, so their family is my thoughts.

Molly on

Im so sorry for her loss of this precious baby.. :( I though dont understand how it did not cross her mind about losing her. I am 19w pregnant with my first child and i dont think about anything else but fears of loosing the baby. I cant help it and I’m so scared !!! And I dont even have any complications. How does one not think about it? I would like to learn some tips cause it totally drives me insane

millefleur on

I appreciate them opening up about this. Miscarriages and stillbirths are devastating, and can happen to anyone.

MamaP on

This is the most heartbreaking story I have ever read. What an incredibly strong woman to go through something like this and come out okay. God Bless her and her family.

ifelicious on

Sad news to have to share with the entire world, but it let’s us know that celebs are people, too.

kate on

my sympathies are with tameka and t.i. rest in peace sweet lelah. as a women’s health nurse, i often warm up the baby for the parents and visitors before i take them in the room. it can be shocking to the family to touch the baby’s hand or face and it is cold. it makes the situation more real for them. when my grandmother died, i remember touching her cool hand and it startled me – that’s when i truly realized she was gone. at the hospital we always dress the baby and put them in a little basket as well so the family can take pictures and spend time with them. so i completely understand what tameka is talking about – trust me it is not strange at all.

Maddy on

This is so heartbreaking. I am writing my senior thesis for nursing school about perinatal loss and the different ways of grieving and handling of the situation. Seeing, clothing, and holding the baby occur quite frequently from what I’ve found and the majority of hospitals offer this as an option for grieving parents if they so choose.

I don’t remember reading about Lelah before. My heart goes out to their family.

g!rocks on

Thank you melissa for letting me know about this heart breaking process! I know a lot of babies pass from birth but i never knew exactly what happens after! I pray for Tameka and all the mothers who have lost! RIP little angel!

Erin on

To answer g!rocks question, that is perfectly normal. My son was born at 22 weeks he died a few hours after he was born. The nurse bathed him, dressed him and brought him to me in my room. I got to hold him take a few pictures with him. It may seem weird or strange for someone who hasn’t been through this to think of having a picture of your dead baby as creepy, but it’s the only memory I will have of his beautiful face. I kept him with me as long as I could, It gave me time to say goodbye, I knew he wasn’t there in his body, but it helped give me the closure that I needed because I would never get the chance to see him again. My heart goes out to this couple, the loss of a child is something no one should ever have to go through.

Alessia's Mommy on

On November 13th 2008 my sweet baby girl Alessia, was stillborn due to a cord accident similar to what was discribed in this article. I had her with me as long as I wanted and they took pictures of me holding her for which I am very grateful. This is all I have of her. When you lose your baby you have to take the few short memories that you can grasp onto and hold onto to them as tightly as you can because that is all you get and then they are gone forever. Alessia is still my daughter and she will always be. Her picture is in a frame in my living-room and she is in my wallet and when I am asked how many children I have I include her, I just state I have this many on Earth and also my angel in Heaven. Being able to spend that time with her after her delivery didn’t take away the pain but it did help with the transition of letting go of her. I was able to give her kisses and say good-bye and tell her how much I loved her. I don’t think I would have been able to handed it as well had I not been given that opportunity. My heart and my arms and still ache for her by at least I was able to spend a bit of time with her.

Lissette on

I’m very sorry for them. I admire her for sharing her story.

Nana on

I appreciate her sharing this very personal & traumatic experience with the world. I can’t imagine how difficult this would be to deal with & overcome. It should make us appreciate everything we have & not take a normal preganancy & birth for granted. Thank God we only have aches & pains to complain about. My heart goes out to them & everyone that has been dealt this terrible blow. And I know she is also pregnant again right now so that’s great news.

Mo on

God Bless TI and Tameka for their loss. I work in a hospital as well and it’s very normal to dress the babies up for the family and they do take pictures and the babies have little basket like bassinets that they are placed in. It’s so sad and may seem weird to some, but at the same time, its very normal and it helps the family alot in the grief process.

UggaMugga.com on

I admire her and any other parent who has gone through such a tremendous loss…what unimaginable strength you posses!

I’ll be hugging my children a little tighter today.

Evy-Miami on

I too lost a little boy at 20 weeks, I went into premature labor and had to have this baby knowing all along that he was too young to survive.All this was happening while we were in a hurricane warning in Miami, Fl. Perhaps if that had not been the case they would have tried to save him. But on the other hand I was given the opportunity to have him and hold him for a short while. The nurses at the hospital were so caring and they even took pictures as well. My husband did not agree with this as a matter of fact he was in a corner crying and would not even come near. I felt very differently, I had this baby inside me for 5 months and had bonded, I just cherished every moment with him. I did donate the baby to research because they suggested it and even that decision was haunting to me. I wondered what happened to him and why did I do this. It was very painful too to leave the hospital without a baby while everyone had one. The emotions of a miscarriage are incredible, the pain you feel in your heart only you know. I was able to get pregnant again and was happy it was a little girl instead, this allowed me to grieve my little boy. God Bless to all that go thru this and now I see my little girl and say deep inside, you are here today because I decided to try again knowing that there was always the possibility of another miscarriage because I had fibroids.

Kaylee on

I had a son that died from SIDS, 5 years ago… I still miss him every single day. I thank TI and Tiny for opening up about loss, and thanks too CBB for posting this, I am in tears as i type. Thanks again.

Nicole on

First of all, I commend Tameka & TI for speaking out about losing Leyah. So often, stillborn babies are forgotten or ignored by the world, and that is so unfair. I’ve never had to go through this myself, but I have a friend who lost her son to a cord accident on her due date, and for her the process of birth and holding him was one she will never forget. They have a living child now, but always include their son in their Christmas cards, etc. They do memorial walks, his mommy has a blog, etc.

I am so sorry that they had to go through this. It is an unspeakable tragedy for any parent to have to bury their child, much less one who never got to be a part of the this world. As the saying goes ‘we are far richer to have held you for a moment, than to have never held you at all.’ RIP Leyah.

Monique on

Everything she did was completely normal and although extremely hard to do at the time, will help them so much in remembering their sweet daughter and grieving her loss. I had losses at 14wks, 11wks and at 24wks delivered my son Sebastian who died 3 days later. The few hours we had with him were SO important – they’re the only hours we would ever have! I appreciate Maddy for writing her thesis on this subject, it’s one that sometimes gets glossed over but happens so much more than people realize. It will make you an even more compassionate nurse for your patients! Blessings to Tameka as she goes through a new pregnancy – it’s an emotional roller coaster!

Kaylee on

I meant I lost a son, not “had” I still have him in my life, heart and spirt everday. Just had to clear that typo up. And my heart goes out to every mom out there, happy v-day!

Debbie on

To all you mothers out there who have lost a beautiful baby, I admire all of you who share your stories.
Blessing to all of you!
May God Bless all babies and keep them safe!!!

Sarah on

I love that she kept the baby with her. I had never heard of warming the body back up before!

We lost our son at 18 weeks and we kept him with us all day and took many photos. I’ve received both negative and positive remarks about that and just chalk it up to ignorance for the negative remarks.. glad to hear that more celebs are being open about their losses (though I wish that nobody had to experience that type of loss to begin with) just hoping maybe it will make more people aware that it doesn’t make a woman insane to hold her dead child or photograph him/her.

Brandi on

Tiny is not pregnant again right now, that was a false rumor. There is a denial on her friend Sandra Rose’s site. Her story is heartbreaking. Thanks to all the moms on this thread sharing their stories. They are hard to read but very moving.

jennifer on

God bless Tiny and T.I-I have never suffered a still born or an infant death and I have 3 children of my own. Good Luck to her and T.I. and they will have more beautiful children soon I am sure…..God Bless!!!

Beth on

My mother lost her first three babies right after birth. It still breaks my heart every time I think about it. How someone could be so strong to go through it not once, but three times. It was her dream to have babies and I’m so glad she was able to have my sister and me. She is the strongest, most wonderful woman I have ever met and I’m glad to call her mom!! It makes me feel so much better, to know my mother isn’t the only one that has been through such a devastating loss. RIP Sharon, Katherine, Brock and all of God’s other angels.

Maddy on

Monique,

Thank you so much for your comments – they will help motivate me to write. I’m still reading research but am about to begin a rough draft. I’m am so sorry for your losses. It helps so much to hear about what you feel like helped you, being with your son. I plan on taking what I learn writing this so that I can compassionately care for my patients through whatever difficulties they may encounter.

Best wishes :)

Julie on

I lost my daughter during my eighth month of pregnancy years ago. I understand exactly how she feels. The only thing that got me through was knowing that my daughter was safe in God’s arms and nothing would ever harm her.

ericka on

“They came and got her because her body went cold and I wanted her back so they warmed her body again and I kept her. ”

Oh gosh that made me cry. How incredibly sad and something I could never imagine having to go through, so heart-wrenching.

Mrs. Collins on

The sad thing is I lost my daughter the same day she did and I was 24 weeks pregnant as well. I had just had a ultrasound the month before, telling me it was a girl and she was bouncing around all over the place, full of joy. Then one month later, they found no heartbeat. As I was at home the day deciding if I wanted to go in the very next morning to deliver my stillborn baby, or wait a week or so, I started receiving several text messages telling me Tiny had lost her baby as well. I delivered my angel the very next morning, and it was very devastating. She was so cold and stiff. They immediately cleaned her and let me and my husband hold her. Then they took her out of the room, took some finger prints and photos for a album they put together for us. They even made us a birth certificate. We kept her in the room with us for a couple of hours, but after awhile it was just too much to handle, and I just wanted her to rest in peace. We now have a beautiful 21 week old son, who is the joy of our lives. But we will never be able to forget Makayla Summer Collins, our angel, gone too soon! I pray for people who have to experience anything like this.

lady3 on

All this time (even here on cbb) the baby girl was reported to be named Llayah Amour. So her name was Leyah?

I wish her strenghth.
TI/Clifford is going to jail so she’ll have their 3 kids on her own. Do Cliff’s 3 other kids live w her?

Robin Lee on

My heart goes out to T.I. and Tiny on the loss of their precious child.

I am another mother who lost a child at 22 weeks. That was over 9 years ago now.

After I had given birth to my son, he lived for a couple of hours. We had him baptised and were able to hold him and the hospital dressed him and took pictures. I remember at the time thinking it was strange that the nurses wanted to dress him up just to take his picture but as time went on I was so grateful that they had done this.

One of the hardest things for me was how it seemed that no one wanted to talk about it because they were afraid of upsetting me. But to be honest, just hearing his name was music to my ears, and it also helped me to move forward in so many ways because someone had validated that my child existed.

RIP ^i^ Dakota Michael Lee

Becky on

I feel so much for every parent who has ever lost a child. I had a baby girl on Oct. 1, 2007 and lost her nine days later due to a fatal chromosomal defect. We found out 4 days after she was born that no matter what the doctors did, she would still die. I could not imagine the shock and surprise of having a stillborn or premature baby. We decided to take our little angel off all the machines because we didnt want her to hurt anymore and so she could finally rest in peace with no pain(they were having to give her morphine because her organs were shutting down).We had time with her before she died to prepare ourselves, I couldn’t imagine haveing only a few hours or none at all. God bless every parent who has ever suffered a loss and remember that you are not alone.

Shelly on

My heart goes out to Tiny, and her form of grieving is not strange, you cannot judge someone unless you’ve been there, and therefore know how you would react to the situation. The device they use to warm the baby is called a Panda warmer,(not the typical bed kind you see in nurseries) part of the component looks like a vaccum, it has a tube attached to it and a “blanket” so to speak which goes over the baby or child to keep the body temperature from dropping too much. I know this from my own personal experience as I watched my 7 1/2 month old daughter die from a horrendous infection related to medical negligence.

Shelly on

P.S. regarding the device used- blankets can also be used as stated by another poster. I don’t know if the device I referred to is avalibale in most regular hospitals, but I do know that it’s available in most Children’s hospitals.

erica on

i deeply sympathize for all mothers who have lost a child.i am a mother myself to a beautiful 5 yr old son who i had a difficult pregnancy with due to diabetes and with the grace of God made it into the world safely.i admire their strength to share their stories.it makes me realize that children are God’s most precious gift and Iwill definitely be hugging my little angel more too.

jessica weaver on

So sad too go threw so mush. She will always be in gods hands
Trust and believe. Love yall

Clarissa on

I know exactly how you felt I had a stillborn @ 9 months, In September 2008 my only son, Im still grieving, I felt the same way I had a c section, I just I kept my son in the room with me allday also I do not think its crazy, until someone actually go thru loosing a baby during death, they will never understand.

brianna on

That is so sad😩😲☹👆✌💓☝👪

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