Jennifer Johnson-Allums wasn't in any rush to have children. She and her husband, Correy Allums, wanted to start a family, but as a middle school guidance counselor, she saw all the challenges of raising children. • "A lot of people have the idea that it's all butterflies and cherry pie," said Jennifer, who works at Shields Middle School in Ruskin. "Especially being a guidance counselor, the kids talk to me all the time. They're having issues with this and that. They talk about issues they're having at home." • Most of the couple's friends already had children, so when they decided to start a family, everyone had been waiting. Jennifer gave birth to a son in 2011. He lived for three hours. • Now, about a year and a half later, the Riverview couple have a new beginning, and a new miracle — born Feb. 26.
She's named for the Bible's Book of Genesis but with a J like Jennifer's sister Jocelyn, late sister Jewel and Jocelyn's three children.
She looks just like Jennifer, friends and family tell her. But Jennifer swears she has Correy's dimples.
Jennifer and Correy, both 29, kept the news of the pregnancy mostly to themselves. Jennifer didn't post about it on her Facebook page. People who saw her every day knew once she started showing, but they kept it low-key, just in case.
"Throughout the whole pregnancy, I was really scared," Jennifer said. She was scared that something would go wrong, scared that the sad past might repeat itself.
But Jenesis arrived, a few days earlier than expected, after only five hours of labor.
"She's a trouper," Jennifer said. "She made it through everything."
Being in the hospital was surreal, she said, and it didn't fully hit her that Jenesis was here, that she was all right, and that she was really theirs until a few weeks after they took her home.
"The first thing that comes to mind is just love. It's a totally different feeling than I ever imagined it to be," she said. "It's hard to put into words, but I never could have imagined this before."
Jennifer wants her daughter to be happy and healthy, but also wants to see her make an impact and to have direction.
"I don't want her life to just be going through the day-to-day," she said. "I want her to have a purpose, and know it and understand it, because it makes life so much better when you actually have a purpose."
They received an outpouring of love and support from friends and family, and people they didn't know well but who knew about what they'd been through. Correy's mother especially was eager to share the news, Jennifer said, because he's an only child and this was his mother's first grandchild.
"The pregnancy, it really represented so much more than just me having a baby and extending our family," she said. "It represented hope."
Keeley Sheehan can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 661-2453.