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'You can do it': Pregnant mom finishes college paper while in labor, earns an A

During labor, Nayzia Thomas finished a final paper. A picture of her working has gone viral, and she hopes to inspire others.
by Meghan Holohan / / Source: TODAY Contributor

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After Nayzia Thomas learned she was pregnant this summer, people asked the college sophomore if she’d take it easy during fall semester. She said no; she would attend school and work full-time, just like any other semester.

This work ethic carried over to giving birth. While in labor, Thomas finished a final paper. As she worked, her mom snapped a picture, which has gone viral.

“I was at 2 centimeters when I was finishing the paper,” said Thomas, 19, of Kansas City, Missouri, who is studying psychology and neuroscience at Johnson County Community College. “The contractions were painful, but I have a high pain tolerance. I thought ‘Before this gets unbearable, let’s get this done.’”

For about two of her eight hours of labor, Thomas wrote the paper on dissociative identity disorder. She began proofreading as the contractions intensified.

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“Luckily, I was done with my paper,” she said. “The contractions are all bad. They get worse as you go along.”

On Dec. 12, she delivered son Anthony, nicknamed AJ, who was 6 pounds 15 ounces and healthy. But her introduction to motherhood wasn't as smooth as her studies.

When AJ was lying on her chest soon after birth, she felt something was wrong.

“I got really lightheaded and really woozy,” she said. “I wasn’t feeling right, and I blacked out."

Nayzia Thomas feels stunned that the picture of her writing a college paper while in labor has gone viral.
Nayzia Thomas feels stunned that the picture of her writing a college paper while in labor has gone viral.Courtesy Nayzia Thomas

After Thomas delivered the placenta, she continued bleeding. Eventually, doctors stopped the bleeding and gave her fluids. She felt extremely exhausted after she finally woke up, but dismissed the feeling as a side effect of having a late epidural. But even after the new mom was discharged from the hospital, she struggled to breathe and experienced pain in her chest.

“My chest was hurting really bad and when I moved, I (couldn't) really breathe,” she said.

Her mom, Aisha Kelley, insisted the nurses measure her daughter's vital signs both while she was standing and sitting. While her vital signs looked normal when she was seated, they increased when she stood. Doctors re-admitted her to the hospital and gave her a blood transfusion, noting that her hemoglobin and oxygen levels were extremely low. The transfusion seemed to work.

“I felt so much better,” she said. “I feel like a completely different person.”

Nayzia Thomas' son Anthony was 6 pounds, 15 ounces when he was born
Nayzia Thomas' son Anthony was 6 pounds, 15 ounces when he was bornCourtesy Nayzia Thomas

After returning home, Thomas learned she received an A on the paper, and finished the semester with a 3.5 GPA.

Her original tweet has been shared more than 28,000 times and liked more than 130,000 times. She felt stunned to learn that her story reached so many people.

“I was just sharing the moment,” she said. “I live my life every day, just doing what I am supposed to be doing."

While only a week old, baby Anthony seems very relaxed and happy.
While only a week old, baby Anthony seems very relaxed and happy.Courtesy Nayzia Thomas

“You can do it. A lot of things in life (are) mind (over) matter,” Thomas said. “You have to be strong and you have to fight through it.”

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