Mimi G Ford was expecting her fifth child, and first with husband Norris Dánta Ford

By Morgan Smith
June 16, 2020 01:17 PM
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Mimi G
Mimi Ford

At first, Mimi G Ford thought getting pregnant was a far-fetched idea.

The DIY fashion influencer — who boasts an impressive 348,000 followers on Instagram and has worked with celebrities like Gwen Stefani and Jennifer Aniston — is already a mother to kids Ozzie, 13, Imani, 17, Lexi, 21, and Chastidy, 26. And Ford, 43, did not plan on adding to her brood.

But then she met her now-husband Norris Dánta Ford, a fashion designer and men's DIY fashion influencer. He did not have any children of his own.

"Last year, after we got married, I felt like I wanted him to experience being a father," she tells PEOPLE. "I kept thinking to myself, too, 'Gosh, if I had another baby, it would be a much different experience,' because when I had my other children, I was in a really bad place."

Ford fled her home in Chicago for California when she was only 15, leaving behind a painful childhood she says included sexual abuse from more than one family member. She stayed with friends for a bit, but became homeless at 17 when Chastidy, her oldest daughter, was only 10 months old.

Bouts of homelessness, domestic violence and other heartbreaking obstacles would follow Ford into adulthood — but as she recalls, "I did the best that I could as a single mom … and everything I went through toughened me up."

When she and Norris, 34, found out they were expecting their first child together, they were nervous but overjoyed. Ford understood how risky the pregnancy would be, as pregnant women in their 40s are more likely to face a number of complications like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and a host of other serious conditions that can cause problems for both mother and baby.

Four months into the pregnancy, Ford says she felt great. Her baby bump was growing fast. She and Norris discussed names for their child — a son — and began setting up a crib and changing table at their home in Atlanta.

Mimi G and family
Mimi Ford

Still, at her doctor's recommendation, Ford diligently attended her ultrasound appointments and requested blood work to check on the baby's condition. Sadly, an ultrasound revealed several abnormalities with the baby: his limbs weren't growing, he had additional digits and his heart was enlarged.

A few days later, Ford's doctor called with the blood results: Her unborn son had trisomy 13, a rare chromosomal condition that occurs in about 1 in 16,000 newborns, according to the National Institutes of Health. Trisomy 13 can cause severe intellectual disability and physical issues, including poorly developed eyes, a cleft lip and other issues. Only 5 to 10 percent of babies with this condition live past their first year of life.

Ford and Norris didn't have much time to process the news, she says, because a few days later, at her follow-up ultrasound appointment, the baby was not moving. He had stopped growing. Ford had miscarried.

"I could not stop crying," she recalls to PEOPLE. "I felt like I was disappointing people … I've had four children and never had any issues or complications, and I was so sure that everything was going to be fine."

Ford continues, "I also felt embarrassed, I don't understand why that would be a feeling, but I felt like I had let my husband and our families down … there's so many emotions you have at one time that it's hard to process."

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Ford had a dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedure to remove the baby the next day, just a few days short of being five months pregnant.

"That was the hardest part," she says. "I had seen the baby and the ultrasounds, it looked like a baby and it was just really, really hard to come to terms with the loss … after the procedure is done, you're sitting around like, 'What do I do now?' You're pregnant, and then you're suddenly not."

Although Ford's husband couldn't accompany her to the appointments due to visitation restrictions amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, she says Norris has been incredibly supportive — and that the experience has brought them closer together.

Her Instagram followers, too, have flooded her page with encouragement, Ford says, since the couple announced the miscarriage on their respective social media.

Ford's mother (also named Mimi) helped share the news with her two youngest kids, Ozzie and Imani, who live at home with the couple. When Ford needed to rest in bed for a couple days following the miscarriage, "They'd come lay with me, tell me funny stories and keep me entertained … it was their way of showing me some love," she says.

Ford adds that the miscarriage has not discouraged her from having more kids, either. "I would absolutely try again," she tells PEOPLE.

Instead of thinking about what she has lost, the mother of four is focusing on everything her most recent pregnancy has taught her.

"I lost the baby, but I'm grateful that I was able to get pregnant, and it gives me hope that I could get pregnant again," she says. "I'm thankful for the memories, especially that I had five months of this incredible connection in my tummy, and that has helped a lot."