The Real co-host Jeannie Mai Jenkins says that ‘trust issues’ stemming from sexual abuse she endured as a child meant that for years, she didn’t want to have kids of her own — but now she is excitedly awaiting the birth of her first child.
The 42-year-old and her husband, rapper Jeezy, are expecting a baby after doing IVF, but Jeannie admitted in a new episode of her YouTube show Hello Hunnay that she still worries about whether she will be able to protect her child in the way that she wasn’t protected herself.
‘It still scares me whether or not I can keep a kid safe from someone else who might hurt them,’ she admitted.
But she’s hopeful, too: ‘I’m so thankful because I’ve never felt this ready. I’ve been through so much, and I’ve survived and I’m shining. My heart is ready. I was meant to be a mom.’
The Real co-host Jeannie Mai Jenkins says that ‘trust issues’ stemming from sexual abuse she endured as a child meant that for years, she didn’t want to have kids of her own
‘It still scares me whether or not I can keep a kid safe from someone else who might hurt them,’ she admitted
The 42-year-old and her husband, rapper Jeezy, are expecting a baby after doing IVF
According to People, Jeannie was adamant for years that she didn’t want children. She and her ex-husband Freddy Harteis, whom she was married to from 2007 to 2018, never had any.
She said that she didn’t trust herself with the protection of a child, citing her own experiences as a vulnerable kid who got hurt and had no one to turn to.
In 2018, Jeannie opened up about now a family member who babysat her as a child molested her. She was just nine when the young man, who was 16 or 17, started touching her and having her touch him.
It continued through her teens, but when she finally told her mom what was happening, her mother didn’t believe her — so Jeannie ran away.
‘As a child, when you are taken from things that feel good and whole and safe, it’s hard to see anything as trustworthy moving forward,’ she admitted in her new YouTube video.
‘I realize that the reason I didn’t want to have kids is because that feeling when I was a kid was so real and so damaging to the point that I’m 42 today still dealing with trust issues and confidence.
‘People who’ve really bad trauma, they’re constantly burdened with this fear that something bad is going to happen next,’ she went on.
‘As a child, when you are taken from things that feel good and whole and safe, it’s hard to see anything as trustworthy moving forward,’ The Real co-host said
‘People who’ve really bad trauma, they’re constantly burdened with this fear that something bad is going to happen next,’ she said
‘Whenever you heard me say, “I don’t want to have kids,” it was just such a clear-cut feeling. There was no reason to elaborate on that,’ she went on.
‘My choice was, I’m better off working to better myself as an adult, because that’s a full-time project for me. Make my life better and fix what I’ve experienced, or risk ruining another person’s [life]? I’m gonna go with [bettering myself],’ she said.
‘And I was happy with that,’ she added.
While she has since changed her mind, she said she is still ‘very protective of women and people who don’t want to have kid.
‘I don’t like the guilt and the pressure that’s placed on women to have children. Just because we’re women, it means that we have the choice. It doesn’t mean that we have to have children,’ she said.
But her feelings about having a kid evolved.
She said that she and Jeezy, who has two kids already, were on the same page about not wanting to procreate together.
‘It seemed relieving, that there was no pressure on either side,’ she said.
‘What I’ve determined to do is face my fears and do everything I can to understand where it comes from so that I know it’s not real,’ she said (pictured with Jeezy)
She said: ‘I’m so thankful because I’ve never felt this ready. I’ve been through so much, and I’ve survived and I’m shining. My heart is ready. I was meant to be a mom’
‘That was our plan. But as you know, you’re always gonna have plans, and then God reminds you who’s in charge.
‘When Jeezy and I moved forward, something changed really quickly,’ she went on.
Disturbing: Jeannie (pictured as a child) said a family member who babysat her started sexually abusing her when she was nine
‘This love opened up visions and dreams of things I wanted to do with him that I never envisioned doing,’ she said. ‘Building a family. Building the type of childhood, and the type of freedom and love that we didn’t always have as kids, in someone knew.’
When they realized they both wanted to have a family together, they decided to ‘walk ourselves through the steps to heal so that we can prepare ourselves for what we want to bring to the table when it comes to a family.’
Being pregnant has had its challenges. She said that she started having vivid dreams about her childhood, including being under her bed crying and being hurt.
But Jeezy has been there for her: Amidst one dream in which she was running from her abuser and hiding in a closet, she woke up to his arms wrapped around her comfortingly, tapping her belly as her baby kicked back.
Breaking down in tears, Jeannie said: ‘I actually woke up to the beating of this baby waking me up out of this dream.
‘I’ve never felt safe in my life. I’ve never felt like the people who I thought I could trust, I could actually trust,’ she said — but she’s working to understand her fears.
When she finally told her mom she was being abused, her mother didn’t believe her — so Jeannie ran away
‘What I’ve determined to do is face my fears and do everything I can to understand where it comes from so that I know it’s not real,’ she said.
‘What I know is that I’m a mighty woman today, and my child is not gonna have the same relationship with their parents that I had with mine.’
In a previous episode of her YouTube show, Jeannie sat down with her mom, Olivia TuTram Mai, and opened up about the abuse she suffered.
The talk show host said that after her second brother was born, her mom had to get a second job that required her to be away from home more.
‘We needed to find a babysitter, so we called upon a family member,’ Jeannie recalled. ‘This family member came over every single day and stayed with me after school and became a really cool, iconic person in my life. This person was about 16, 17 and I was nine.’
Though she didn’t name her abuser, she said she looked up to him and they became ‘very close’ until their relationship took a disturbing turn.
‘I just remember one day this person sitting very close to me, we were playing video games, and he started to touch my thigh,’ she said, explaining that she rationalized the touching by reminding herself that he was a family member.
In a previous episode of her YouTube show, Jeannie sat down with her mom, Olivia TuTram Mai, and opened up about the abuse she suffered
‘I was also just stunned because I had never been intimately touched like that so I couldn’t tell if it was wrong, I just knew I was noticing it. I was almost narrating it in my head.’
Jeannie said that ‘every day the touching continued a little bit more’ until he progressed to taking off her clothes.
‘I remember him pulling me into that shower and it was the first time I have a seen a grown man and what he looked like — still nine years old — I remember him telling me to touch him in certain ways.’
‘This happened every day for a few weeks, and then it turned into months and I remember one year going by,’ she added. ‘I didn’t say anything because I was afraid.’
Jeannie’s parents were struggling with money at the time, and she knew they needed a babysitter. She said her abuser convinced her that her parents would be angry with her if she told them what was going on.
When she was about 13 or 14 years old, she tried to confide in her mom and pleaded with her to get another babysitter without disclosing the abuse.
Jeannie was heartbroken that her mom didn’t believe her, and she ended up running away from home at the age of 16 and moving to San Francisco
‘I remember you were confused,’ Jeannie told her mom. ‘She didn’t get it.;
‘I didn’t realize what you were trying to say,’ Olivia recalled.
When the abuse became ‘more aggressive’ a year or two later, she told her mom what was going on, but she didn’t believe her.
Olivia said she struggled with the allegations because she had known the family member since he was one year old. What Jeannie was saying didn’t align with the person she thought she knew.
‘I began to get angry because now I’m telling my mom that he’s taking off my clothes and you said, “I don’t believe you,”‘ she tearfully recalled.
Looking back, Olivia said she should have confronted him, but instead, she ignored what Jeannie was trying to tell her.
‘When I don’t believe it, I just let it go,’ she said. ‘I don’t see anything bad about him.’
Jeannie was heartbroken that her mom didn’t believe her, and she ended up running away from home at the age of 16 and moving to San Francisco.
After a nearly nine-year rift, Jeannie reconnected with her mom and was able to get her to understand the abuse she endured at the hands of their family member.
‘I really listened to her every single detail,’ Olivia said. ‘I was really shocked. It was a real thing.’
The mom said she confronted her daughter’s abuser and he begged her not to turn him into the authorities. Jeannie said she never knew that her mom went to see him.
‘I wish you told me that you went to his house. You never told me that before,’ Jeannie said through her tears. ‘That part is all I needed to know that you supported me and you defended me.
‘That right there is all I needed to know. That you believed me and that you listened and that you would go and try and do something about it. I just needed your support,’ she explained.
‘I feel like you just set something free inside of me because you believed me.’