Black Maternal Health Week is important for women of color. During this week, people shed light on the infant health disparities between the African American community and other communities are significant.
According to March of Dimes “The preterm birth rate for black women in the state is 44 percent higher than the rate among all other women and 55 percent higher than white women. Women of color are most at risk of facing pregnancy complications, and black women are more than three times as likely as white women to die from pregnancy-related causes.” As a woman of color, I'm sharing my story today to reflect on God’s grace because I was fortunate.
I conceived pretty easily. After two months of trying, by month 3 it was official. I was pregnant. Ask any of my close family and friends at the time how stressed I was during that short time about conceiving, but it happened for us rather quickly. After becoming pregnant I began to get a little bit sick. Then next thing I knew I was diagnosed with the flu. At the beginning of my 1st trimester, I was terrified, frightened, and shook! The doctors told me that I would have to take medicine that might put my son at risk. I had no choice because my temperature was now breaking 105 degrees. I took the medicine and days later I was fine... thank goodness,
The rest of my pregnancy went pretty easy as well. I stayed active. I went to work everyday and I was able to do my everyday activities. I was spoiled by my husband and my mother. I ate bagels with bacon , egg and cheese everyday and I didnt get fat. It was the time of my life!
By the 8th month, my baby shower had just finished…. The shower went great but the behind the scenes was a hot mess...
SHOUT OUT TO MY TRIBE for helping! I remember telling everyone at the shower that this little boy wanted to come out early. Everyone told me to stop saying it…. and that I was crazy but I knew my body. I had brought it up to my doctor too… but it went ignored for a while….at On least two visits I mentioned my pain…. But I was told it was normal….. I would take our dog, Spartacus, out for daily walks as part of my exercise routine after I had just finished my bacon egg, and cheese bagel but as the days went on it became increasingly hard to make it around the block.
The next day I was scheduled for a doctor's appointment. I knew I would bring it up and be adamant about it. Due to my urgency, they ran an additional test and my midwife told me that my water was drying out and that I needed to drink plenty of fluids. SPEAK UP ALWAYS!!!!.... I took the midwife's orders seriously and I brought Gatorade and Essentia water and was drinking it constantly.
It was time for my next appointment, and I felt the same way…. My husband who was there for every single appointment couldn't make the next one. He had just started a new job and it was day two for him….. so I brought my mom with me. We went to the doctor's office as we usually did, waited, got the sonogram, and waited for the Midwife to come in. I was shocked when she did because it wasn't my normal Midwife. Her name was Tanya and she told me that today I was going to have my baby. I immediately yelled profanity out loud and said how…. I was only 34 weeks. I felt fine …..I didn't feel like I was dying ….. and she told me basically that the water around him was too little and that I would have to head to the hospital. I was terrified but I knew it…. I had told them before...my body was letting me know the week's prior….
We waited in the hospital. I was there with my mom who was always by my side and my husband arrived later...We had to be transported to another room. During this time, I mean it had to be a 2-minute journey down a small hallway …. We saw a woman being rushed into a room having a seizure and her husband was pushed out of the room by a doctor. He was in tears asking “Will she make it?” … I remember being worried even more. This was not the image to help any rising fears. I felt terrible for him and worried about her too even though I did not know them.
After being rolled in a room, I was told that I was not dilated enough and that they were going to use some sort of balloon to help me. Sounded legit. They told me it may hurt …. I said I'm a G. Well…. Baby !!! That thang hurt! I was in so much pain the entire time they filled up this balloon to stretch my cervix. It worked… but I asked for the epidural right after. I couldn't take anything more than that…. How was this baby going to get out of me if that balloon thing almost killed me !!!! I got the epidural and it was night night for me... well us.... lol
The next day came and I began to get contractions. Because I had little to no water they called it a dry birth and I pushed for about 2 hours. After about a good 7 or 8 pushes at the end Daniel was here! Dj was loud and they took him, like most babies for observation. They told me I could eat so I did… my favorite pepperoni pizza with a Ginger Ale. I ate up and waited to hear about the whereabouts of my child… where was he at??? They should have finished cleaning him up by now right???
I was told that my son had blood in his lungs and that they were working on him….
Working on him…. ????? WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
I was also told that I wasn't allowed to see him yet either… another blow… Who doesn't see their baby after they have them??? I felt like a bad mother… Later on that night ( mind you he was born around 2pm) I was stressed...it was 7pm… I was getting flooded with text from family wanting an update or news but I had none …
Once I was able to see him…. I became so excited and as I entered the NICU, I realized I was one of the lucky ones. Many of the babies in there were much smaller than DJ and children of color…. And although he too had tubes in his throat and nose… his size when compared to others... eased my mind, but I was still worried. He wasn't holding a temperature, and was diagnosed with jaundice…..
The nurses in the NICU were angels, guiding me on breastfeeding techniques and more. They also sent me to my room to rest because I didn't want to leave him down there. I wasn't allowed to take him to my room like the other moms on my floor. My roommate was able to see her baby whenever she wanted… I was hating
… I wanted mine… …but I had to wait … basically set up an appointment and then kindly be kicked out by a nurse who saw I was more tired than I thought.
I was told he would be released over the next few days, and that I would be released after three days. I couldn't believe I would have to leave him there. I would go back and forth to the doctors over the next week, ensuring he was fed with my pumped breast milk, at home, I pumped and cried… I wanted him there...I made friends with other moms who had to deal with lifelong issues due to preterm birth and I came to realize how lucky I was to only experience a portion of what they had to….
I share my story today to just reflect and think about how important it is to speak up about things when you know they aren't right with your body… to let you know that you are not alone on your journey… that there will be people along the way who will help you and encourage you….and to let you know to ask questions constantly…. I am extremely thankful to have pushed out my lil man and I would do it ten times over ...including all the anxiety and uncertainty I felt. Today Daniel is in second grade, reading in Spanish, kicking butt in Karate, playing baseball, and bringing us joy daily……
Today, I also send love to those who have experienced child loss and birth complications in my heart. I was fortunate to have healthcare that supported my journey but not everyone does. Women of color I love ya... Black moms, I love ya……and I demand more for us….
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