Wait...Hold On...This Test Says I'm Pregnant?!
I honestly couldn't think of another way to start this blog then to post my honest reaction when I first took that test. Then another...and another....and ANOTHER. Reality sinking in that I was now creating a life. I felt a kind of shock that wasn’t overwhelming but it didn't hit me until I tried to in bed that night and lay awake by my thoughts.
"Mya, your seriously having a baby. Like for real, for real. A whole kid!"
"You have to give birth. Wait, you have to give birth like with your body."
I sat up in bed and prayed. I had this resounding anxiety sitting on my chest when thinking about birth. No matter what all my heart wanted was relief in knowing we, little baby and I, would come home together with Patrick.
I still feel sadness when I think about that moment.
This seems like a simple thing to want. Why would I be so anxious about it? Well, it's because I was no stranger to medical research and statistics. I pride myself in trying to know a little bit about a little of everything so that I'm always learning. What I had heard spoken of in the last couple of years in the scientific community and on Instagram was the high mortality rate of women of color. The CDC published an article on 2019 highlighting, "Black, American Indian, and Alaska Native (AI/AN) women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women." (2019). Like...What??? when the CDC mentions it, it resonates that maternal deaths are a global problem. The fact that the maternal death rate amounts have increased in recent years, despite medical advances, is incredibly hard to process and scary to review. So now you see my concern ladies and mamas? Y'all feel me in a different way right? My friends, my family, I could easy be added to those numbers in September.
Why is speaking out for black maternal health so important?
I wanted to talk about this because this is something that really effects me and something that I know may effect one of you too. It could be my cousin, my niece, my daughter one day! Same for one of you! Without talking politics, this is an issue that is directly effecting black women and families like myself and it should be spoke about. This problem is bigger than race. This problem is about a lack of education and compassion for mothers. Mothers of all shades. Our voices are not being heard when asking questions regarding our prenatal health. Our pain is being ignored when expressed. We are waved off when expressing changes and bodily functions that may or may not be normal during the prenatal and birthing process. These things need to be brought out so that they can be evaluated and changed. One of my favorite Nurse Practitioners once stated to me, "People love to say, "That's the way we've always done it." Well, if everyone said that, we would never move forward and CHANGE."
That is why I write.
This is also why I wanted to highlight #blackmaternalhealthweek that is April 11th-17th. It was started by the organization Black Mamas Matter. The goal of this week is to raise awareness and bring light to policies that can change the course of maternal health and mortality. There was already a huge discrepancy in low-income communities not being able to receive proper healthcare and lack of education and support when pregnant. Now knowing the statistics, this shows the importance and the need to support and educate our communities and future mamas. We need to do more than hand out sheets with education and set up the next appointment. We need to talk about experiences good and back. Show live demonstrations of how to speak up and what to question. Speak about normal birthing process and abnormal signs. Make sure more moms have access to resources and health care providers that make them feel comfortable, well informed, and can be trusted. They should be here to help you and support you during this time and many of them are already doing just that you just have to find them.
As For Me and My Household, We're Being Proactive
After being armed with all that knowledge, I didn't let it startle me into fear. I'm a Registered Nurse by trade and I advocate for my patients on the daily. Now that I am the patient, this process is no different than what I explain to my patients. I started with asking for recommendations from mother that I know had had good birthing experiences. I also asked my IG sisters in the Chicagoland area and got lots of great OB recommendations. In the end I chose a doctor that was recommended to me and in my insurance network, that was female and black. After talking with her in detail at the first appointment, I learned she had delivered both her children in the same hospital under the same practice, which was so reassuring to me. She made me feel comfortable and just sat down, ready for all of my questions on that first visit.
I also bought a few books to review. The first one is called ,"Black, Pregnant and Loving It" by Yvette Allen-Campbell and Suzanna Greenidge-Hewitt, M.D. The other is, “Oh Sis! You're Pregnant" by Shanicia Boswell. I also followed a bunch of Mommy bloggers of all races to read more experiences while pregnant and birthing. Then, I went digging for a doula. As a first time mom I wanted a good partner that would understand my choices. If you don't know what I doula is it's a woman who is trained to assist another woman during child birth and provides support after delivery as well. We'll talk more about my amazing doula in another post but I'm so glad I have her and that she's able to break down my medical mind in a way my husband can understand so we can be a great team while getting babygirl home.
What Can You Do to Help?
So you might be thinking, "Mya, this was helpful and all, but I'm not pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant." Well, this is still for you. Share this blog with someone that is. Or save it for yourself to review for later just in case you get a surprise like I did. HaHa! Also, sharing resources and recommendations with other moms and mom-to-be helps to empower them to see the strength in their voice. Even if you are not pregnant, use this information when picking providers and know you have power in your choices. We are all here for each other and any resources matter!
See you all in the next one!
Sources: Racial and ethnic disparities continue in pregnancy-related deaths. (2019, September 06). Retrieved April 13, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2019/p0905-racial-ethnic-disparities-pregnancy-deaths.html
About. (2021, April 12). Retrieved April 13, 2021, from https://blackmamasmatter.org/about/