Black Maternal Health Week started April 11, 2021 and ends today, April 17, 2021. Black Maternal Health Week reminds me of my own birth story which I discuss in my book, “In the Middle of a Pandemic: A Pregnancy Journey”. I’d like to share a bit of it here as well. My birth plan did not go as planned but that’s usually the case right? You can make all the plans in the world and it never goes as planned. Things change. Life happens. Baby decides to come when baby comes. Your body does it’s own thing. We just have to adjust to that change. I wanted an unmedicated birth and I wanted a home birth. I found a midwifery program near me but their policy was that I could only give birth in their birthing center. I still went with them knowing this. My partner and I went through the birthing classes that we needed to prepare ourselves for an unmedicated birth and we even toured the birthing center. I thought I surely could handle an unmedicated birth since mamas made it look so easy, so beautiful and so powerful on social media! Though it really is a beautiful and powerful experience, it isn’t easy. Ya’ll lied. Omitting the amount of pain involved, is lying sis.
I had reservations with the program that I decided to go with. I felt that I wasn’t getting the proper care because I did not have one designated midwife. I had several that were in rotation. I didn’t have a midwife that just “knew me” and my needs. I didn’t have one midwife that would focus on me. I also didn’t have a midwife that was a woman of colour and I also didn’t see many faces like mine coming in and out of that office. I discovered that I wanted to change midwives well into my fourth trimester but because it was my fourth trimester, I didn’t change. I thought it was too late to do so. I should have. Not getting the proper care during your pregnancy coupled with the pandemic, is a recipe for trauma and ptsd. Yes I said it.
I ended up having my baby girl in the hospital at 41 weeks 1 day. I labored at home and ended up going into the hospital at 8cm dilated. I would have went there sooner had my midwife let me. Had she listened to my cries, I would have been admitted sooner. It was the worst pain that I’ve ever felt in my life.
I’m not here to sugar coat it for you mama. Between bouncing on birthing balls and trying to listen to hypnobirthing meditation sessions, I vomitted. The pain was unbearable.
I kept calling the midwife that was on call for the night who just happened to be one of the midwives that I did not care for. I didn’t care for her because her bedside manners were not nice. She was short with me. I could hear the agitation in her voice everytime I spoke to her, everytime I asked questions. I felt like I was really just a patient. She was seeing me, but I wasn’t being seen. She didn’t try to really get to know me and my needs. I called her several times when I was in labor but her motto was ” because you can walk, talk in full sentences, and breathe, you could labor at home longer”. I was in pain. I needed her to understand that this wasn’t a text book situation. Everyone handles pain differently. What wasn’t she getting? My water broke at home and I was in soo much pain. She told me to just sleep it off. How could I sleep when I was in that much pain? She was not listening to my cries. Had she listened, I would have been admitted sooner. Had she listened, I wouldn’t have to feel like I was begging to be admitted into the hospital instead of the birthing center. I finally had to say, ” I am in a lot of pain, and I need medication” . Something did not feel right. In the end, my baby ended up in the NICU for a week because she swolled her own poop and had trouble with her breathing.
I share this part of my story with you as Black Maternal Health Week is ending to say that I hope we continue to openly have conversations around pregnancy and pregnancy complications for black women. I say this to say that I hope you take the time to choose the right health care practitioner for you so that you can be heard, respected and understood. I share this with you to let you all know that Black Mamas matter too.
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Wishing you all lots of love + light.