With today being one of the most celebrated days to show love for someone, in addition to it being a month designated to speak on all things black; what better time to share a little of my history and how I found unconditional love.
I was 20 years old when I found out I was pregnant. I had not planned this pregnancy. I have no plans as a parent. I have no idea what I was going to do or what I’m supposed to do. The only thing I knew for certain was that in just a few short months someone will depend on me for the rest of my life.
As time continued to move forward so did my waistline. I could clear buffets with the best of them. I’m quite certain I could have beaten most competitive eaters. I wobbled when I walked. I can’t tie my shoes by myself. I could no longer sleep on my stomach. With all of these changes taken place, all I can do is excitedly anticipate meeting my baby. My son. I have the perfect swing I know he would love. I have the cutest most perfect outfits ready. I have his bed, bottles, swaddle blankets, and binkies. However, the most important thing I have are my arms that are almost aching to hold him. I will let him know that he is loved and will forever be loved and wanted. I can’t wait to meet my son.
6 weeks before my first son’s estimated due date my body became a detrimental environment for the both of us, and for that he had to be saved. My son is thrust into the world via cesarean section proclaiming life and demanding to be heard. Little did I know that his warrior cry was for me not to worry about him because my proclamation of life was just beginning. My pre-eclampsia, the cause for my son’s early eviction, was not alleviated by his birth. In fact, it turned into eclampsia. Unfortunately, it was only the beginning of our journey.
My baby, my son, my 6 week premature love waited for me. He waited while I battled pre-eclampsia. He waited while I battled eclampsia. He waited while I battled a pulmonary embolism. He waited while my chest was drained of fluid and I gained the strength to walk to the toilet alone. He waited until past his estimated due date for me to survive his birth.
Years go by and we live our lives. He gains a sibling, I, another son, with no complications. I gain a husband and we become a new family. It wasn’t until this moment; this time in my life that I realize, that my first birth story, my almost tragic ending, is not uncommon. Although I did become a statistic, I was blessed not to become part of our country’s and the state’s shameful disparity statistic. The Maternal Mortality Ratio.
But how can this be? Why won’t they do something? What can I do? How many mothers felt the way that I did but didn’t get the happy ending? Questions that I have asked and questions that had led me to decide on becoming a doula. To educate, to encourage, to empower every woman, especially black, African American women to be an advocate for their health and the health of their baby. To help foster a community around the mother and to help impact such a grave statistic.
My 1st born, he showed me my strength, he showed me my determination, he showed me I had unconditional love and what it took to fight for it. He showed me how my life experience can help other people. The history of my birth experience, along with countless other African American women, make the bricks of my path to becoming the best birth worker I can be.
Celebrate Love! Celebrate History!