I was 19 years old when I experienced my first pregnancy, and for the most part, it was relatively easy. I was very active, and my eating habits were what I believed to be pretty great. I mean, my cravings were carrots and celery! Yet I still had a premature birth with my son. Though only three weeks early, it was something I indeed was not prepared for.
Interestingly, the birth itself was a breeze compared to my second pregnancy. I had my support system- Mom, sister, and husband (at that time boyfriend), but still, I was so nervous about the unknown. Anxious to meet my new baby and worried about what would happen to my body afterward. So when the doctor said, "It's time to start pushing," I immediately became nauseated. The nurse brought over a pan for me, and I pushed twice; the third push, I threw up, and out came my beautiful baby boy.
Just four years later, I experienced my second pregnancy. This one was not relatively as easy. I was not as active during this period of my life, and my number one craving was crawfish. I was gaining weight at such an alarming rate, at which point my doctor told me, "Layoff the fast-food mama." But it wasn't just the fast food. It was the seasoning of the food I was eating as well.
I found out I had developed preeclampsia during a scheduled appointment. I didn't quite understand what that meant and all of the risks that came along with it. I was advised to drink more water and lower my intake of salt. So clearly, I would have to give up my crawfish cravings, ugh! I was almost six months pregnant when I started experiencing more severe preeclampsia symptoms. I went to the emergency room one night because my legs were so swollen, and I could not kick a horrible headache.
I was immediately placed on bed rest and restricted from leaving the hospital bed unless I used the restroom. During this pregnancy, though, I was not as nervous; for some reason, I was not grasping that this was a life-threatening complication. After one long week in that hospital bed, the nurses/doctor came and stated that it was time to take the baby out. Very quickly, everything got real! My precious baby's heart rate was dropping; I had an oxygen mask placed on and what seemed to be many meds being pumped into me. The medications given very well may have been routine, but I was out of it after birth. I could not remain coherent and felt as if I was not going to make it.
I was lucky enough to have a great support system in my corner to advocate for me because I did not feel as though I was being heard. It's essential to have a support system while giving birth, especially as a Black Mother. Unfortunately, it is common that many Black Mothers are not being heard; The CDC reported an alarming fact- Black Women experience maternal mortality at a rate of two to three times higher than that of white women.
We all know that not every mother has the same experience when giving birth. Many things can go right or wrong. Some moms are more prepared than others. And some mothers are even more experienced than other moms. But I learned just because you had one pregnancy that went a certain way; it is not guaranteed that your next birth story will be the same. Be it good or bad; no two pregnancies are created equal.