Imagine this: You’ve been pregnant, fives times before. Had no live births. Had two consecutive abortions. Then, three consecutive miscarriages. The last miscarriage, being a late-term miscarriage. Thus, only leaving you with all too real memories of fetal kicks, baby movements and a child with a name, who was, but never will be.
And then, just like that! God decides that He’s not done with you. In fact, He’s just beginning. So, less than four months after losing your daughter, who never was, you find out you’re pregnant. Again! Yes, yes. Again.
What are you to think? How are you to feel? Where are you to put all of that stuff, that you have yet to process? And when are you supposed to be able to, figure all of this out?
But, before you can even begin to digest this huge and very new reality, the world hits you HARD!
It’s your first initial prenatal appointment. You’re scared. You’re nervous. You’re going over in your head, all of the questions you didn’t ask last time around, that you’ve promised yourself that you’ll ask this time. You’re thinking sooo hard, about all of the procedures you okayed during the last pregnancies, that you’re not so sure you want to okay this time.
You’re doing your best to remember, all of the promises you’ve made to yourself, and most especially your passed on unborns. All of the promises, about what you would fix. How you would fix it. Why you wouldn’t let it happen again. All of the promises to be better this time. Not perfect. Just better.
Your mind keeps replaying, the most important promise that you made to them and yourself. The promise to get it right, if you ever got the chance again. The promise to make their sacrifices, righteous, and if nothing else, not in vain.
All of this floats around your mind. Skipping within your heart. Flowing through your veins. Bouncing about your spirit. And then. Then, a nurse practitioner walks in, and all of a sudden, your anxious reality quickly becomes fused into her biases. Her assumptions. Her judgments. Her thoughts. Her opinions. Her ego. Her HER.
All of a sudden, your YOU, disappears into mid-air. And all of a sudden, all you’ve been through up until this moment, vanishes into the void of power, privilege and inhumanity. You’ve entered the danger zone. Where doctors don’t practice medicine to save lives, but instead author their egos into the lives of the most vulnerable.
That’s as far as I’ve gotten, into my ability to fully process the unimaginable medical horrors I faced, during this last pregnancy. In my mind, I literally go from that place of becoming just another poor, Black, pregnant woman, sitting in front of a privileged, White, fresh out of med school, emotionally removed nurse practitioner… to seeing Kamaria’s head, push itself out of my vagina.
Everything in between that December morning, where my humanity began to disappear right in front of my eyes, and that July morning that my humanity slowly began to return to me, is a blurry blur of hurt, pain, desperation, struggle and the refusal to LOSE ever again!
“You can’t hurt someone, who don’t feel no more.” – Shaq Gee
I see the first nurse practitioner’s name, Ana- Gabriela Bourne. I see the blatant anger and disgust written all over her face, and seared in her condescending tone, after I decline an unnecessary vaginal exam. I see my face, as I fight back my tears, while making a complaint to her supervisors about her openly discussing my personal health information, freely in the clinic hallway, after I wouldn’t submit to her demands.
I see my determination to find another clinic. Another caregiver. A “real” doctor. I see my foolish belief, that there had to be someone who would care. Who would do their job. Who wouldn’t insist on trying to kill my unborn, but instead, help keep her alive.
I see the second clinic registration. I see my experience go south, before I even made to my first official visit. I see my belief that I’d find someone, anyone, who actually practiced medicine with Medicaid recipients because they truly wanted to help, and not hinder, start to fade. Slowly. But surely.
I see my desperate search for a midwife, with availability and willingness to accept Medicaid. I see my hope in prenatal medicine begin to grow again. I see my inspirational belief in the “natural birth” community, as my saving grace, begin to blossom. And I see each blossomed petal, quickly wither and die, one initial midwife consultation, at a time. Until the blossom, just becomes a blemish.
I see time passing way too quickly, for my failing medical situation to catch up. I see me at 7 months pregnant, having gone through two clinics, seven midwives, several doulas, and still… no luck. No nothing. But fear. Desperation. And more fear. I see me finally giving in. And giving it all to God, just praying for the faith to simply make it through to the other side, with two lives and not one, this time around.
I see my third clinic trial visit. I see me finally ignoring the rude staff, peculiar clinical practices and staff proclaimed “mandated” policies. I see me believing, I might just get a break. I see my heart shatter, when the clinic calls right before my first visit, saying they don’t accept my insurance. I see me call several more nearby clinics, to learn I’m either too far along to be seen or my insurance isn’t accepted.
And then, the real horror begins to flash through my mind. I see the last clinic I tried. My last hope. I see the name, ‘Jamaica Women’s Health Clinic.’ I see the first doctor, Dr. Sharma, who is more concerned about finding something wrong with me and my unborn, than giving me tips on how to continue a healthy pregnancy.
I see my realization that I am a walking statistic. That I am literally living the WHY of the reality, that Black women in New York City have the highest rates of miscarriage, stillbirth, childbirth, postpartum and infant mortality.
I see me become enveloped in the indescribable pain of realizing, that this is not personal. I am simply, just one of many Black women, whose babies are not wanted alive, and that there truly are no health care professionals willing to risk their jobs, to change that reality.
I see my river of tears, after my return home from every visit. I see my sobs to my mother, as I continually relive examples of proof, that these doctors want to kill my baby and/ or me, and there’s nothing I can do to fight back. I then see that sadness and desperation, quickly turn into powerfully ambitious anger and vehement determination.
I see my last doctor- OB/ GYN, Dr. Kemoy Harris. I see her lie to my face during every visit, with a smile on her face, that only a wolf in sheep’s cloth could bare. I see her telling me that, if I don’t take antibiotics for an infection she admittedly isn’t sure that I actually have, that I will surely have ACS called on me, as soon as my child is born. Given that, my baby girl is actually born alive.
I see her continue to look for anything and everything wrong with my unborn and I, disappointed each time her search comes back unsuccessful.
“Children are not the problem. They’re the solution.” – Shaq Gee
And then, it really gets blurry in my mind. I see my water breaking at 11 pm, two weeks before my due date. I see my desperate prayers to God, for more time to find someone who won’t try to kill my child and I (during my now pending delivery), come back answered opposite of what I wanted. What I felt at that time, I truly needed.
I see the paramedics being kind, giving me false hope again. Hope that these doctors, won’t be as evil as every single one that I’ve encountered thus far. I see the ambulance pull into Mount Sinai Beth Israel, and my heart get lifted up to God, in righteous hope, faith and strength.
I see me feeling like the night team doctors, appear to be what I asked for. And then, I see everything changing very, very quickly, once the morning team arrives.
I see my quick realization, that this morning doctor is surely against me and everything that I believe/ stand for. I see my struggle with managing the worse pain I could ever imagine, with my growing understanding that he has no intent of respecting my right, to autonomy over MY body.
I see my anger rising, as I confront the reality, that his doctor and/ or male ego, is grotesquely at war with my belief in my body’s ability to do what only God, could usher it to do. I see the last conversation I held with God, that finally forces me to accept that this will only end in devastation, if I don’t get out of that hospital. And fast!
I see my mom and I, staring down a team of very huge men circled around me, with a fake friendly woman psychiatrist, paired with an even faker friendly social worker-esque woman.
I see them looking at me as if they’re going to tackle me, if I dare take one more step forward, toward the door that separates my freedom and hope of keeping my child alive, and the devilish doctor who’s ego insists on the opposite.
I see me fighting through contractions, with a now, more than five centimeter dilated cervix, while arguing with these hospital staff, for my RIGHT to leave this hospital. I see them ignore my request for an ambulance, to transfer me to the nearest hospital.
I see me finally walking out, after an hour of fighting, with only the strength of God, giving my legs the power to forget the pain in my abdomen, and most especially, the fear in my heart.
The rest is essentially, still blacked out. My mind’s images go from those hospital entrance doors, to me in the bath tub, at home, looking at a black oval shape, sticking out of my vagina. And then, I cry. I cry. And I cry. Every time. Including right now, as I write.
I cry because she’s alive. Because I’m holding her right now. Because she’s breathing. And I cry because, her being born alive, was only the beginning, not the end, of the fight for her life and my freedom.
The next two and a half months, of fights with more inhumane doctors and hospital staff at New York Presbyterian Downtown… an evil-minded NICU neonatologist… a poorly trained, grossly biased and sadly jaded ACS worker/ supervisor duo… a presumptuously judgmental, deviously motivated pediatrician… far too many unconscionably unprofessional, nonprofit workers… and everything in between… is beyond too much to process, yet. Most especially, because I’m still in the thick of it.
I can only say these two things…
One: if you dare to have ownership over your health decisions, autonomy over your body and/ or rights to your medical wishes, you better dare to be just as dangerous, as the doctors’ who professions and training you suddenly threaten.
And two: the policing of women’s bodies, most especially if you’re pregnant, is the most important tool in Satan’s desire to pervert, dismantle and destroy God’s most beautiful creation: the human life.
That’s all I got for right now. Until next time. Until, my mind can catch up, to my heart’s healing. A’se!