As a community-focused company, Kabrita USA strives to be inclusive and to continuously celebrate diversity. In honor of Black History Month, Kabrita USA is featuring a BIPOC Parenting Series, for the entire month of February. The BIPOC Parenting Series centres BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) parents’ experiences. Our goal is to enhance greater representation of BIPOC parents in the media, as well as to amplify BIPOC voices and stories.
Today, we are sharing Autumn's story about her pregnancy and delivery experience.
When I realized that I was pregnant again in October of 2019 I felt all the typical emotions you are used to hearing, (excitement, anxiety, & overall happiness, to name a few!). I dreamed of our baby shower, being able to take my partner to ultrasound appointments, & taking maternity pictures to commemorate this beautiful time in our lives. I had no idea that 2020 would bring in a global health crisis and pandemic that would completely reshape the way that my pregnancy and delivery went.
Studies show that black women are 243% more likely to experience complications related to childbirth than their white counterparts. Making a birth plan for black women is already different - you must make sure you have people around that will advocate for your best health interests and most of all, LISTEN to you because the staff may not. Making a birth plan in the COVID era as a black woman is even more difficult because, at least in my experience, you only get to choose 1 person. 1 person to make sure you get to make it out of the hospital to raise your baby - and the staff. I do not say this as an attack on any healthcare professional, I say this in the hopes that others may begin to understand the added amount of worry and weight that WOC have on them before they enter the labor and delivery doors.
When I was made aware that I could only have one person in the delivery room by my side, I immediately began to make a list of nominees. My boyfriend, Ashanti, is active-duty military (navy) and was stationed in another state at the time of our daughter’s birth. The COVID restrictions put in place by the military meant that there was no movement allowed (yes, no travel unless necessary) so I knew that the chances of him getting to our home state in time for the delivery were slim. My mother is immune- compromised and although I would have loved to have her there with me, it would have put her at unnecessary risk for COVID. When I thought about who would be there for me and my daughter, who would make rational decisions, who would advocate for me, I had only one other person come to mind - my aunt Tareya. I asked her to be my “person” for labor and delivery & she did not hesitate in saying yes.
On May 1st, 2020, I was induced 22 days before my due date because of preeclampsia. It was unexpected, I went in for a regular prenatal visit and ended up in labor and delivery. As I sat on the hospital bed with my mask on, I asked if I would have to give birth while wearing it. I think she could sense my nervousness because the nurse in the room assured me, I would be fine and that they would take care of me until my person got there — & and even after then. My ob-gyn stopped by to say hello & when I asked if he would be delivering my baby, he simply said it was not his day for deliveries but wished me well and left. I checked my phone for the 30th time to see where my aunt was & continued to FaceTime with my partner while I laid in the hospital bed and got my foley ball (induction method - real fun time) inserted.
The nurse, Brianna, sat with me so that I would not be alone, and we bonded instantly over Grey’s anatomy. I told her how I would never forgive Shonda Rhimes for the death of Derrick Shepherd & after a while I admitted to her that although this was my second child, I was nervous about being in the delivery room without my mom. She held my hand and said she was sorry I had to give birth during such a hectic time. I could not see her smile behind her mask, but I could sense it in her eyes & that was enough for me to relax. Brianna listened when I told her I was in pain, she held my hand while I got my epidural, & she even sneaked me extra popsicles.
About an hour later, Tareya made it to the hospital & my labor started going faster. She was everything I needed her to be- she asked questions, kept me distracted, & our family informed. Finally, at 9:57 PM after about 10 hours of labor, my daughter Amari Daevon made it earth side with her father hearing her first cries via FaceTime.
In the end, I was glad I was prepared with my person & able to deliver my baby girl safely and healthy. I am thankful, even now, for the nurses who connected with & looked over me during my labor. However, this is not the case for so many other BPIOC women who give birth. The problems WOC/POC face in healthcare are still very real - my best advice is to speak up for yourself and your care. Have a support person, even if it is VIA phone to help advocate for you + your baby. And above everything else, always have a plan, a backup plan, and a plan after that just in case.
Kabrita USA BIPOC Parenting Series shares genuine stories written by parents from the BIPOC community. Each story offers a different perspective from their personal parenting experience. To read more stories, please visit our Nourish Blog.