By Jayla Johnson
I have always wanted the typical dream of a loving and devoted husband, big house, lavish car, and most of all-children. When I start thinking about having my future children, I think about the possibility of not even being here to feed them, clothe them and watch them pass their many milestones in life. This fear comes from experiences within my family. This dates back to July 22, 2011.
I had a cousin, age 34. She was like my second mom. She was pregnant with her third child. She had twins in 2000. She went into the hospital for a scheduled caesarean section. She had the same doctor that delivered her first two children. The delivery was a success. She gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.
My cousin sent pictures to everyone of the baby and saying everything was fine. That night her children spent the night with my family, and the next day we dropped them off to go about their schedule. Post caesarean section, it was reported my cousin said she was not feeling good.
Time passed since her telling the nursing staff of her condition and them coming back to check. When the doctors came back to her room, she was bleeding severely and was rushed to the operating room. Unfortunately, her fibroids were too big and she didn’t make it.
There she was. A woman, my cousin, a mother, who only got to see her baby girl for one day and did not get a chance to say goodbye to her other children.
When I reflect on this moment, it sends me into a slight state of shock. When you go to the hospital, you expect to receive as much medical attention as needed. As an expecting mother, you know the high risks of pregnancy. Simultaneously, wouldn’t you think because of modern medicine this shouldn’t be a high fear? You don’t expect to be ignored and end the visit with you loosing your life.
I have another cousin who is currently experiencing a health issue due to the faults of a hospital’s medical staff. My cousin is mid 30s, and was expecting her third child. She went to the hospital for severe contractions. The doctor told her it was too early to deliver and sent her home.
The next day she went to the hospital again because the pain didn’t stop. When the doctor did the ultrasound, they did not hear the baby’s heart beat. In fact, they found out the baby started decomposing. My cousin had to deliver a stillborn child.
This situation could have turned for the worse, easily.
We pay for doctors and their medical staff to ensure our safety in high risk situations. But here my family is, again, seeing the failure of our medical system.
You see similar situations arise in the news, especially amongst black women. For example, the death of Judge Glenda Hatchett’s daughter-in-law was due to improper monitoring of medical staff on maternity patients after consistently being told about the patient having issues.
When you see these stories, wouldn’t you be afraid to have children?
According to an article in the New York Times, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease are two of the main causes of maternal death. Pre-eclampsia has risen to 72 percent over the past two decades. Pre-eclampsia and eclampsia are 60 percent more common and intense in African-American women. The CDC reports that Black women are three to four times more likely to die from childbirth than white people.
The House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill in December 2018, the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act, to fund state committees to review and investigate deaths of expectant and new mothers. This bill will also allocate funds to train doctors to improve the quality of care and to make a summary of each maternal death available for public knowledge.
I still have a dream of giving birth to my children through natural conception. Putting the statistics and family experience into perspective, I, as a young, black woman really question and debate if it’s worth it although it is a major goal.