Many years ago, one of my best friends had a baby and it was a life-altering moment, not just for her but for me as well. At the time, we had been friends for approximately 15 years and had witnessed the milestones in each other’s lives. Marriage, divorce, acceptance and graduation from business and med schools, caring for aging parents and even their burials – we had been through it all. However, now, things were different. She had given birth to a beautiful baby girl and had joined a club called “Mothers.” I would join that club much, much later through the gift of adoption but I remember her trials well: the baby throwing her pacifier out of the crib a zillion times. Her leaking breasts. Her insecurities about whether she was doing the right thing as a mother.
The ABC News segment, Dying to Deliver was well appreciated by yours truly and a woman named Anne Garrett,
who has been sounding the alarm about this devastating problem for over two decades.
Garrett, is a mom who had not one, but two near-death experiences due to preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome shortly after giving birth to her sons. The experience of nearly dying – twice compelled her to start the Garrett Singh Family Foundation which ultimately was converted from a private family foundation to a public charity known as the Preeclampsia Foundation to help increase awareness of the potentially devastating effects of preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome.
Long before the acclaimed article, The Last Person You Would Expect to Die by NPR and Nina Martin came to light (for which I am eternally grateful), an article written by Amnesty International, entitled Deadly Delivery, addressed this same issue. Garrett and I both read that article back in 2011 although we didn’t know each other at the time. She ultimately reached out to me based on my prenatal book, The Smart Mother’s Guide to a Better Pregnancy, and my description of the maternal death of one of my sorority sisters, Dawn Fleming from preeclampsia. In addition, she reached out to me because I am an African American OB-GYN physician and she knew that women who look like me die from preeclampsia at a disproportionate rate in compared to others. Her honesty and transparency are commendable.
As we celebrate Mother’s Day across the U.S. are you aware that there are approximately 800 families representing children who never met their mother because she died while giving birth?
I witnessed maternal death up close and personal only once as a resident physician in training but it’s an experience I’ll never forget.
The patient was in her late thirties, in labor with no apparent complications but in hindsight, her age and race (African American) were risk factors. Her blood pressure was normal, there was no unusual bleeding but when she became fully dilated and we wanted her to push, she stopped breathing. We rushed her from the labor room into the OR that became pure bedlam. A code was called, and an army of physicians rushed in and frantically pumped her chest, while my chief resident’s shaking hands grabbed the scalpel and delivered the baby at Olympian speed. The baby made it. The mother didn’t, and I collapsed into one of the nurses’ arms and burst into tears. The look on the husband’s face upon learning his wife died still haunts me to this day.
“To everything there is a season” and I am happy to report that my season of discontent, health challenges and yes, even dissolution of a 25-year marriage is over and I am REALLY back this
I have missed you, my faithful readers, pregnant moms and followers who continued to come to my website even though it had been unattended to for months . . . no . . . actually a few years. I hadn’t planned on staying away for so long but like John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” In 2014, I had a vision problem that prevented me from seeing things at a distance and I had stopped driving for a year. I was visually disabled and scared. During this crisis, there were people who ran TO me in my time of need and those who ran FROM me. One day, I will delve deeper into this topic but I’m so grateful to report that my vision has improved and so has my life.
The holiday season is a time of both joy and sorrow. Tomorrow a childhood friend will be laid to rest; one of my favorite artists, Teena Marie, died unexpectedly two days ago and at least six
other people have made their transitions as well. My own father died unexpectedly on Christmas Eve in 1981 leaving a great void in our family life. Why do people leave us during the holiday
season? It has been said because they want to be remembered.
While I lamented about all the transitions that occurred in the past two weeks, one of my best friends announced that she had a new granddaughter that was born on Christmas Day. She stated that this was part of the “Life Cycle or Circle of Life.” Her comments gave me reason to pause and reflect.