Sunday was Troy’s second birthday and I am happy to report that I didn’t cry not once. We ultimately decided to stay at home instead of going out to the children’s museum because the grandparents have a pass that would allow us to go for free, and why spend $50 if you don’t have to.
We were going to get cupcakes, but Gigi’s is closed on Sunday, so our motivation to go out stopped there. Instead we decided to honor God and honor Troy’s memory by being grateful. We focused on cleaning the house that God provided for us, and we focused on spending time together as a family.
Black history month is a month where we celebrate and acknowledge history’s most prominent figures in the black community. We talk about the hardships, and how those figures helped to shape the world as we know it today. We talk about how we, as in the black community, were enslaved, and shed some light on the racism that occurred back then, and the racism that is still occurring today.
We even talk about the mental health of our community. Many African Americans do not seek help for their mental or even their physical allignments. Many of us were raised to push through the pain. In fact that ‘toughness’ has only served to make matters worse for us. The medical community seems to be less likely to take our concerns seriously, which makes African Americans less likely to speak up.
According to the Center for American Progress(2018), “stress induced by this discrimination plays a significant role in maternal and infant mortality, and a fractured and unequal health care system and gaps in health workforce training further aggravate these racial disparities”. When I was pregnant with Troy, I would voice my complaints about the lack of extra care from my workforce. I wasn’t able to get breaks, and wouldn’t even get a chance to have water before leaving for the day. I was told that I was okay, and brushed off. I found even after the loss of my son, that I had to take ‘drastic measures’ during my pregnancy with Silas.
I had to get a doctor’s note requiring that I be given breaks every four hours. I had to learn that ‘no’ was in fact a complete sentence. I also realized that I had to be very direct at the doctor’s office. I had concerns that occurred, that didn’t affect Silas, but concerns that still needed to be addressed, and I was getting brushed off. It took me being days away from my induction to be more direct.
Some of this boils down to personality, but I believe a lot of it stems from childhood. I never felt like I was taken seriously when I went to the doctor. And even today, I still catch myself just pushing through the pain. I know so many other African Americans are doing the same thing. So many of us have been burned by the medical community or raised to just keep pushing, and we are suffering from it.
I’m currently working on putting together a PowerPoint for work about how we can make the environment safer for our pregnant employees. I was just curious if you could comment down below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org about some of the challenges you faced working while pregnant.
I’ve just been amazed at the number of people that I have talked to, that don’t even have a space where they can pump at work. So please comment or send me an email. The only way we can make improvements is if we speak up.
October 15th is national remembrance day for babies that were taken too soon. During this day, many in the loss community will light a candle to show that they have not forgotten their children. Some attend ceremonies or walks where they will say all of their babies’ names or write all of the names down.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention describes a stillbirth as” a stillbirth is the death or loss of a baby before or during delivery. Stillbirth affects about 1 in 100 pregnancies, and each year about 24,000 babies are stillborn in the United States.” The CDC also went on to explain that black women are more susceptible to loss than any other race. Sadly, a lot of stillbirths are unknown.
I found out that Troy had left us when I was 26 weeks pregnant. I had just taken that gross drink to see if I had gestational diabetes, and was in the back for the doctor to do a check-up. I tried to calm myself when the doctor appeared to be having trouble picking up on his heartbeat. I remember pleading to God as the doctor left the room to go get an ultrasound set up. Having to drive home and tell my husband that our baby boy was gone, and having to look at my ‘pregnant’ form was the hardest thing that I have ever done. We ended up going into the hospital that night because I had to be induced. I had to sit there knowing that at some point I was going to deliver my dead baby.
I was so numb. When the nurse put him in my arms, I didn’t know how to feel. He was so perfect. Nothing physically was wrong with him. He even had his dad’s angry brow. I could see that he was going to have black hair like me. He was just so perfect, but he didn’t have life.
The doctors ran some tests on me, and my husband and I turned down doing an autopsy. Everything came back normal. No one could explain why we had lost Troy. I had thought that delivering and holding him was the hardest thing ever, but really it was when I had to leave him behind. The hospital was renovating, so we had to leave our baby in an office, on a desk.
One thing you learn after going through something like this, is you find out who is really there for you. I have lost friends that just couldn’t comprehend why I didn’t want to be the referee for their marital problems. I had friends say they were going to come visit and never show. I’ve had family members ask me why did I give him a name. As if people don’t name their child the moment they discover if they are having a boy or girl. I’ve had family straight up ignore that I had Troy, and then act surprised that I don’t bring my rainbow, Silas, around.
So, today, I want everyone to acknowledge that Troy existed and he mattered. I don’t care if it makes people uncomfortable because we need to discuss loss babies. 1 in 4 women have had a loss, and some of these women suffer silently.
Below, is a preview of my seven day devotional. I wrote this as a way for healing for myself, and for others that have had to say goodbye too soon.
My sibling in Christ, I wish I could bring you in closer, and tell you that everything will be okay. I know right now that you are not ready to hear that. How can everything be okay if you just lost your baby? How is everything going to be okay when moving on seems like a betrayal? I know to an extent of how you are feeling, for I too have lost. My firstborn, Troy, was born still at 26 weeks. We had just put together his crib when we learned that he went back home. So, I do know of the pain, but every grief is unique, so I will not say that I know exactly how you feel.
It won’t happen tomorrow or even next month, but eventually the grief will begin to lift little by little. You won’t feel like every moment is suffocating. You won’t feel like giving up. Most importantly you won’t blame yourself.
Today, I ask You, Lord, to take some of the pain away. I ask You to help lift their burdens. I pray that they will turn towards You, Lord, and that they will find comfort in Your embrace. I pray that they will find ways to honor their precious babies, and that they will not dwell in their grief. I truly believe that all of our children would want us to be happy and celebrate them. So, Lord, I ask that You will be with them today as they navigate the day.