When Jacqueline Stevens, MSW, a lifestyle and motherhood blogger based in Connecticut, had her first child, she described the pregnancy experience as “easy,” saying she ate a lot and was able to bring home a healthy, beautiful baby girl. However, during her second pregnancy with her son, Jacqueline experienced complications. “I remember the day that my son was actually born,” Jacqueline says. “It was the day before he was due.” Jacqueline and her husband were at the doctor’s office, and after a high blood pressure reading, she casually mentioned that was her fourth high blood pressure reading, which was indicative of preeclampsia.
She was taken to the hospital but immediately felt angry because she had been voicing her concerns for eight months, but nobody had been taking her seriously. But that anger soon turned to fear. “They induced me,” says Jacqueline. “I was sitting in the bed, waiting for the baby to come. I felt a gush of water so I told Simeon [my husband] to go get the doctor, the doctor came in, and she lifted up the sheet and said, ‘that’s not water, that’s blood — we need to perform an emergency C-section.'”
The next thing Jacqueline remembers is waking up the following morning with no baby in her stomach. “I think it was two or three hours between me waking up and then bringing me the baby,” Jacqueline says. “I had to be very forceful in making them bring my baby to me. As a Black woman, you don’t ever want to be perceived as the angry Black woman, so to be forceful in something as simple as meeting my newborn was very interesting.
She met her son the next morning, saying it was “a happy time,” but lost a lot of blood during her surgery because she was anemic. As a result, Jacqueline had to have a blood transfusion. “When you know something’s wrong, and you’re constantly being told that something’s not wrong, it almost makes you doubt yourself,” Jacqueline says.
After going through this particular pregnancy experience, Jacqueline had some sage advice to offer: speak up, don’t let your voice be silenced, and advocate for yourself. Her husband also had some advice saying, “Make sure you have a doctor who is empathetic and that understands you.”