It’s been a long time! Today is March For Moms, a peaceful demonstration in D.C. bringing to light the critical need to address the maternal health of families in our country. I won’t be attending, as my daughter had a violin recital this weekend;-) But I will be there with everyone in spirit.
In March, the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act of 2017 was introduced. My good friend, Jamie Zahlaway Belsito, reached out to me and asked if I would like to speak at a Congressional Briefing about Maternal Health. At first I was hesitant. I know that might shock some of you. But the reality is, I have experienced so much rejection from maternal health organizations, legislators, clinicians and other advocacy groups, that I decided to stop reaching out for a while. In 2016, I began to focus on what I could do in my own community to help other women who have experienced perinatal mood disorders, birth trauma and pregnancy complications. I’ve been quiet online, but loud in my community about creating awareness and educating others about perinatal mood disorders. I facilitate a wonderful peer-to-peer support group and am a volunteer for Postpartum Support International.
I am truly appalled that the United States is the only developed country where maternal mortality rates are increasing, when 98% of these deaths can be prevented! Legislators continue to ignore this growing epidemic. I decided it’s time for me to start speaking out again. Why? Well, I remembered how I felt all those years ago when I started this blog. I had been through hell. I almost died after giving birth to my beautiful daughter. I came home traumatized and was later diagnosed with PTSD. I felt so alone and was desperate to feel normal again-something that seemed unattainable. Now I’m on the other side. As many of you know, it was through talk therapy and restorative yoga that I healed. But what about the moms who don’t have the resources I have? What about the moms who can’t take time off from work? What about the mothers who died? They deserve to have their voices heard!
Black women die in childbirth 3 to 4 times the rate of white women.
Statistically speaking, I shouldn’t be here.
I am a black woman who has survived two hemorrhages. And it is because I am still here that I refuse to give up! I will not stop fighting for mothers to have affordable access to the healthcare they deserve. I will continue to be a voice for those who are no longer with us. I will continue to help mothers find support and resources. I refuse to stand by and watch mothers die in the wealthiest country in the world. Most importantly, I will continue to build connections and share my story, so that mothers know that no matter what they are going through-they are NOT alone.
Below is a small portion from my speech from the March for Moms Congressional Briefing. Thank you to Ginger Breedlove and Yuliya Labko of March for Moms, for giving me the opportunity to share my story. March for Moms is an organization that is dedicated to calling attention to the deeply concerning state of family health in the United States. As an African-American woman who survived a postpartum hemorrhage in 2010 and a miscarriage resulting in another hemorrhage in 2011, I am deeply disappointed in how my efforts to increase awareness about maternal mortality and birth trauma during the last seven years has been mostly ignored.
“In trying to educate others, I reached out to clinicians, maternal health organizations, legislators and other organizations like the NAACP. The result of my reaching out to the groups listed above has been dismal. When I lived in New Jersey, I wrote to Cory Booker. I described in detail what I had been through, what my goals were and how I hoped that we could collaborate on some maternal health initiatives. I received a response that simply thanked me for being a constituent, without acknowledging that I had almost died due to a birth trauma. I then wrote to every member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
I didn’t receive a response.
Next, I wrote to the health programs manager for the NAACP. This was the response:
‘Timoria. We do recognize the importance of the issues you’ve raised. I cannot make any promises at this time, but we will consider incorporating the message you’d like to elevate into our efforts and will follow up with you over the next several months. ‘
That was on October 19th, 2015. I’m still waiting for the follow up.
So how am I supposed to feel? How are millions of mothers, especially mothers of color who don’t have the resources I have been blessed to have, supposed to feel when they reach out and no one extends a hand to help?
We feel discarded. We feel mistreated. We feel disrespected. We certainly don’t feel like our lives matter.”