I think I was somewhere around 8 weeks along when my then doctor — in so many words — recommended I terminate my pregnancy.
When I walked into his office for the first time, I had a 17-cm fibroid tumor in my womb and a history of miscarriages. He ran down a grocery list of reasons why my child may have difficulties in the womb and in life and presented the possibility that he or she would be born without arms or legs as a result of not having enough room to develop. He opened each statement with, “if you make it to 12 weeks,” and closed each warning with, “we will see how things go.”
He told me that many women “in my situation” decided to terminate their pregnancies, looking at me with large, frightened eyes that seemed to plead with me to do the same.
But I had other plans.
The thing is, he didn’t know my situation. He didn’t know that every miscarriage I experienced occurred at 6 weeks. He didn’t know that this monster inside of me — this 7-year old tumor that I never knew what to do with — hadn’t really affected me much. He didn’t know that I knew natural ways to keep it in check and that I walked into his office already healed on a spiritual and emotional level. He didn’t know me or my history, and didn’t show any real interest in changing that. I found it strange for him to tell me what other women decided to do with their bodies and their lives.
I didn’t walk into his office expecting him to coat anything with sugar. I knew my pregnancy, because of my age and my fibroid, would be considered “high risk.” I knew that my pregnancy would most likely be painful (and it was), and I knew that another miscarriage was a very real possibility. But at 8 weeks the doctor’s horror story felt premature. Aevrie was just a blip on the screen at that point. In my opinion, he didn’t have enough information to guide me this way or that.
I walked into his office expecting him to tell me the full truth. I expected him to be unsure, to give me the possible complications, but to also give me enough information to make a fully informed decision about my health, my body, and my child. But he didn’t do that. He used his words to steer me in a direction that I wasn’t comfortable going and didn’t allow me to consider the possibility that things would turn out fine.
Spoiler Alert: Things turned out fine.
After we (my child and I) made it to the 12-week mark, I walked back into his office expecting his language to change. I expected him to congratulate me for making it to such an important milestone, and to share in my good news. But much like assumptions, expectations seem to throw the craziest curveballs.
There I sat, unchaperoned due to pandemic guidelines, listening to this man speak death over my child’s life once again. You could just feel how uninterested he was in the outcome. But he was kind enough to give me a list of hospitals that had high success rates of delivering premature babies. Gee. Thanks.
I know the power of words. I knew if I wasn’t careful, his unintentional (or intentional?) curses would affect my psyche and the development of my unborn child. I didn’t want my child’s first home to be one of uncertainty and fear.
Again, I didn’t walk into his office expecting him to coat anything with sugar. I walked into his office expecting to hear the truth. I needed the possibility of disappointment balanced by the possibility of me becoming a mother for the first time. I needed him to hear me. I needed freedom to speak. I knew I wouldn’t be comfortable with him delivering my baby if I was already skeptical about his ability to deliver the truth.
I fired him soon after.
By this time I had already begun seeing a high-risk doctor. Night and day, let me tell you. Not only did he explain the possible risks, but he shared with me stories of women “in my situation” who went on to have successful pregnancies and complication-free deliveries. I needed to hear that. It changed the way I felt about being pregnant. I believe it was Kanye who said, “feelings matter, bro.”
While I was pregnant, a popular YouTuber passed away from what seemed like preventable complications. I kept bumping into terrifying statistics about the disparities in treatment and outcomes of black expectant mothers, so I felt it imperative to find a black female doctor who had experience with treating fibroids. Large fibroids.
Black Doctors Matter
I was over halfway through my pregnancy when I “hired” Dr. Gloria Martin. Much like my high-risk doctor, she thoroughly explained the possible complications but shared a number of stories of women who went on to deliver healthy babies despite their “situations.” She ran the necessary tests. She asked the right questions. She listened. She advocated for me. She wanted my child to make it. She wanted me to make it. My life and my child’s life mattered to her, and that mattered to me.
On November 28, 2020, I delivered a healthy baby girl who is as strong as an ox. A tiny ox, but an ox. I will share more on that in tomorrow’s post on Aevrie’s birth story. Given the details of that experience, I question whether I’d be alive today had I not advocated for myself and my unborn child early on. I question how many women “in my situation” felt that abortion was their only choice because of the way information was presented to them early in their pregnancies. Because of how disproportionately represented black women are when it comes to fibroids and womb disorders, I also question how many black women “in my situation” were never given the opportunity to become black mothers.
It matters who is in your corner. It matters who you forcibly remove. On this last day of Black Maternal Health Week, I am grateful for my qualified team of medical professionals who fought for me and mine.
Remember. You are your most prized possession. Don’t drop you.
Candace Alike Smith is a Las Vegas-based content creator, womb warrior, and matcha enthusiast. Candace founded this site in 2015 to help women of color reclaim their vitality. Follow Candace’s content on holistic beauty, mental wellness, herbs and essential oils, non-toxic products, healthy libations, wellness travel, and self-reflection. Green is her happy color.
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