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  • Writer's pictureEbony J. Ford

Sticks & Stones Part 2

I warned you in my last blog that we had only touched the tip of the iceberg. BUCKLE UP!

"Maybe you should consider adoption so no other baby has these risks."

This statement wasn’t just hurtful and ignorant, but it was harmful to every mother that’s ever blamed themselves and felt like their bodies failed their children. What happened to me (severe preeclampsia & HELLP syndrome) wasn’t any doing of my own or the millions who’ve experienced it before me. Those who’ve experienced incompetent cervix, premature rupture of membranes or any other pregnancy complication weren’t at fault. It was nothing that WE did. Now what we HAVE done is make the very best of difficult situations and make it look far easier than it is. Of THAT, we are certainly guilty. I've shared MANY times that we were ready to adopt BUT found out that I was pregnant just days before the meeting. What does that tell you? So to the person who thought they were being helpful or expressing concern by saying this, I’ve waited 7 months to tell you to MIND YOUR OWN UTERUS! I’ll have another child (or 12 if I’d like) by any means I choose.

"What's the big deal about black women and preeclampsia? It's clearly something they're doing wrong."

As I stated before, pregnancy complications don’t happen because of wrongdoing or incompetence on the mother’s part. Pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia are no respecter of person. Take for example tennis player Serena Williams: Shortly after the cesarean birth of her daughter, she began experiencing chest pains and shortness of breath. She asked to have certain tests performed to get to the root of the matter. Despite her celebrity status, she was initially ignored and denied the critical treatment needed to treat the silent killer within her body—a pulmonary embolism. And let’s not forget one of my generations most respected and talented entertainers, Beyoncé. She experienced preeclampsia during her twin pregnancy. What do they have in common?

African-American women are 3-4x more likely to have a prematurity related complication, in particular hypertensive disorders. Also, those born in the United States have a 27% higher risk of developing high blood pressure during pregnancy (preeclampsia), compared to those who immigrated to the country. And the risk increases for Black immigrants after they lived in the U.S. for more than 10 years (click to read more). So if it were something black women are doing wrong, why is living in this country a major contributing factor? Here's the truth: The U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed countries. And it's not for lack of technology. Some accredit it to a lack of maternity care providers. Others point to inherit racism and biases as the reason why minorities die at such alarming rates. Many point to the greed of the healthcare system in pushing pitocin for quicker births, emergency cesarean births and not swiftly and/or appropriately regulating hypertension, excessive bleeding and other postpartum complications. No matterwhich you believe or if you believe none at all, trust me when I say, preeclampsia isn't anyo ne's "fault" and certainly not that of black women. We just happen to be the ones dying most from it. And I'm on a mission to change that.

"You should make your page more cohesive & pretty if you're gonna share your life, especially if you want to be an influencer."

Although I've already said it a MILLION times, I just want to be crystal clear about my intentions with Reign's Instagram page. It began for family and then grew to become something far greater than I imagined. I only share our life to show the good, bad and ugly of what it's like to raise a child who was born extremely premature, is medically-fragile and still experiencing the complications of prematurity. Unlike many others I've encountered, I've NEVER desired any fame or access to platforms, and perhaps that's why both came on their own. This has always and WILL always be about raising awareness. My life isn't picture perfect and I'm totally fine with my page not being monochromatic and matchy. Nothing against those who do, but I don't care enough about aesthetics to waste that kind of time on it. All I truly care about is the message of hope, strength and determination being received. And last but not least:

"This isn't advocating.. It's a pity party for your choices."

Choices??? Did I make the choice to nearly die giving birth? Did I make the choice for my daughter to come at 26 weeks? And how about her complications in the NICU like lung collapses, severe anemia requiring 10 blood transfusions, feeding difficulties, bronchopulmonary dysplasia and chronic lung disease...did I choose those? Did I choose pulmonary fibromatosis and ask for it to threaten her life multiple times as she battled other respiratory conditions? Did I ask for over 10 PICU stays within 18 months? And the developmental and speech delays that have kept me up weeping many nights wondering if I did something wrong or if I failed her....I guess I chose that too right? TRUST ME, if I could've chosen I would've chosen a few things FAR differently. But I wouldn't trade Reign Victoria for a thing!! Now choosing her?! YES, I chose her and I'll choose her every day for the rest of our lives! I choose to advocate. I choose to be light in darkness. I choose to be bigger than critics who couldn't even find the laces on my shoes yet alone walk in them. I choose to use their words for fuel to do greater. And I choose to be the answer I didn't have no matter the cost.

I've always recognized the risk in opening up my life to the public and I vowed to take it all in stride. But I AM HUMAN! I feel. I have the capacity to internalize. I bleed too. And my only wish for 2021 is that when we choose our words wisely and be clear on our intent towards others. But honestly, good intent isn't enough. I believe that many of the authors of the quotes I've shared somehow meant well. But there wasn't any discernment exercised before hitting send, neither did they consider how those words would land in the heart of the reader. If we've learned nothing from this pandemic, I pray that we've learned that community is EVERYTHING. When it comes down to it, community (family, friends or amazing followers like you guys) is all that we have! And I look forward to many more amazing days encouraging and sharing with this amazing community that we've built.

Here's to 2021 being an incredible one!!


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