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My Voice Was Silenced

This photo was taken 8 years ago. I had just given birth to my son at 37 weeks after my doctor insisted I be induced due to the baby measuring at 10lbs 3oz. I was considered high risk due to high blood pressure and being over the age of 35. My labor progressed faster than expected (in less than 3 hrs), so there was no time for an epidural. My nurse was new in labor and delivery and was attending to another patient at the time when I felt that feeling that it was time to push. I told my husband to call the nurse! When the nurse returned, I told her I needed to push. She said, "You can't be fully dilated already.” She examined me and her eyes widened. The nurse called in another nurse to check. The second nurse checks and says, “She’s 10 centimeters page her doctor.”

My doctor was at his office when my nurse called. I heard him on the phone asking my nurse, “If I don't make it in time can you deliver her baby?” The panic in her eyes said it all! Needless to say, my doctor made it in the nick of time. He of course informs me that I’m past the window for an epidural so I’m going to have to push this 10lb baby out unmedicated. I said a quick prayer and gave my best three pushes and within 30 minutes, I was holding my 9lb baby. 😒 It was in no way the birth plan I had in mind, but at that moment I was so thankful to be holding my baby in my arms.

I thought my birth experience was traumatic, but I never imagined that my postpartum recovery would be the most painful experience of my life. Fast forward to my 6-week check-up, I was still in pain so bad I could not sit comfortably as I waited for my doctor to see me. When I expressed my concern he said: "Oh, it's perfectly normal, sometimes it takes moms longer to heal, but in the meantime, I could return to normal activities.”😳

Fast forward, I'm now three months postpartum and still in pain. I knew this was not normal. I went back to the doctor, and after examining me, he realized the incision he had to make last minute to get my baby out had healed improperly. Just a quick note no one informed me of this incision and or if there was anything additional I needed to do at home to treat it. So my doctor goes on to say he would have to schedule me for corrective surgery, and that could be a whole process, and I may have to wait longer. He then says, or we can cauterize the wound now, and you will feel instant pain relief. He said you pushed a 9lb baby out with no pain meds, you can handle a little temporary pain. Reluctantly I went ahead with the in-office procedure, and yes, it was still painful as I lay there with tears in my eyes.

I walked out of the office pain free but still felt very defeated. So many questions ran through my mind. What if my doctor had listened to me the first time when I knew something was wrong? What if I had been informed of the incision before I was discharged from the hospital? Maybe I could have prevented it. Should I have opted for the corrective surgery? During my labor and postpartum, my voice was repeatedly silenced. I was ignored. Today I know now it's so important to advocate for yourself because as a black woman, I truly felt my voice was not heard.

It's Black Maternal Health Week, our stories, our research, our families, our births, our health, and our lives matter every day.

Please continue to support this cause and the organizations that are working to improve Black Maternal Healthcare.

Thank you to everyone for allowing me to share my story.


Marsha Stephanson

Founder, Cater to Mom


1 comment

  • I am always appalled at how careless maternity “care” is here. I remember being told with my second baby that the hospital is low on mesh underwear and that I should just rinse and rewear. After they already messed up my planned water birth because the one nurse on duty didn’t feel like filling the pool – or calling my midwife when I asked her.

    And I know I still got better care than the women of color in the ward.

    I appreciate all you do for women nationwide and I will keep gifting your postpartum boxes to all women in my life who have given birth.

    Petra Hokanson

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