April 25, 2023 By Shakima Tozay
In the spring of 2017, I fell pregnant naturally with my son Jaxson after a nearly 5-year battle with infertility, including a miscarriage of twins and several failed rounds of IVF. My husband and I were shocked, overjoyed, and fearful all at the same time. Just a year earlier, we had given up the hope of having a family of our own and put our energy into raising animals on our small farm.
My pregnancy with Jaxson was uneventful for the most part; I was in the best health of my life. I was eating right, attended acupuncture appointments faithfully, and stayed away from anything that could risk me losing my baby. I had high hopes that if I just did everything my doctors told me, Jaxson would be here.
During my third trimester, my pregnancy seemed to take a turn. I noticed I was having more migraine headaches and was overwhelmed with fatigue during the day. Something felt off, and I couldn’t describe how different I felt. I went to the emergency room complaining of abnormal cramping a few times, only to be sent home and told it was normal and to relax.
I remember bursting into tears and a nurse reassuring me that everything would be okay because African American babies, especially black females, are the strongest and do well in the NICU. My symptoms worsened, and I was eventually admitted for observation and told that my son would likely be premature and spend several weeks in the NICU.
Although I hadn’t delivered Jaxson then, it wouldn’t take much longer before I found myself again in the emergency room with stroke-like blood pressure that put me at high risk for a stroke or heart attack. Earlier that night, I had been to the emergency room because my blood pressure was very high again, and I was concerned that Jaxson wasn’t moving as much anymore.
After having a stress test and ultrasound, everything seemed to end in haste.
A Nurse who met with my husband and I reassured us not to worry; she had seen this sort of thing before, and nothing terrible would happen. The nurse said I could go home and call back with another stress test in the morning.
But I was high risk and had pre-eclampsia; why didn’t I meet with a doctor that night? Was I stable enough to go home nearly an hour after having such high blood pressure numbers? Less than 24 hours later, I returned. My husband noticed how weak I felt and helped me into the car for a trip to the hospital that would change everything.
On November 8th, 2017, my son Jaxson died while I was 7 ½ months pregnant from a total placenta abruption. To be told my baby had already passed away when I arrived for a 2nd time in the ER was earth-shattering and heartbreaking. I had an emergency c-section and delivered Jaxson. My preeclampsia symptoms remained high, and I had to get an infusion because of the abruption. I stayed in the hospital for almost a week, holding Jaxson and making memories of every chance I had. Using ice packs on his little body to preserve him because there wasn’t an option for a cuddle cot.
Because of my prenatal care, I also suffered a near miss that almost claimed my life. Although I survived, a part of me died with Jaxson that night. Preeclampsia and healthcare inequities are the reason Jaxson’s life ended too soon.
My pregnancy was anything but normal. We found out we were pregnant with our first child in January 2020 and before we’d even really ha...ReadMore