I’ve committed my life to talking about Black women having a "fabulous" and powerful pregnancy, but to be honest, there was nothing fabulous about how my pregnancy journey began.
It was the summer right before I was to begin the Knight Bagehot Fellowship and do my Master’s at Columbia University and I went to London to spend the summer with my girlfriends and my new British boyfriend. Well, let’s just say I came home with more than just a hankering for tea and biscuits.
We were both shocked and it was a heavy burden for a relatively new relationship. When I told my parents, my father cried. Even though I was 29, on my own and with a very successful career, it was a big family disappointment for where others saw my life going. When you are put on a pedestal, any fall is always a harder fall.
Then I got the phone call. Weeks after coming to New York for my first prenatal visit, my baby-daddy (who, just to keep you confused, I later married and am now divorcing) called to say that he couldn’t deal with an unplanned pregnancy, he was confused, yadda yadda yadda . . . he’s out of there. The next time I would see him, my daughter was 11 months old.
At this point in my life, I redefined loneliness. I had lost my deepest friendships, was disfellowshipped from my religious community, I had been abandoned by my child’s father, my mother (because of her religious beliefs) was not able to support me, and I was in one of the most challenging fellowship programs there is. I cried every day for weeks. No seriously, every day.
And because I suffer from "Strong Black Woman" syndrome and like many of you, wear the reputation of the entire black race on my back, I refused to tell any of the truly wonderful people in my fellowship program that I had become another black statistic: Unwed mother. Absent father. Instead, I launched a black male PR campaign full of stories of his involvement, excitement, and "sorry, you just missed him" visits. Geesh!! How exhausting! (Btw, when I finally came clean with them several months later, they were the most supportive bunch ever!)
My sister said that as a "student" I could probably income qualify for WIC to help with the high prices of healthy food in New York City. And I will never, ever forget the day I walked to 125th Street and into that Harlem office and got WIC. (That is another blog!)
But I knew this baby only had me. And I was scared as hell. I knew I had pretty much no one to count on to help me through this pregnancy but myself. And so I began to research everything. In my researching to save my sanity and help my baby, I stumbled upon the sobering statistics about black women and our high rates of low birth weight and pre term pregnancies that inspired me to write my first book, The Mocha Manual to a Fabulous Pregnancy years later.
With the help of some great new friends, a few old ones, my sister and a lot of prayer, I survived the darkest period of my life and still had a "fabulous" pregnancy. Having a "fabulous" pregnancy is all about your mind set and nothing about your circumstance. I finished my coursework early, delivered Kayla on schedule and walked down the aisle with her in my arms to receive my Master’s Degree a few weeks later. I was able to have a successful freelance career, buy a new car, get a great apartment and stay home with my little one. And I never asked for a dime (or pence) from her father. She is still my Triumph Baby.
Do you have a triumph baby? Did you overcome your circumstances to still have a "fabulous" pregnancy? I’d love to hear your story.