Pt: 2 Black Mothers Respond to Our Cover Story on Maternal Mortality

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I am a mother of two sons. After each of their births, I ended up in the hospital with postpartum eclampsia and HELLP syndrome — serious complications of high blood pressure. Both times it was a struggle to get doctors to even pay attention to my symptoms. When I first noticed that my blood pressure was elevated, I was told, “You people usually have higher blood pressure.” The first time, but for the presence of my father who called an OB-GYN friend in California, I would be dead. The second was even more frustrating and surreal, because I was in a different hospital for high-risk pregnancies in the same system, and I still was not listened to until my family threatened litigation. I am an African-American woman with degrees from Princeton and Yale. I still remember every conscious moment of both experiences. The second time, I was even using their language to describe my vascular headache, asking why they were not checking my urine for protein, requesting a magnesium drip because that saved me the first time. You would have thought I was a mute from Mars. It was the most frustrating experience of my life.”