On Writing Something That Pisses People Off

Photo credit: Thomas Martinsen/Unsplash
Photo credit: Thomas Martinsen/Unsplash

I consider myself to be a fairly polite person. My mother taught me that. She taught me to respect people, no matter who they were, where they came from, what they looked like, what they believed…she instilled in me an ability to stand up for what I believe in but to also not cause arguments (especially when they aren’t necessary), and not to be rude.

However, I don’t think she ever counted on her daughter having exceptionally strong beliefs when it comes to controversial topics. When she taught me to be polite, I was still a child. I was to respect people (especially and unquestioningly, my elders), to do as I was told, to be seen and not heard (unless called upon).

These days, I can be pretty vocal about certain topics. Topics that get under my skin. Topics that speak to my own experience in life, as a woman, as a mother, as a survivor, as a god damn human. Like when I hear about women still being unable to obtain abortions in certain areas (and the way clinics are shutting down left and right here, harming more women than ever before), or when I hear about someone beating their spouse to a bloody pulp (since 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical abuse by a partner in their lifetime), or the way in which women continue to earn less than men for the same amount of work.

I recently published an article about another controversial topic that is near and dear to my heart. It’s about child loss and what it’s like to grieve as a parent who does not subscribe to a particular set of beliefs. It is about being an agnostic and/or atheist in a believers world. Salon picked it up and the response has been unexpectedly overwhelming.

I’d published a piece on losing Maggie before, where I received nothing but kind words from friends and strangers alike. This time, though, it’s been a mixed bag. Some people seem to lose sight of the fact that the piece is meant to exist to help other grieving parents with their loss and their feelings of solitude and instead only focus on feeling attacked about their religion, when I clearly don’t attack religion at all.

No where in my piece do I call people stupid or foolish or ignorant for what they believe. I don’t personally go out of my way to attack anyone or any belief. I simply suggest that while it’s wonderful for folks to be there for their friends and family who grieve, if they know this person is not religious, maybe choose a few different words of comfort when speaking with them.

Yet I am surprised at how many people have gone out of their way and taken time out of what I’m assuming is not a very busy day to Tweet me or write me lengthy e-mails and Facebook messages about how they believe I am wrong, and go on to basically do the same thing the article warns about–thus further proving my point about how people can’t accept that others don’t believe in the way they do. I won’t even get started on the highly offensive trolls in the comments section because frankly, I did not go through the 500+ comments because I am busy being a writer and a mother, and I just simply don’t give a shit.

Photo credit: Wifflegif
Photo credit: Wifflegif

Fortunately, most of the letters and comments have been fairly respectful (thank you to the many Jehova’s Witnesses and other Christians who have written simply to offer words of kindness. I’ve received some especially interesting and wonderful letters even from pastors and ministers who agree with my lack of belief in a “heaven”).

More importantly though is the fact that most of the letters and comments received have been from folks who wholeheartedly relate, many of which are grieving parents themselves. Thank you to the woman who opened up about her multiple miscarriages and the man who shared his solitude with me after the loss of his child, finding his wife going in the opposite direction and becoming more involved in the church. Thank you for your support and for letting me know that my words reached you and are helping you in some way.

I’m so proud that one piece of writing has gone such a long way. Because of my article, we’ve had dozens of new requests to join our baby loss community for agnostic/atheist mothers. It means that sometimes, writing really does affect change. It means I’m not just screaming out into the nothing any more.

Be on the look out for more outspoken, controversial articles from me in the future. Because someone’s got to say what’s on our minds.

If the photo of those Syrian refugees touched your heart, so should the stories of countless immigrants from Latin America

Recently, there has been a photo going around Facebook with an image of man crying and holding his children with the ocean in the background, their clothing visibly wet and clinging to their bodies, the little girl wearing a bright green life vest. The look of anguish on the man’s face is enough to piece through anyone’s heart–or so you would hope.

This image is being passed around with a long message from Facebook user Shannon Scopa, and in it, she denounces the racist platform of Donald Trump as well as tying together the hypocrisy of folks who are both anti-abortion and who constantly rant against immigrants in this country. Scopa goes on:

Don’t talk to me about the sanctity of life if in the next breath you can start foaming at the mouth about “illegals” and the horrors they bring with them.

I completely agree with her view but there is something that bothers me about all this. Why is it that people need to see the suffering on other people’s faces in order to commiserate with their plight? Why is it that those of us fortunate enough to live inside a country that is not currently ruled by a dictatorship or who aren’t experiencing the extreme violence of anti-government protests, whose children aren’t dying by the thousands due to domestic violence or being forced to join gangs for survival, whose families aren’t terrified of local drug cartels, or whose women and children aren’t being forced into sexual slavery in astronomical numbers cannot simply have compassion for their fellow human beings when they come into this country in search of safety and a better life? Why is it not enough for those here to say, “Yes, you are coming from a country that has been ravaged by corruption and war, from a nation that is the poorest on this side of the planet with 1 in 5 children experiencing malnourishment, we understand why you risked your life to get here and you are WELCOME on this land”?

It is completely bewildering to me that the statistics and the first-person accounts of people coming in from Latin America (El Salvador, Nicaragua, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Guatemala, Honduras, etc.) simply aren’t enough. 

It also saddens me when an image of a Syrian family arriving in Greece (and experiencing their own personal pain) is used in a discussion about how we in the States feel about immigration into our own country, mainly because there are already countless images of people arriving from Latin America which would better fit the conversation. 

 
    
But maybe these images aren’t dramatic enough since we don’t see anyone crying.

I’m glad the original post was made and is gaining traction, but I hope that more compassion can be raised for those immigrating into our own country. 

Why You Don’t Need To Breastfeed To Support World Breastfeeding Week

It’s World Breastfeeding Week and as most conversations about breastfeeding go, it is not without its share of controversy. I recently came across this article by Dr. Amy Tuteur detailing the reasons she is NOT celebrating the event. She goes so far as to say that the organization behind the event (World Alliance for Breastfeeding Advocacy), whose apparent goal is to make breastfeeding a “cultural norm” is akin to being against gay marriage and anti-choice (seriously? I mean, really?)

I was a bit taken aback reading this woman’s statements until I realized she’s also the woman behind the blog The Skeptical OB (which I won’t even link to because she does not need any more traffic). In her blog, she makes no secret of how anti-home birth and anti-low-intervention birth she is, going on to basically call anyone who would not blindly follow a doctor anywhere a complete nutbag. So there’s that. And while I have my own feelings about home birth (mine was a transfer-to-hospital situation), that does not mean I am completely opposed to the right of thousands of other women who choose to birth this way–I am pro-choice about nearly everything, baby.

But I digress. World Breastfeeding Week, just like breastfeeding and breastfeeding advocacy in general, should not make anyone feel bad because that is simply not the intention behind it. It’s a celebration (for those who choose to participate) of the very real dedication it takes to be a breastfeeding mother.

Breastfeeding is no joke. Yes, everyone can and should feed their child whichever way is best for them and their family. I think we are all adult enough to agree on this. But let’s face it: Over time, it very often can be much more stressful on a mother who is solely breastfeeding (oftentimes overcoming things like a bad latch, chaffed nipples, a teething baby, etc.) than it is to pour formula in a bottle and feed the baby. I’m not saying that all bottle-fed babies have no complications when it comes to feeding, either (some have reflux, some experience hypotonia and have trouble sucking as well, etc.) Bottle feeding can be challenging, as all feeding of children (up until they are grown) can be challenging (anyone ever hear of a picky toddler?) But breastfeeding comes with its own extra-set of hurdles to jump, including the one with the WABA is looking to combat during this year’s WBW: Breastfeeding and Work.

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Raise your hand if you breastfed. Now raise your hand if you breastfed while working. Many mothers know the difficulties of finding the time and privacy to pump on the job. Some offices will allow women to go into a separate room for this, but what about those who are servers at restaurants or toll-booth cashiers or bus drivers? The point of this year’s WBW is to bring awareness to this specific challenge, so that employers are more aware and to challenge them to begin to make the changes necessary for breastfeeding women to feed their babies in the way they want.

The snark of the Skeptical OB, especially seeing as she may not have even read about the objectives of this year’s WBW. In her words:

It appears that we are celebrating World Breastfeeding Week in the US to extol mothers who breastfeed and to shame those who don’t.

No, actually. That’s not it at all. And if she’d taken even one second to read something that was not part of her agenda-heavy, judgmental-as-hell blog, she might have figured that out.

I had major difficulties breastfeeding William. While he latched on beautifully and painlessly, it appears my body did not produce enough milk (one lactation consultant told me she believed I had insufficient glandular tissue). Between my low supply and his feeding troubles from birth, and our time spent apart due to his time in NICU, it wasn’t meant to be.

We went four months where I pumped and fed constantly, did everything in my power to produce more, and finally gave up and allowed myself the rest that I was sorely needing. I enjoyed the time I got to breastfeed him, and bonded nicely, but I also bonded with him afterward (and still do) bottle-feeding him. It was not a failure to go to exclusive formula feeding. I do not judge mothers who cannot breastfeed for x, y, and z reasons, or those who simply choose not to because it is not for them. This is why we have CHOICES.

One of the few breastfeeding photos I have with William.
One of the few breastfeeding photos I have with William.

If you breastfed your baby, or wanted to, or are an ally to women who do (including the fathers, the sisters, the brothers, the friends, and grandparents who did not breastfeed outright but helped support the women in their lives who did), thank you!

You don’t need to breastfeed yourself to be an advocate for breastfeeding, and you don’t need to feel badly or persecuted if you chose to formula feed because breastfeeding women on the whole don’t care one way or the other (they’re too busy wincing when their young toddlers accidentally bite their nipples or pull their hair during a 5 a.m. feed–and goddess bless ’em for that).

Dreaming Wild with Michelle Herrera Mulligan

It never ceases to amaze me how often we can become our own worst enemies. I have so many friends who are not only wonderful people, but also incredibly talented. Artists, writers, musicians, would-be entrepreneurs…When I see them, I see so much potential. And yet many of them are either stuck without a job, or with low-paying positions because of pure circumstance. They weren’t born into a position that privileged them enough to pursue internships during college and they didn’t know someone at the right company in a high-level position to assist them in obtaining a job that would help further their career. They are people who are constantly struggling to make ends meet, helping their own parents make car payments and mortgages, due to living at a time when it’s getting harder and harder to compete for those few available jobs at the top (for an interesting analysis on the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots as it pertains to job creation, read this piece by Gary Reber). This has been my own situation several times over, especially after the recession hit my family hard, forcing my father, who had just started his construction business, to sit at home without work for a year.

Things have improved for us, but for many, it hasn’t. And for many, the idea of making dreams come true is becoming less and less a reality and more and more akin to children’s fairy-tales. It’s downright depressing. To quote famous beat poet and thinker Allen Ginsberg, it often feels like I am seeing “the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,”–the madness being brought on by poverty and desperation.

Dream Wild. Or like Doug Funny, Think Big.
Dream Wild. Or like Doug Funny, Think Big.
Still, I believe that there are ways out of the hole for many of us if only we are willing to dream a little bigger. And while I do of course recognize the luxury of dreaming (how difficult it is to dream when you’re working 80 hour weeks and have children to feed and long commutes and no health care and no one to lean on or lean in to), I at the very least encourage a little bit of dreaming for those of us who do have this luxury. Because if we want to make a positive change in our world, in our communities, the best way to do this is by grabbing success by the horns and using it to do our bidding. One can’t help employ the dozens or hundreds in their community if they themselves have nothing to give. But if one or two climb out, maybe they will remember where they came from and work to give back to their communities, and reach down and pull a few folks up with them. That’s how this works.

I’m truly inspired tonight after listening to this TED Talk by writer and editor-in-chief for Cosmo for Latinas Michelle Herrera Mulligan, who talks about dreaming wild and what this can do for your career and essentially, your life. If you have a moment, listen to these words and take them to heart. More often than not, we have little to nothing to lose when we take changes.

Stick It, Reporters: Riley Curry Is My NBA MVP

Curry-

Anyone that knows me knows I’m not a huge sports fan, but I do tend to enjoy the NBA Finals (especially when the Heat are in). Sadly, they didn’t make it this year, and, while I’m not exactly holding a grudge, I am definitely rooting for Golden State (hey, I like the Bay Area…has nothing to do with Lebron having left us to go back home to Cleveland! Really…).

But there’s one more reason to keep our eye on GSW and Steph Curry in particular: his adorable daughter, Riley. Apparently Curry caught some flack recently when he decided to bring his daughter with him during a post-game interview. He caught so much flack, in fact, that he decided to do it again.

Now, my theory is that anyone getting up in arms about this either a) has no kids or b) is a lousy parent. After watching both interviews, at no point does she ever become so disruptive that reporters can’t ask questions. And any reporters that do get swayed by the shenanigans of a two-year-old are amateurs in my book (how do these people carry on in life during any other interruptions?) Curry successfully and succinctly answers all the questions that were asked of him at these press conferences while maintaining his cool all the while having his rambunctious toddler act in true toddler fashion. He has very obviously perfected the art of Parental Multitasking.

Parental Multitasking is a gift we all learn or else we’ll never again hold conversations with other adults. It means tuning out the random noises and squeals and squeaks coming out of your child while still keeping an ear out for important sounds, like ones that alert you to your kid climbing the stairs unattended or getting ready to jump off something they shouldn’t. It means shielding them from your vision so you’re still able to more or less maintain eye-contact with the other human who is closer to you in height and age while still staying vigilant in case your rugrat is about to stick their finger in a socket or throw your iPhone against a window.

If Game 1 is any indication of the playoffs this year, it’s going to be a blast to watch. But it’ll be even greater if throughout it all, we get more toddler-bombed interviews and Vines like this one from earlier tonight:

Too damn cute.

Happy Riot Grrrl Day! Let’s Write A Manifesto!

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Bratmobile, 1994. Photo Credit: Greg Neete via Flickr

It was an exciting time to be a feminist in the early 1990’s as Kathleen Hanna (member of Bikini Kill, Julie Ruin, Le Tigre, and The Julie Ruin; star of The Punk Singer documentary; and incredible, motivated, and motivating feminist) and others paved the way for the Riot Grrrl movement. For those not familiar, Riot Grrrl was essentially a punk rock feminist movement, part of the third-wave of feminism, during which female-led bands got together to start addressing the very real gender-based problems women were facing. Bands like Heavens to Betsy, Team Dresch, Sleater-Kinner, and of course, Hanna’s first band – Bikini Kill, were writing songs about things like rape, domestic violence, patriarchy, classism, and racism, as well as music that would inspire women to be brave, strong, powerful, and whatever the hell else they wanted to be, for decades to come.

And truth be told, it’s still an exciting time to be a feminist, and that is in part thanks to previous movements like the riot grrrl scene.

Kathleen Hanna, 2013. Photo Credit: anna Hanks via Flickr
Kathleen Hanna, 2013. Photo Credit: anna Hanks via Flickr

All-around-badass Kathleen Hanna is going to be performing and lecturing tonight in Boston, and in honor of her presence and of the movement, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh is proclaiming today, April 9th, and Riot Grrrl Day.

To see feminism being embraced by the public, and by a high-standing political figure, is truly amazing and inspiring. It means that feminism is working. It means that people (maybe not all, but many) are recognizing our true NEED for feminism. That we are still eons away from equality, but that we are working hard toward making it happen, for future generations.

When I was doing my undergrad studies, my final project for one of my women’s and gender studies courses was to write my own feminist manifesto and presenting it in any format I wanted. I wish I still had it with me. In honor of Riot Grrl Day, I will be writing out a new manifesto stating WHY I believe we need feminism and the ways in which we can continue to combat the patriarchy day by day. If you’re game, write one two and post it here or on your own page and link back.

And if you need a little inspiration kick start, check out Kathleen’s manifesto as written in Bikini Kill Zine 2:

RIOT GRRRL MANIFESTO

 

BECAUSE us girls crave records and books and fanzines that speak to US that WE feel included in and can understand in our own ways.  

BECAUSE we wanna make it easier for girls to see/hear each other’s work so that we can share strategies and criticize-applaud each other.

BECAUSE we must take over the means of production in order to create our own moanings.  

BECAUSE viewing our work as being connected to our girlfriends-politics-real lives is essential if we are gonna figure out how we are doing impacts, reflects, perpetuates, or DISRUPTS the status quo.

BECAUSE we recognize fantasies of Instant Macho Gun Revolution as impractical lies meant to keep us simply dreaming instead of becoming our dreams AND THUS seek to create revolution in our own lives every single day by envisioning and creating alternatives to the bullshit christian capitalist way of doing things.

BECAUSE we want and need to encourage and be encouraged in the face of all our own insecurities, in the face of beergutboyrock that tells us we can’t play our instruments, in the face of “authorities” who say our bands/zines/etc are the worst in the US and

BECAUSE we don’t wanna assimilate to someone else’s (boy) standards of what is or isn’t.

BECAUSE we are unwilling to falter under claims that we are reactionary “reverse sexists” AND NOT THE TRUEPUNKROCKSOULCRUSADERS THAT WE KNOW we really are.

BECAUSE we know that life is much more than physical survival and are patently aware that the punk rock “you can do anything” idea is crucial to the coming angry grrrl rock revolution which seeks to save the psychic and cultural lives of girls and women everywhere, according to their own terms, not ours.

BECAUSE we are interested in creating non-hierarchical ways of being AND making music, friends, and scenes based on communication + understanding, instead of competition + good/bad categorizations.

BECAUSE doing/reading/seeing/hearing cool things that validate and challenge us can help us gain the strength and sense of community that we need in order to figure out how bullshit like racism, able-bodieism, ageism, speciesism, classism, thinism, sexism, anti-semitism and heterosexism figures in our own lives.

BECAUSE we see fostering and supporting girl scenes and girl artists of all kinds as integral to this process.

BECAUSE we hate capitalism in all its forms and see our main goal as sharing information and staying alive, instead of making profits of being cool according to traditional standards.

BECAUSE we are angry at a society that tells us Girl = Dumb, Girl = Bad, Girl = Weak.

BECAUSE we are unwilling to let our real and valid anger be diffused and/or turned against us via the internalization of sexism as witnessed in girl/girl jealousism and self defeating girltype behaviors.

BECAUSE I believe with my wholeheartmindbody that girls constitute a revolutionary soul force that can, and will change the world for real.

 

Photo Credits: Greg Neete via Flickr

World Prematurity Day and the PREEMIE Reauthorization Act

prematurity

November 17th marks a day of global awareness and global action on behalf of all babies born too soon—World Prematurity Day. As the mother of a baby girl born prematurely and gone too soon, prematurity affects me on a daily basis. It has profoundly affected and changed my life and continues to do so as I am pregnant again with my second child, a son who is now 26 weeks old in-utero and still not fully to term. I am thankful for each and every day that I have with him and continue to stay positive that he’ll hold on till his 40 weeks when he’s ready to join us on the outside.

According to the March of Dimes, as many as 15 MILLION babies are born prematurely every year, with 1.1 million of them dying from complications and 500,000 of these occur in the US alone. My Maggie is one of those 500k. Why does this happen? Pre-term labor happens for many reasons:

  • Lacking Proper Medical Care: This, I feel, is the biggest problem of all. Consider the rising costs of medical care today. Not everyone has health insurance, either because their employers don’t offer it or because they simply can’t afford to be on a plan. My hopes are that the Affordable Care Act will help out with this (in the US), including the expansions in Medicaid occurring (at least in some states—Florida opted out), but we’ll see how far it goes.
    • But what if you’re pregnant and just started a job? Most employers won’t insure you for the first three months, and those three months could be vital to your pregnancy and well-being.
    • Or what if you change jobs in between? Again, a gap in coverage could cost you.
    • And if you lose your job, as I have experience during both of my pregnancies, it means you’ll have to wait until Medicaid kicks in to be able to see a doctor. By then it could be too late.
    • The process to obtain Medicaid can also be complicated, and getting a Medicaid case worker on the phone o help answer questions can take hours out of your day (something that may be nearly impossible for someone who is employed and struggling to get by).
    • Paying out of pocket is not always an option, either. Just recently, I was trying to pay out of pocket at my doctor’s office in order to have a follow up after having a cerclage put in. Because I was recently let go from my job, my insurance was cancelled and waiting for COBRA to kick in. Unfortunately, COBRA was going to take over a month to fully be active, so I attempted to pay for my visit, but was being asked to pay $990 due to being close to 28 weeks of pregnancy (they have a policy where out-of-pocket patients must pay up to $990 by the time they’re in their 28th week and there was no way around this). This left me to either have to a) try and find a new doctor who would charge less, b) pay the ridiculous fee, or c) find another way to be covered. Fortunately I was eligible for Medicaid and after many phone calls was able to resolve this issue. But for others, it may not be an option and they’ll end up skipping doctor’s appointments which could end up harming them and/or their baby.
    • Additionally, finding a good doctor isn’t always easy. Some people live in rural areas, far from a nearby doctor’s office or hospital. Others might have many doctors around, but lousy insurance that won’t many doctors won’t take. Or you might have the lousy luck I’ve had in the past and end up finding yourself in the care of inconsiderate doctors who simply don’t care for their patients, discouraging you from asking questions and obtaining the level of care you deserve. I had three different OB/GYNs during my first pregnancy: the first was incredibly rude, the second was good but I lost her after losing my insurance, and the third was careless, treating my pregnancy lightly and once I informed him that my child had died, he simply stated that “it happens”, without wanting to dig deeper into WHY it happened and HOW it can be prevented in the future. This apparently happens a lot.
  • Health Risks and Complications, including but not limited to:
    • Cervical Incompetence and Uterine Abnormalities
    • Diabetes
    • High-Blood Pressure
    • Infections: Urinary Tract, Bladder, Vaginal, STIs/STDs
    • Kidney Disease
  • Lifestyle Risks and Complications, including but not limited to:
    • High levels of stress (being of a lower socio-economic background, lacking emotional support from friends/family, working a high-stress job with little to no consideration for your condition, etc. can all cause your stress levels to rise which can be stressful on the baby, causing you to potentially even care less for yourself and not eat or rest properly)
    • Domestic abuse (physical AND emotional)
    • Drinking, smoking and drug use (while we would hope that with today’s research individuals are now ceasing all these activities once they find out they’re pregnant, many still do not. Sadly, some may claim to have stopped but as addicts, may continue and not seek help. If the stigma against drug users were to cease, and if more programs were put in place to help users quit without expensive rehab facilities, perhaps they would be more willing to look into seeking help, and more help could be given to these individuals)
  • Lack of Prenatal Education: Many people don’t even know that preterm labor can happen to anyone. They don’t realize how dangerous not being regularly checked by a doctor or midwife can be. They don’t know that standing for prolonged periods of time at a job can cause physical stress. They don’t know how much water they should be drinking (dehydration can cause contractions which could lead to pre-term labor). They have no idea what proper nutrition should be during pregnancy. They don’t realize that the abusive relationships they’re in could cause damage to their babies, don’t know how to get out of those situations, and lack the help to do so. They don’t know what signs and symptoms of pre-term labor look/feel like (contractions every 5-10 minutes, spotting, fluid leaking from the vagina, pelvic pressure, lower back ache, etc.). They just don’t know.

So how can things change? The March of Dimes is raising awareness about prematurity these days, and this is wonderful. They are also funding research via grants to find out more about the causes, preventions of and care for for pre-term labor and premature birth. Sadly, there aren’t many other organizations that I know of doing the same.

One very fantastic resource for pregnant women, however, is KeepEmCookin.com. Started by Angela Davids, who experienced and beat PTL with two of her pregnancies, this site serves as an excellent source of information for anyone who is pregnant, experiencing a high-risk pregnancy, having to undergo procedures to keep her pregnancy going (including taking hormone shots, having cerclage put in, being put on bed rest, etc), and anyone who just wants more information about all the different complications that might come with pregnancy.

More recently, the PREEMIE Reauthorization Act recently passed both the Senate and the House and is on its way to becoming law. You can read more about this act, which includes provisions to strengthen the ongoing research to find ways to prevent premature births and help premature infants, in the following links:

House Passes Bipartisan PREEMIE Bill to Help Prevent and Treat Premature Births, Boost Pediatric Care

PREEMIE Reauthorization Act (March of Dimes)

Senate Passes Alexander Bill To Reduce Premature Births (The Chattanoogan)

I personally plan to write to each of the cosponsors on this bill and thank them for their work (including Senator Barbara Mikluski, Senator Mary Landrieu and Senator Alexander Lamar).

I find it interesting that finding any news stories covering this act was difficult. It could reflect the way we as a society see and deal with premature birth: out of sight, out of mind. For those who have never been affected, it probably doesn’t mean much. But the fact is, it’s almost certain you’ve either met someone who was born prematurely or will know someone in your lifetime that is or is affected by premature birth. I never thought anything would go wrong when I first got pregnant. And when it did, I was angry because I wondered if it could have been prevented had I just known more of what to look out for, if I had fought harder to obtain the medical care I needed and deserved. I’ll never know, but I do know that this time around, I have made sure to ask all the questions possible, to do as much research as needed, to ensure my baby and I are well taken care of, even if it does get stressful at times.

If you’re reading this, I hope you’ve never and will never have to experience why my family has. But I also hope that you make sure you are informed of the facts, that you support all the pregnant women around you who may face such problems, and that you join us in spreading awareness today and every day.