Nia’s One Year Heartversary – AKA open Heart Surgery!
Today marks one year post open heart surgery for Nia! As I write this blog post I am literally in tears! My God! My baby girl’s fate was death, but through supernatural healing she is here!!!
I believe this is a perfect opportunity to revisit my postpartum mental health journey. As most who follow Nia’s Journey are aware that my pregnancy and postpartum mental health journey have been quite the rollercoaster ride – but I am transparent about my own journey as Ive received so much feedback that it i has help others- mothers and non-mothers / men and women alike.
This COVID-19 crisis has definitely attempted to play on my psych and cause my postpartum anxiety and PTSD to to peak its ugly head, but it can’t and will not win!
Before the COVID-19 crisis was fully a thing, it was already on my mind, one because of Nia being a congenital heart and lung defect baby- anything respiratory related always puts us on heightened alert.
I should back up to the day before Nia’s latest surgery…Nia had her cardiologist appointment in Lancaster, PA with her heaven sent provider, Dr. Chowdhury. This visit was routine until it wasn’t.. Nia had an echocardiogram, which was required for approval of her tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy (tonsils and adenois removal) the next day…
The Emotional Rollercoaster – Cardiology Visit
Her cardiologist was concerned regarding the pressures on the right side of her heart being too high!! Let me just say, my heart sank and so did Antoine’s… I could see the worry in his eyes which is rare- he looked at his baby girl, and I could see his eyes saying not my baby girl again… My PTSD had me almost wanting to scream in the echocardiogram because Nia had to have two screenings to be sure….
The rest of the visit was full of additional education and possible alternatives of what may be happening with Nia’s heat.. again we are so thankful for the details we receive by Nia’s care team as they know we expect nothing less… the two hour drive is always worth it!
Despite the news seeing Nia being so happy and wanting to check her doctor’s heartbeat was a little bit of sunshine and she is truly our light! She is full of joy no matter the circumstances – Sweet Nia is always so sure of herself and the love she has for others.
Consideration for Another Heart Catherization Lab Procedure
Nia would now need to go under again at a different time to the cath lab to be sure the echo was accurate…sooner rather than later…For now she was approved to have her tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy with the coordinated care of a cardiac anesthesiologist.
Afternoon Visits at Nemours/A.I. duPont Children’s Hospital – Wilmington, DE
That afternoon Nia was seen by her skeletal dysplasia orthopedic team – truly blessed to have them as well! Dr. Stewart Mackenzie’s (Dr. William Mackenzie’s son) this go around…..
That evening we paid it forward to the NICU families and staff with a hot meal – doing this always brings positive to energy to my mental health…. feels good to do good for others!
- Power walking at least 3-5 days a week with my husband…we have been able to re-connect and truly nurture our marriage during this time.. a blessing as it was surely a top renewed focus in 2020 for us
- Resting my mind and body – yes it’s okay to rest and not feel guilty mamas
- Checking in via telehealth with my behavioral/mental health care team
- Doing at-home self-care – soaking, stretching, and foam rolling
- Sharing updates about Nia – this is necessary and therapeutic for me
- Counting my steps toward virtual reality walk – March for Babies
- Continuing to raise awareness for maternal and infant health as a Maternal and Infant Health Ambassador for March of Dimes – through peer mentorship, virtual outreach, blogging, and social media platforms
- Checking on other friends and families
Reminder – Mama’s Take Care of Yourself Including Your Medical Appointments
My Well Woman’s Exam – Finally!!!
I must mention, before stay at home orders were mandatory, I managed to finally have my first well woman’s exam since my 6 weeks postpartum check-up. – yes I know 2.5 years is too long – but that’s my reality. With so many medical appointments for Nia and my own postpartum mental health needs, there wasn’t much time for much else during the day… Needless to say I had a great report, including a mammogram. I have mammogram screenings due to my family history of breast cancer. During these uncertain times I am finally able to have more time to reflect on myself and the things that matters most which is my health and wellness, my spiritual relationship with God, and of course my beautiful family!!! Nia’s Journey has truly enhanced my faith and made me stronger than I ever thought I could be!
Maternal Health and Self-Advocacy Tips
- Make sure you have a Primary Care Provider and OB/GYN that listens to your concerns
- Make sure to have a Well Woman’s Exam Annually and Pap Smear at least every 1-3 years depending on your needs
- Patient Portal Access in the 21st Century should be a requirement to stay connected with your medical providers for quick and secure messaging
- Make sure you have a provider that wants to educate you about your body
- Also, Educate Yourself about your own body
- Listen to your Body
- It’s okay to fire a provider that doesn’t listen to you or may not be the right fit – trust me I’ve done this – this goes for pediatricians and specialists for your child too
- Advocate, Advocate for you! If you aren’t strong enough to do it – make sure to have a support person that is part of your medical records and legally can advocate for you.
I am thankful for my ability to advocate for myself and other mamas – especially black mamas, to give them a voice when there concerns are drowned by implicit biases and racial disparities.
Remember Mamas, Empower Yourself First, and Then Pick Up Another Mama or Woman Along The Way – Pay It Forward!