“Go in the house and wash yo’ ass, chile.” 

That’s what some of the black parents and grandparents used to yell at me and the other children that were still outside running around in our yards during the heart of the summer in southeast Louisiana. 

I thugged out exclusively breastfeeding my now three-and-a-half-year-old son for two years. Eli did not take to a bottle nor pacifier the way he did my breasts. I mentioned and referred to thugging out my exclusive breastfeeding journey because I endured the backlash from others for how I fed my baby. 

In my prayers for a healthy pregnancy and delivery for my baby girl, I guess I foolishly forgot to pray for a healthy recovery for myself. Studies over the years have found that African American women are three times more likely to die from preeclampsia, and I didn't think it would affect me. 

Just one week from today, I will be in labor and delivery. Whew. I’m nervous and yet excited to meet my second child. My three-and-a-half-year-old Eli has been giving my belly so many kisses and squeezes that I’m sure he will be captivated when he meets his baby sister for the very first time. I have been taking in these last few days of Eli being an only child with grace. The count down doesn't get any more real until I am in a hospital bed pushing with anticipation etched within my heart. 

39 weeks pregnant