By Kathryn Tees, Director, Organizational Development, Community Health Choice
November 24, 2020
The Saturday after Thanksgiving about 4 years ago, my pregnancy was 35 weeks along, and everything was going as according to plan as it could be. I was grateful that I had health insurance, a supportive partner, and an OB/GYN who was very responsive to my needs. And still, I wound up in the emergency room.
I don’t think anything could have prepared me for how the day unfolded. I had just seen my doctor the previous week, and he had reassured me that my health and my pregnancy were in great shape. However, within the span of just a few hours, my breathing became increasingly labored and my blood pressure skyrocketed. Preeclampsia was setting in more quickly than I could have ever imagined.
I was rushed to the hospital and underwent an emergency Cesarean section. As a woman with access to the health resources I need and with no pre-existing conditions, I never would have thought my childbirth experience would happen like this.
It’s taken me years to unpack my experience, and I’ve spent a lot of that time not even knowing that I needed to. I didn’t recognize that I was struggling with postpartum depression until my daughter was almost 1 year old.
Eventually, with help from others and proper care, I started feeling more like myself. I found comfort in getting back to work again, and I’ve since settled into a new role at Community Health Choice, a local, nonprofit, Managed Care Organization (MCO) offering Children’s Medicaid (STAR) and CHIP programs. Even now as I’m working remotely and caring for my 4-year-old, I do everything I can to support other mothers because I know how difficult it can be.
I share my perinatal experiences, not to scare women or their loved ones, but to provide solidarity to other women who may have experienced similar struggles. Motherhood is a miraculous journey, and it should not be taken for granted.
I also want to convey how important it is for childbirth to be carefully monitored. It is not a given that babies are born healthy, and so many nuances need to be addressed before, during, and after in order to achieve healthy outcomes. In the end, we cannot guarantee that there will not be complications, but we can do our best to be as ready for them as possible.
My best advice for expecting mothers is to secure continuous health insurance coverage where possible, build strong support systems, check-in with yourself, speak up when something is wrong, and most of all, know that you are stronger than you think.
November and December typically bring the open enrollment period for Marketplace/Affordable Care Act health insurance. During the pandemic, many Texans may have lost their health insurance coverage and now is the best time to purchase health insurance. Nine in 10 Texans who buy Marketplace coverage get financial help to lower their monthly premiums, truly making it an affordable option.
For every piece of my story that went right and saved me and my baby’s life, I know there are women for whom this is not the case. That is why I am dedicated to fighting for every woman and her unique struggles. I know that when we support women, our sisterhood only grows and fortifies us to get through whatever complications may come our way.