NIA PARKS

Mom, Advocate

 

I AM ONE-HUNDRED PERCENT DOWN TO ADVOCATE BECAUSE A LOT OF WOMEN DON’T HAVE SUPPORT THAT FEELS POSITIVE.

– Nia Parks

I WAS HEALTHY, I WAS YOUNG, BUT I STILL HAD A MISCARRIAGE

It was my first pregnancy. I had just turned 20. It was with the guy had been talking to. 

When I found I was pregnant, he told me he wasn’t ready, and he is a white guy. I had just barely met his mom and he wasn’t ready for all that. I was in a situation while I was kind of thinking about getting an abortion, but then I was like, “I’m gonna have the baby.” 

I was going to doctor’s appointments on time and everything. Probably like two weeks later, I had a miscarriage. I knew right away because you know right away. I was at home and then I just started cramping. I went to the bathroom what came out was real chunky. I told my mom and she was like I think you had a miscarriage so keep all that and take it to the doctor.

There weren’t any reasons why, I was healthy, I was young. But because it was my first pregnancy, it wasn’t like I could have expected to have any type of complications besides, of course, what happened which was, a miscarriage. It was with a guy that I was really in love with at the time, so it was heartbreaking to know that the baby didn’t survive, but I also believe what my mom says: It wasn’t my time and God knew that, and so it wasn’t supposed to be.

 MAKING A CHOICE WAS DIFFICULT, BUT I WOULDN’T TAKE IT BACK

 

Soon after, probably less than a year after my miscarriage, I got pregnant with my son. I was actually going to get an abortion because I was supposed to be going to Los Angeles to be an extra on an up-and-coming show at the time, The Parkers. The Parkers with Mo’Nique herself. I had to decide if I was gonna have an abortion or if I was really going to have the baby. But the father was like I really want to have the baby and had a lot of support from my family and his family, so I was just like “Nia, you should have the baby.”

I had my son, which I would never take back now, because, he is the best thing in my life. But I had a very, very bad pregnancy. The actual pregnancy was really, really bad. Everyone says, “Oh, you had morning sickness for a little while,” but I never knew that it could last the whole time. I wish I would’ve known that because that was really one of the reasons why it prevents me, to be honest, to get pregnant again because my morning sickness was so bad when I was pregnant with my son.

SHE DIDN’T GIVE UP ON HIM, BUT THE DOCTOR DID

We went to the community hospital and thank God, my best friend at the time from high school, her mom was a registered nurse working there. She came in for me at like four o’clock in the morning when I felt the contractions. She had like set me up with a nice bedroom and all that good stuff and having all the bells and whistles. When I got my epidural, my son’s heart rate dropped, so they checked him and found that the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck twice. I had an emergency cesarian right away. Within like five minutes, they put me down to sleep, and the next thing you know, they are waking me up and telling me the baby is fine, he’s stable. 

But what happened when I was sleeping was that the doctor tried to deliver my son, and they didn’t deliver him, he was dead. They tried to give him CPR for about 8 minutes and he didn’t come back to life. So the doctor went out to tell my baby’s father and my family that the baby didn’t make it.

Thank God, she was my RN because she kept giving him CPR for two more minutes after that, and she brought him back to life. So she ran out to the doctor and everyone crying and told them “I stabilized him. He is alive. He is alive!” 

They let me see him for five minutes and sent him off to Valley Children’s because he was having seizures. I didn’t see him for two weeks. My whole pregnancy experience was a whole rollercoaster. 

NAVIGATING WIC AND COUNTY RESOURCES WAS HARD

When I was pregnant, there was the WIC program that was really helpful. Of course, welfare was, too, because I was a single mom. Those are the two major supports. My mother worked for the county, so that was helpful, also. I got most of my support because she could answer many of the questions I couldn’t and knew the things I didn’t know. That happens a lot when you’re a young mother. You don’t know the paperwork or everything that has to do with the paperwork, and you don’t always have someone there to guide you through it. So having that from her was really helpful. Those are the two major resources I had, the county and WIC, besides my doctor’s office and MediCal.

HAVING TWO PARENTS AT HOME MADE ME WANT THAT FOR MY KIDS

I had both parents in the home, and they’re still married to this day, so I’ve had that great foundation of having two parents in the home, which, that also wanted me to be a good parent and have that foundation also for my kid, even though it didn’t work out that way. Having that foundation of having two parents in the home and knowing that you have that support from the other person, was one of the biggest things that made me want to be a mother.

I was a kid that got everything I deserved as a child, so I would love to get that to my children, too. If I can’t get that to them, I don’t want to bring them into the world with all that stress and poverty. I know that some people say that it’s a life and everything like that. Don’t use it as a form of birth control. I just thought that it was the right decision for me at the time, at my age, and with what I was going through.

NOTHING MAKES YOU FEEL WARM IN THESE SITUATIONS

Maybe two years after I had Brian I had my first abortion. I was with a guy for 6 months and found out that he was married. After I broke up with him, maybe like a week or two weeks later, I found out I was pregnant. I had my mind set that I wasn’t gonna put myself in a situation like that ever again if I ever had another kid, so I didn’t.

I didn’t really get any support as far as post-abortion. Like no one to talk to about the decision or any psychiatric help. It was my first time so I was really nervous and scared. When I got to the clinic, I just sat there and didn’t talk to nobody. My mom had to be there to pick me up because they don’t let you leave alone. She wasn’t supportive of my decision, but she was gonna support me no matter what because of the situation. 

Don’t get me wrong the doctors and everyone in the clinic were nice. They made you feel welcome. But going through an experience like that for the first time, nothing’s gonna make you feel warm. That first experience was kind of traumatic but I got through it.

GET ON SOMETHING MORE PERMANENT

That was the first abortion and I’ve had quite a few of them. I ended up dating another guy. I had not the sweetest past, and I ended up going to jail. I told him he didn’t need to stick around but he did. When I got out of jail, I was with him and I got pregnant again. I didn’t tell him, I didn’t tell anybody actually. I ended up going and having a friend pick me up. Going in the second time, the process felt easier because I knew what to expect. 

That time they suggested birth control to me. They put me on the Nuvaring, but I still got pregnant and ended up having another abortion. After that, I was like “Okay, Nia, you got to get on something more permanent.” So I went and got the shot.

BEING THERE FOR OTHER WOMEN IS IMPORTANT TO ME

I recently supported my friend. She got pregnant with a guy that she wasn’t in a relationship with. The guy didn’t want to have the baby, so she turned to be was basically like “What should I do here?”. Because I was one of the only friends who is open about having gone through this before, while many my other friends talk about the “right thing to do.”

She came to me and was like, “If I make an appointment, will you come pick me up?” I said, “Sure, I will be supportive of you if that’s what you decided and you feel that’s the best thing for you.” If you don’t want to bring a child into the world that you can’t support, then I’ll be there for you. She went to Planned Parenthood, and then she called me to pick her up. She came to my house after and stayed for the day to recover because she didn’t want anyone to know that she had got this done. 

There’s also the time when I took someone down there, and when we got there, she didn’t want to do it. She ended up having her baby and her son is my godson. Unlike a lot of my friends, I’m not judgmental, so they feel like they can come to me and get advice. Just because you have an abortion when you are not ready, does not mean that you cannot have a child later.

WHAT I WISH I KNEW AS A YOUNG PERSON

We don’t tell this to young people. In high school, they kind of give you a birthing class, but they don’t really give you the fundamentals of how to take care of a baby or what it’s going to require of you to take care of a baby, the stuff that you need to do it. If I had a class or something like that, like a pre-parenting and birthing class, something that was free and I could get to, that would have helped me to make a decision on to maybe wait or to have sex later or whatever the situation, before I had kids.

We’re at the time and the age now that kids are having kids, and they don’t know how to raise them, and they don’t know the foundation of what it is to have a supportive family, because they might have not come from a supportive family. When a kid has to deal with poverty or has to deal with bullying or any of those other kind of situations, including a disability, that puts a lot of pressure on families and children and mothers in general. That would be something I’d want to see for Fresno, just a major parenting course or something like that in school for kids.

MORE FAMILY SUPPORT AND MEDICAL EDUCATION

We need to have more family support. Having that foundation does help out when it comes to being a single mother. Also, being more educated about what leads to having a child, and then the outcome of having that child. A lot of people just think it’s easy as if you can get on welfare or, as being young and single and having a mentality about it. That’s where really the support needs to be at, is with the young people. 

I think if we had more medical attention and if where we were able to get better medical attention, Black women would be better off. I know quite a few women right now who are pregnant, and who haven’t even went to the doctor yet. 

Those are big issues. We need the support around families so that they know that they have the support to go do those things and they don’t feel alone, or if they’re in poverty, they don’t have to feel like they can’t afford it, to take care and have a healthy baby. There has to be a good amount of medical support and family support.