“As a community we were able to support mom JoLinda and baby JoyLinda throughout her stay of 136 days in the NICU.”
“I have so many stories,” said Jones, “but I would love to share the story of JoLinda and her baby girl JoyLinda. One day, I was scrolling Facebook and I saw this photo from JoLinda's FB story and I noticed that she was requesting prayer/support for her newborn baby girl who was in the NICU. I immediately reached out and called her, as I have known her for years as she is one of my daughter's long time friends from junior high. Upon connecting with JoLinda, I learned that she gave birth to her 2nd child at home at 26 weeks and 1 day, and was transported to Centinela Hospital. From there, baby JoyLinda who was born at 1 lb. 6 oz. was airlifted to UCLA Hospital and placed in the NICU.
I immediately went into action and reached out to my sister Doula and mentee, Jessica Wade of Mighty Little Giants, to obtain her support from our NICU organization. As JoyLinda continued to progress there was a time in which she had to have a specific heart surgery (PDA mitigation) and was only a few weeks old. So in an effort to provide support and learn more to convey to Mom, I begin to call on some of our Village members, like Dr. Valencia Walker, Neonatologist, and member of Association of Black Women Physicians, to learn more about this procedure to be able to share pros and cons as well if she was familiar with the surgeons. She was, and offered great information for me to share. Further, I reached out to Dr. Melissa Franklin, of Growth Mindset, and co-lead of the AAIMM Countywide Steering Committee, who had a similar surgery that was needed years ago when her baby was a preemie in the NICU. Dr. Franklin also took the time to speak directly to JoLinda to offer support and answer questions.
As a community we were able to support JoLinda and JoyLinda throughout her stay of 136 days in the NICU. Gratefully she came home to a fully decorated room with donations that poured in out of several supportive organizations at 5-months-old and weighing a healthy 8 lbs. To date, I am excited that she is doing well and surrounded by the love of her father and older brother, JoLinda's first born.
All of this was so amazing and reminded me of why I continue in this work to PERSEVERE in spite of the racism, in spite of the dismissal from others about us focusing on Black/AA mothers/birthing persons, Black fathers, partners, and infants. I am truly grateful to be a part of this work as I get to go through my personal community and share what is happening in my work community to save Black mothers and babies. I get to not only congratulate a friend on becoming a future grandparent, but immediately ask them if their daughter or family member they have posted (about) is in need of a doula, midwife, physician, and/or resources from our AAIMM Village. This includes our partner organizations and community members. So come on and join the ride—this journey of support and celebration of Black birthing, fighting for Black birth justice, and celebration of pregnancy with Mothers/birthing persons, their families, and the welcoming of beautiful Black babies.”
If you or someone you know is concerned about premature birth prevention and support, you can find resources HERE including AAIMM partners and Village Fund grantees who are working to help families who are experiencing a premature birth, as well as a Prematurity Awareness Tip Guide full of helpful information.