A Better Birth Is Possible

September 2000, Atlanta. I had just celebrated my 23rd birthday. After a summer spent cashiering at Whole Foods for $8.25 an hour, and with my senior year at Spelman College about to start, I was already stress-planning my schedule. For a moment, though, all that worry came to a pause. I stood in my cramped apartment bathroom, heart racing, and called Shawn in to join me. Together we stared at the pregnancy test strip. Though deep down I already knew the result—my cycle ran like clockwork—I still held my breath until the second pink line appeared.

When I entered the campus gates that fall semester, I carried more than a

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