Abi Akintolayo, 33, emigrated from Nigeria at 13 and now lives in Dallas with her husband, Joseph, and daughter Imisioluwa, now three months. A pediatric dentist, Abi is an independent contractor with no paid family leave. She had planned to take six months of maternity leave, all unpaid.
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Nothing about my pregnancy, birth, or postpartum experience is what I could or would have predicted.
I thought I would love being pregnant—but I had hyperemesis, threw up constantly, and then developed gestational diabetes, and it was pretty miserable!
I knew childbirth would be hard. I just didn’t expect that my labor would last days, I’d have to push for three hours, and then I’d end up in the hospital for nine days with fluid on my lungs, migraines, and postpartum preeclampsia. I remember vividly when my doctor came on the last day and told me, “You’re going home.” I burst into tears. Don’t get me wrong—I was relieved, but after nine long days in the hospital sleeping maybe only 10 minutes at a time, I was exhausted. Soreness lingered through the week of discharge. My legs had initially been so swollen, then after I lost all the water weight, my skin looked like I was 80 years old.