Meet Teneshia King, “Giving Birth in America: Lousiana”

By Hannah McCouch

Teneshia King

Before the floods, Teneshia, a pregnant mother of two was working at Walmart, studying to become a medical assistant while her parents cared for her 3-year-old daughter and one-year-old son, two hours away. She had recently broken up with the father of her baby and the depression she’d struggled with for years had returned.“I just felt I was failing my children and myself. My son wasn’t even one yet when I found out I was pregnant.”

During her first pregnancy she was anxious about childbirth, having tragically lost a friend who experienced a childbirth complication.

“I knew hemorrhage was something that came from pregnancy because my friend died from it. She had two other children. I didn’t want to be pregnant forever but at the same time, I didn’t want to die. It built up my anxiety. I was afraid of delivery.”

Because she had two previous c-sections and this pregnancy had come so soon after her last, Teneshia was considered high-risk. She was also anemic and wanted to avoid the blood transfusions she’d needed during her previous pregnancy, but was ambivalent about taking the prescribed iron tablets. Medicaid wouldn’t cover them because she was still listed on her father’s family plan, and the constipation they caused only made her feel worse.

Since starting coursework to become a medical assistant, a brighter future seemed within reach: Teneshia was making steady money, living with a roommate off campus, saving up for a car. Eventually, a friend helped her get a job as a lobby attendant in a local hotel and, after the baby was determined to be healthy, things started looking up again. “I fell on my face a lot. Once I was able to work into progress with money and something to do throughout the day, I started to get better and pick up the pieces.”

Bringing her children from the country to live with her in Baton Rouge no longer feels like such a stretch. “My mom always did say she never worried about me too much because ‘you know where you’re going, and what you’re going to do.’ I believe in a plan.”

Topics: Childbirth, Maternal Health, Pregnancy