Pregnancy in a Pandemic: An OB/GYN Answers Your Questions Joy Baker, M.D., FACOG

Disclaimer: Information about the SARS-COV2 that causes COVID-19 is evolving on a daily basis. My opinions expressed here as solely my own, and are based on the medical consensus TODAY, and may change based on emerging evidence.

Question 1- Can coronavirus affect pregnant women?
• SARS-COV2, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19 can affect anyone, including pregnant and postpartum women. We are still learning many things about SARS-COV2, so information about how this virus affects the pregnant or postpartum woman, and not to mention newborns, is pretty limited. The consensus in the Medical Community is that pregnant women should assume that they are just as susceptible to SARS-COV2 as any one else in the population, and, with the normal changes in pregnancy like decreased air reserve in the lungs and risk of blood clots, pregnant women may be at increased risk for worse outcomes than the general population if they develop COVID-19.

Question 2- Is immunity low during pregnancy?
• The short answer to this question is “NO!” Many years ago, the immune system during pregnancy was considered to be very similar to the immune system of a person after an organ transplant—where the fetus was viewed as the “foreign organ.” The biggest concern after and organ transplant is that the person’s body “rejecting” the transplanted organ. Because a baby is part of two different people, it was assumed that the mother’s immune system must be “suppressed” to avoid “rejecting” her baby. Today, we know better. Emerging research has proven that the immune system in pregnancy is actually quite complex. The fetus’ developing immune system, and the placenta also play a big role in how a woman’s body responds to viruses and bacteria. Depending on which trimester of pregnancy a woman is in, her immune system may respond differently to bacteria or a virus like SARS-COV2. The Medical community is learning more daily about the pregnant woman’s response to SARS-COV2. In some communities, hospitals are universally testing all pregnant women who come in. Many of these communities are finding that 20-40% of pregnant women are positive for the SARS-COV2 virus, but more than 80% of the moms who test positive have only mild symptoms, or no symptoms at all. This likely speaks to the very complex, efficient functioning of the pregnant woman’s immunity along with the fetal-placental immune complex. We are now learning that the pregnant woman’s immune system is working synergistically with the immunity produced by the placenta and the baby to form a sort of “super immunity”—so researchers conclude that it is much more likely that the immune system during pregnancy is changed and ENHANCED, versus “suppressed.” 1 (Am J Reprod Immunol. 2010 Jun; 63(6):425-433)

Question 3- What are the safe ways to boost the immune system while pregnant?
• Immune boosters are agents that can help boost our immune’s response to infection. Often, these are agents may be foods, vitamin or mineral supplements, herbs, or even exercise. I always recommend that my patients eat a very balanced diet with REAL food—especially plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are chock-full of vitamins and minerals that help boost immunity, and improve health overall. Moderate exercise is something I also encourage. For best results, mamas should get 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days per week, at the level that they are used to. For example, if a woman was a weight-lifter or a yogi before she became pregnant, she can certainly continue doing what her body is used to doing. Alternatively, if a woman decides to start a fitness journey during her pregnancy, I recommend she start with low impact exercise like stretching, walking, or swimming. Of course, every pregnant woman should consult her Obstetrician prior to starting a fitness journey. Other “immune boosters” may be helpful as well. I’m personally a big fan of essential oils, and use essential oil blends with clove, orange, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus, and rosemary in a diffuser. Many naturopathic immune-boosters can be used during pregnancy, however, each woman’s pregnancy and health condition is unique, so I always ask my patients to bring any supplements they are considering to their appointment so we can look at them together.

Question 4- How to protect your baby from coronavirus in pregnancy
• During an International Pandemic, almost every pregnant woman’s first thought is ‘How will this affect my baby?” The good news is that it does not appear that “vertical,” or mother-to-baby transmission occurs with this particular virus. In fact, many viruses that have been studied in pregnancy have a hard time breaking through the maternal-placental-fetal immunity “super team” I speak of above. There are some viruses that have been found to pass from mother to baby, and while we are learning more and more about SARS-COV2 each day, so far, there have been no case reports of babies being BORN with the virus. With that said, it is important to note that newborns ARE susceptible to this virus, and some newborns have contracted it from their mothers shortly after birth. Many hospitals are doing the best that they can to protect newborns from becoming infected by trying to practice “mother-baby social distancing”:
o Keeping babies of infected mothers in the nursery if there is space available, or placing the bassinet at least 6 feet away from the mother—preferably with a physical barrier between them such as a curtain.
o Strictly limiting visitors to the maternity and newborn care units. Many hospitals have limited visitors to 1 designated support person (the same person supports during the entire hospital stay), and in some extreme, rare, cases, hospitals have implemented a “no visitor” policy on their maternity ward.
There is much debate about visitor and infant separation protocols throughout the medical community. Personally, while I understand the importance of protecting newborns with fragile immunity, I also think it is very important for birthing people to have support. I am allowing one designated visitor.

Question 5- What type of food increase pregnant women immunity?
Here are some examples of foods that help boost the immune system and promote health:

Berries, especially Elderberries have Antioxidants
Button Mushrooms have Selenium & B vitamins
Watermelon had glutathione
Wheat germ contains zinc, antioxidants, and B vitamins
Low-fat yogurt- Vitamin D, Probiotics
Spinach -fiber, folate, vit C,
Black, White, or Green Tea contain disease-fighting polyphenols and flavonoids.
Sweet Potatoes have beta-carotene, which becomes Vitamin A
Broccoli- vitamins A and C,Glutathione
Fresh Garlic(Not powder) has ability to fight bacteria, viruses, and fungi
Chicken Soup had carnosine that can protect your body from the flu virus.
Pomegranate Juice may help your body fight bacteria and several kinds of viruses, including the flu.
Ginger contains Antioxidants and is effective against nausea

Question 6- What exercises and routine helps boost immunity system?
• 30 minutes of moderate exercise most (at least four) days per week has been proven to improve overall health—especially heart and lung health. In pregnancy, I recommend exercising at the level your body was used to prior to being pregnant. For example, if you were walking 2 miles a day before you became pregnant, you can safely continue doing so. In addition, swimming, yoga, and dancing are great options for pregnant women at any fitness level.
• Along with exercise, good sleep routines are essential to maintaining optimal health and immunity. When we are tried, our immune system is not functioning at its optimal capacity. Sleeping 6-8 hours out of every 24 hours is a great way to allow your body to repair itself and function normally. Late second and third trimesters are often the most difficult times for pregnant women to achieve restful sleep. Talk with your doctor if you are having trouble sleeping. For my patients, I often recommend Sleepy Time Tea with chamomile and Valerian; warm baths with epsom salt and lavender, as well as online sleep stories or meditations. If these are not successful alone, I often add Benadryl or Unisom before bedtime, which are both safe mediations to take in pregnancy.
Question 7- How to prepare for doctor or hospital visits during pregnancy?
• Every hospital or doctor’s office may not have the same policies. This is because policy is often made based on how many really sick people are in your area. In areas with fewer outbreak, policies may be more lax, whereas, in areas that have been hit hard by COVID-19, you are likely to find stricter policies on visitors, appointment availability, and ability to schedule certain surgeries. Nearly every hospital has temporarily stopped allowing visitors with the exception of one designated visitor on the maternity floor. Most clinics are allowing limited or no visitors in the office for prenatal care
o Prepare by calling ahead to find out your doctor’s office or hospital policy on visitors.
o If you have other children, Make sure you arrange childcare before your appointment or hospital stay. Children under 18 have not been allowed in most offices or hospitals unless they are being seen by the doctor. Also, be prepared for the real possibility that children may not be allowed to visit while you are in the hospital.
o Choose one designated labor support person. Make sure you also have a backup support person on standby just in case your original Support person becomes ill or is screened upon entry to the hospital and is found to have a fever or other COVID-19 risk factors and is unable to accompany you.
o Be prepared to have a nasal swab and be tested for Corona virus—many labor and delivery units are moving toward rapid testing for every mom. You may also be asked to wear a mask.
Question 8- Can coronavirus transmit from mother to child in the womb?
• Based on the limited data we have, it does not appear that this Coronavirus is transmitted from mother to baby in the womb, however, it is very important to make sure mothers are not potentially transmitting the virus after giving birth—that is why social distancing is so important, even if it mean distancing yourself from your baby if you have the virus. Being away from your baby for a few days is definitely painful, but certainly less painful than being away from them forever!
Question 9- Can breast milk help shield infants from coronavirus?
• Yes! The antibodies, or proteins that we make to fight infection, are passed to our newborns in breast milk. Breastfeeding is still definitely recommended. If a mother has tested positive for Coronavirus, it’s important that she wash her hands, neck and chest with soap and water, or a skin-safe disinfectant prior to breastfeeding. She should also wear a mask while feeing her baby. If she is continuously coughing or sneezing, it’s safer to have the baby stay at a safe distance away and hand express or pump milk and feed the newborn with a bottle. Breast milk is ALWAYS best!
Question 10- What home remedies can lower the risk of COVID-19?
• The best “home remedy” for lowering the risk of developing COVID-19 is social distancing as much as possible and frequent hand-washing with soap and water for at least 20-30secs (sing the “happy birthday” song through twice to help you keep track of the time).
• Avoid touching your face unless you have thoroughly washed your hands.
• Drink something warm daily, like black, white, or green tea. I usually add clove, cinnamon, and orange to my tea.
• Sanitizing every frequently touched surface like door knobs, fridge handles, countertops, and your phone at least once per day (sanitize more frequently if you have guests) has also been shown to help prevent spread of the virus as well.

No matter how you start, Finish Strong!

This quote by Usain Bolt reminds me of the conversations I had with my parents after college. Wasn’t accepted into medschool right out of college—my MCAT score was too low.

I was devastated because I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was in pre-K. Sad for me, they said “pursue law school.” I told them “I may not be the smartest or the fastest, but I am the most determined.”

I enrolled in an accelerated clinical lab science degree program, took an expensive MCAT prep course, and tried again the next year. My score improved, but not much & I wasn’t accepted. Again.

I passed my MT boards & started working in the lab at Grady with a wonderful group of people. I was afraid to try again for med school, until the day I met Frank Jones M.D., F.A.C.S., MPH in the Grady cafeteria. He was a surgeon who took time to mentor me.

I did the summer program offered then at Morehouse School of Medicine, and LOVED IT! I KNEW #medicine was my path. I retook the MCAT with no prep, but with confindence that this was my moment.

My score improved enough to be accepted at MSM. I graduated with honors & I was able to help tutor my classmates because of the skills I learned in the lab. I have never regretted a single step on this journey. It took me a while to get started, but I am a STRONG finisher!

It matters little where or how you start—it matters how you finish!! You may have more hurdles than others. Perhaps you started further back from where everyone else did. Do not bemoan that. Instead focus on the finish line.

A great pastor I once heard said something to this effect (paraphrasing) sometimes God pulls you back because you are his arrow. When he decides to release you, you will FLY right to the target that he intended for you while everyone who seemed to be ahead of you is still running!!! 🙌🏾🙌🏾 that’s a whole word!!

Stay focused, keep working hard, keep your ears and eyes open for opportunity that God brings your way, and be prepared to move when he is ready. He will shoot you farther than you ever imagined you’d go! I am a living witness!

#dailydoseofjoy #dailyinspiration #deliveringjoymd

A Prayer for Healthcare Workers: National Day of Prayer

Jehovah Rapha, God our Healer, we are honored to have your permission to come boldly to your throne to receive your amazing, sustaining grace.

I thank you for each and every healthcare worker to whom you have entrusted the care of your people. I am so grateful for each clerk, housekeeper, security guard, floor or radiology tech, nurse’s assistant, physical or respiratory therapist, transporter, mental health provider, surgical tech, nursing home or office staff member, biller, nurse, doctor, administrator—every single one who has the honor and the burden of a life devoted to the health and care of others.

You are El Roi— the God who sees us and fully knows us all. You have seen the struggles, the fears, and the heartbreaks of the last year. You have seen us as we cried with the loved ones of those we lost, you have held us when we were so exhausted that we thought we couldn’t go another step, you received 1000s of us into your rest—those who gave their lives in the fight against Covid 19. Through it all, you have continued to strengthen us in the face of immeasurable odds. You have shown us mercy and given wisdom to the wise and knowledge to scholars to create a vaccine that offers us protection and hope.

We thank you for the grace you have poured out upon us in the midst of this unprecedented time of sickness and suffering. God, we recognize more than ever before the work that we must do to ensure that ALL your people receive equal access to and delivery of the care we provide. Forgive us, Lord, for the times we were so concerned with trivial things that we failed to care equitably for all people because we failed to accept and believe that we are ALL made in your very image.

I ask that you give us your eyes that we may see that each person we encounter is a precious one that you died to save. Give us your heart that we might love as you do—unconditionally. Give us your wisdom, that we might choose our words, actions, and each plan of care thoughtfully and compassionately.

Lord, we are eternally grateful to you for the lives and hearts and courage of every healthcare worker.

Now I ask a special blessing on each of us, and on our families. I pray that you meet every need. I ask that you heal your healers and purpose us all to be your hands and feet here in the earth.

In Jesus’ name I pray, So be it.

A Prayer for Healthcare Workers: National Day of Prayer

Jehovah Rapha, God our Healer, we are honored to have your permission to come boldly to your throne to receive your amazing, sustaining grace.

I thank you for each and every healthcare worker to whom you have entrusted the care of your people. I am so grateful for each clerk, housekeeper, security guard, floor and radiology tech, nurse’s assistant, physical and respiratory therapist, transporter, mental health providers, surgical tech, nursing home or office staff member, biller, nurse, doctor, administrator—every single one who has the honor and the burden of a life devoted to the health and care of others.

You are El Roi— the God who sees us and fully knows us all. You have seen the struggles, the fears, and the heartbreaks of the last year. You have seen us as we cried with the loved ones of those we lost, you have held us when we were so exhausted that we thought we couldn’t go another step, you received into your rest 1000s of us who gave our lives in the fight against Covid 19, and you have continued to strengthen us in face immeasurable odds. You have shown us mercy and given wisdom to the wise and knowledge to scholars to create a vaccine that offers us protection and hope.

We thank you for the grace you have poured out upon us in the midst of this unprecedented time of sickness and suffering. God, we recognize more than ever before the work that we must do to ensure that ALL your people receive equal access to and delivery of the care we provide. Forgive us, Lord, for the times we were so concerned with trivial things that we failed to care equitably for all people because we failed to accept and believe that we are ALL made in your very image.

I ask that you give us your eyes that we may see that each person we encounter is a precious one that you died to save. Give us your heart that we might love as you do—unconditionally. Give us your wisdom, that we might choose our words, actions, and each plan of care thoughtfully and compassionately.

Lord, we are eternally grateful to you for the lives and hearts and courage of every healthcare worker.

Now I ask a special blessing on each of us, and on our families. I pray that you meet every need. I ask that you heal your healers and purpose us all to be your hands and feet here in the earth.

In the Jesus’ name I pray, So be it.

Realizing a dream

This week, I realized a dream of mine—I started performing robotic surgery!😍 I’ve been wanting train in robotic surgery since the very first time I saw Jeffrey F. Hines, MD performing robot-assisted cases in 2011. Sadly, at that time, my training hospital did not have a robot— or even great laparoscopic equipment for that matter, so I didn’t get a lot of laparoscopic experience until I got into practice.

After completing my residency training, I chose a job at a site that had a robot and a talented GYN surgeon, thinking I would be treated like a colleague, trained and mentored by this individual. Unfortunately, that wasn’t how it turned out. Instead, that individual said and did things that I allowed to damage to my confindence in myself as a physician and surgeon.

When I moved on from that toxic environment, regaining my confidence and acquiring strong mentorship as a newly minted OBGYN were at the top of my to do list! I had been very well-trained and had done every case available to me during my residency—sometime driving over an hour to scrub into cases with community surgeons all over Atlanta. Thankfully, my next move yielded a wonderful Dept chair who took me under his wing and mentored me and came to all my surgeries. I attended every minimally invasive GYN surgery course I could find, I bought a pelvic surgery simulator, and I practiced relentlessly until I mastered each laparoscopic skill.

After 4 years, I moved to an institution with a robotic surgery program and another great Dept Chair, who invited me to train in robotics!

After months of simulation training and passing all of my courses, I performed my first 3 robotic surgeries yesterday, and I LOVED IT!!! My first case was a pretty large uterus with a lot of fibroids—I was feeling really intimidated, but my trainer and my proctor (a person who basically oversees my first cases and makes sure I am operating safely) didn’t say a word about the size of the uterus, even though it was much bigger than the imaging study originally led me to believe. I was so tempted to go back to straight-stick laparoscopy—what was most comfortable for me, but I refused to go back to my comfort zone without at least giving my best try, and so, I docked the robotic arms just as I had practiced time and time again. I sat down at the console, I envisioned completing the case safely and successfully. Then…I DID that case!! And it was faster and easier than if I would have gone back to straight-stick laparoscopic surgery! I was completely amazed that I did it so quickly and smoothly. Then I did another complicated case and finally to end the day, a straightforward one. At the end of the day, my proctor, who has done hundreds of these cases said to me “you made these cases look easy. There is pretty much nothing different I would have done.”

I was on cloud 9!! I praised God all the way home for allowing me to realize this dream, but also for how He has restored my confidence in my ability to do precisely what I believe he put me here on earth to do— to care for women throughout their lifetime compassionately and excellently. I am in awe of all the honor he bestows on me in trusting me to care for his most precious creations.

Looking at the size of the uterus in the first case was SOO intimidating that I was tempted to back out. But then I remembered my favorite Bible character, the Dahveed Israel and Judah (King David), when he faced Goliath and MANY other challenges. He wrote “when I am afraid, I will trust in you.” He RAN out to meet the challenges courageously, even in the midst of fear. I determined to do that as well. I said a silent prayer, slipped off my shoes, and sat down at the surgeon’s console and got started.

God blesses what we DO. In order for him to bless our efforts, we have to MAKE THE EFFORT first—even when we are afraid or intimidated by the scope of our dream.

I was so encouraged by the surgery outcomes and by the lessons of this day! I hope you will be encouraged to trust God’s timing, to pursue the dreams he gives you, and NOT to run from the Giants that seem to guard the territory that YOU know you are to possess!

My VP Looks Like Me!

It’s a whole mood!! Had to pack my pearls for work today, so as soon as I finished my surgeries, I could capture the memory of today. I always wanted to be a surgeon, but I never actually saw a black female surgeon (April Spencer)until I was 25 years old. I had no lack of confidence or determination, BUT there is something about being able to SEE what you aspire too… I knew that day in that classroom that my dream was totally attainable, and so I pursued it with abandon.

There is a girl somewhere dreaming today. She’s dreaming big dreams and wondering if she can achieve them. I hope she is watching history/herstory happen, and I hope she is thinking, “Yes! I can do it!”

My VP wears pink & green
My VP is a Soror

Daughters, Sisters, Women of the World: you can be anything you want to be—the possibilities are endless! 💗💚💗💚

#myvpisablackwoman #myvplookslikeme #myvpismysoror #kamalaharrisday

#BidenHarris #KamalaHarrisVP

Am I Sorry I got the vaccine? NOPE!

Someone commented on my vaccine video that I would be sorry I got the vaccine in a couple days.
Well, it’s been a few days, and yes, I did have a day that I felt kinda crappy, but I am NOT at all sorry—I’m grateful because I understand how my body works and I trust the process. After about 24 hours of sore throat and muscle aches, My symptoms are completely gone and I feel great.

But, Let me tell you what I am sorry for: I am sorry for the people who died literally GASPING for breath. I am sorry for their loved ones who could not be there to hold their hands as life left their bodies—and in many cases they were not even able to celebrate their life at their funerals. I am SORRY that black and brown communities bore the huge burden of disease and we lost so many people! in some areas (state of Michigan) it was TEN Black Deaths for every 1 white death, and that is a #FACT! I am sorry that people have lost their livelihood, homes, and so many have lost hope—depression/anxiety has also risen to pandemic proportions.
I am sorry that instead of taking this pandemic seriously, our country’s leadership chose to play political games, and several politicians MADE A LOT OF money while marginalized communities—including rural poor white communities paid the price with their lives.
I am sorry for every other doctor, every nurse or PA, or NP, or respiratory therapist, tech, etc. who feel like a failure every day because we work damn hard to save these folks with what little knowledge and treatment options we have so far. THAT is what I truly feel sorry about. I am reporting TRUTHFULLY everyday about my vaccine experience on my blog here:

People perish from a lack of knowledge. In all your getting, please make an effort to get an understanding of RELIABLE information. God gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars. I am grateful to Him for giving Dr. Kizzy Corbitt and other scientists the knowledge to develop this vaccine. Any sort of medical treatment is a personal decision, and in order to make an informed choice about whether to accept or decline the vaccine (or any medical treatment for that matter) you have to get the right information. #CovidVaccine #COVID19 #covid19inpregnancy #sciencematters #ThisIsOurShot #blacklivesmatter #blackdoctors

My Covid Vaccine Chronicles



I understand the hesitancy about the Covid vaccine that many folks have—especially black and brown communities, so I am TRUTHFULLY Sharing a VERY DETAILED experience of my journey as I take “My Shot to Crush Covid”

Day 0: first dose of Pfizer vaccine given on 12/23 @1653. I took 2 aleve and 1 Benadryl tablet about 20 min prior to my vaccine to decrease inflammation and allergic reaction. I made the decision to do this because I have a remote hx of severe allergic reactions to foods, pets, and once an unknown environmental allergen in my teens & 20s. I have had to be hospitalized for allergic reactions in the past.

Day 1: 12/24 @ 1653- little soreness the injection site, rated 1/10 on pain scale— feels like the day after a workout. went to work feeling good!

24 hours post injection: 12/25 @ 1653- soreness is gone. My throat is just a little sore 1/10 on pain scale. I feel swollen lymph nodes in my neck— yea!! I know the spike protein is being presented to and my T and B cells and they are being activated to mount an immune response 💪🏾

36 hours post injection: 12/26 @0453- I wake up and my throat is for real sore now 5/10. I stick out my tongue with my cellphone light to check my throat in the mirror. My tonsils are swollen and a little red- Yea! Immune response is in FULL effect. I get throat lozenges and gargle with Listerene and then warm salt water. I went back to bed.

48 hours post injection: 12/26 @1653- throat is feeling better 2/10 on pain scale after hot tea with honey, but I am feeling diffuse body aches about 3/10 on pain scale, and I feel mildly fatigued—took 2 aleve and kept pushing through my day which included traveling by plane (n95 covered by surgical mask, safety goggles, hair covered, old scrubs over my clothes and Lysol wipes and 4 different hand sanitizers in my carryon) to our home in Maryland to spend time with the hubby. I was carrying/lifting luggage and walking relatively long distances in my double masks with no problems. I’d say I was functioning ~ 80%. I was feeling a little “off” but still going about my day. Stopped and got groceries and take out on the way home. @1930, I took 30ml of liquid extra strength tylenol and two throat lozenges, which perked me right up, and hubby and I ate and watched movies til late.

56 hours post injection: 12/27 @10:30 woke up with sore throat 2/10 on pain scale and body aches 2/10. Sneezed 3-5 times, no cough or congestion though. My hubby (who was very skeptical about my getting vaccinated despite LOTS of discussion about the science) is getting antsy and asking if I want to go to urgent care 😂🤣😂. I reassure him that I have felt much worse than this and worked a full 24 hr shift— I’m FINE! Hubby is a worry wart and took my temp. it’s 97.3. He tries to give me throat lozenges, but i refuse because they and the liquid Tylenol have sugar, and I am intermittent fasting for at least 16 hours a day, so no flavored or sugared items until at least 300pm. I don’t feel bad enough to want to break my fast. Sent hubby out for large black coffee mainly to help his anxiety by letting him have something he can do to help. Took an aleve. Posted my Sunday social media content on considering the Covid Vaccine in pregnancy: @1330 I am feeling much better. Throat 1/10, body aches 0/10. My nose is running a little, but I don’t feel bad. I remind myself that getting COVID or even worse passing it to others would feel 100x worse!

77 hours post injection. 12/27 @ 2157: by dinner time, my sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, and bodyaches are completely GONE 😮. I have a runny nose, but otherwise, I feel really good. As an aside, I did a 20hr fast today, which probably helped with inflammation.

96 hours post injection. 12/28 @1715: I’ve felt good all day. I took a Zyrtec last night. Runny nose was gone by the time I woke up today. My energy level is back to normal today.

OFFICIALLY 1 week POST VACCINE!!!! Today, had a little soreness in my throat again. It was 1-2/10–not enough to make me break my 19 hour fast with a throat lozenge (I don’t eat or drink anything flavored during my intermittent fasting hours). My energy was great today—I tackled BJ’s, the grocery store, target, AND reorganizing our kitchen. So I was lifting, bending, and carrying stuff all day without and residual muscle soreness. I’m ok with the sore throat and swollen lymph nodes because I know that means my immune cells are activated and they are going to be pumping out antibodies against Covid-19! We are so fearfully and wonderfully made, y’all! If you ever have a chance to study anatomy and physiology, please do! How God made our bodies is TRULY, unequivocally BRILLIANT. I am so glad that They (God) allow us to uncover the secrets hidden in the functions of our bodies, and to create ways to help the body heal and grow stronger.

Day 12 Post Vaccine. 1/3/21 at 1300. Happy New Year! I enjoyed taking some time off and I did a TON of cooking and freezing healthy meals for my hubby for when I have to go back to work next week. I’ve been feeling great with the exception of mild sore throat here and there—haven’t really taken anything but Halls throat lozenges. No headaches, congestion, muscle soreness, or any other symptoms. I have 9 days to go until my next dose. Much of the data from the trials report that participants have more symptoms with the second dose. This makes total sense. When our bodies are exposed to foreign protein, bacteria, or virus a second time, our immune system remembers it and gets busy faster kicking out those antibodies to fight it off—this is why the second dose is referred to as a “booster” because it “boosts” the number of antibodies against a protein (like the Spike protein that helps Covid attach to our cells in this case), bacteria, or virus.

Because the immune system really revs up fast, we feel more symptoms. It does not mean we “have Covid, or the vaccine made us sick.” Most of the time “feeling sick” is more due to our immune system’s RESPONSE to a foreign protein (antigen) than the foreign protein itself.

Based on the preliminary results, both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines convey very high levels of protection against severe disease. Based on reported data, 5% of people still contracted Covid-19 after being vaccinated, but NONE of them had severe disease, and NONE DIED! We also must consider that most folks getting vaccinated at this point are not getting tested prior to injection. This means some people may have already had Covid-19 PRIOR to vaccination. I got tested 2 days after my vaccine just to be sure I didn’t fall into that category since I had been taking care of Covid + patients right up until my vaccine—my test was negative.

Looking at the death tolls now, I’d say the vaccine is the way to go. People are dying at record numbers, and we don’t have the space, staff, or the most effective methods of treatment. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be vaccinated.

Day 14: today my throat was REALLY sore! I woke up at 0331 and felt pretty miserable 😧. I lost my voice. By 8 that morning I couldn’t take it, so I got checked out—I had strep throat! I got antibiotics and a medrol dose pack and by Day 16, I was back in business! I learned something from this that I already knew, but just didn’t consider—when people are part of a clinical trial, REGULAR LIFE STUFF HAPPENS TO THEM!

You know how every medication commercial has ALLL if these “this medication COULD cause A,B,C,D…?” Well that is because it happened to someone enrolled in the trial, but happened so rarely that they were not able to associate that side effect with the medication being tested, but by law, the fact that it happened to someone in the trial has to be publicly reported.

Now, before anyone asks: The vaccine does NOT cause strep throat. I saw a lady with strep 1 or two days before I felt bad. I clearly recall because I was running around my office trying to find the instrument I use to look at ears and throats😂🤣😂 we have one, but we hardly EVER need to pull it out. I joked with the patient that she should get a second opinion because I hadn’t done a throat or ear exam in so long I lost the scope! I was wearing my mask when I saw her, and she was wearing hers, but we were super close together—checking someone’s thraot requires you to LITERALLY be “all up in they grill!” 😂🤣😂

Day 21: I got my 2nd Dose of Pfizer vaccine today at 11:05am. Like the first time, I took 2 aleve and a xyzal (to prevent allergic reaction) about 10-15 min before my vaccine. I barely felt it. About 4 hours later, I had about an hour of just real fatigue and achy joints—I had been in the hospital for over 30 hours and done a crazy complicated surgery, so I was definitely already tired, and I think the vaccine made it worse. I took a nap and felt back to normal when I woke about 4 hours later. I packed and watched Netflix until it was time for bed. I slept well.

Day 22: I am officially 24 hours out from dose 2. I did surgery this morning at 0730, made rounds, and then went to my office to see my morning patients. I feel normal, other than a teeny amount of soreness in my left arm where I got the injection.

After morning clinic, I took off for the airport—spending time with the hubby this weekend 😍. I easily managed the long walks and lifting required for travel. I’m sitting on the plane as I write this and I feel normal.

56 hours post vaccine: Feeling just fine! So far I seem to have fewer Side effects at 48 hours after this vaccine. Most folks have reported the opposite—they felt more reaction with the second dose than the first—but I guess my path may be different.

Today I am OFFICIALLY 1 WEEK out from dose#2!!!! Based on the information we have so far, by today, I should be generating enough antibodies to have 95% immunity to Covid-19, AND if I am one of the unfortunate 5% of people that STILL gets infected, I have a 100% protection from severe disease!! To God be the Glory!!!!

I am sooooo grateful to be free of the anxiety of becoming deathly ill or passing this virus to my friends and family!! I’ve continued seeing and taking care of patients for the entirety of this pandemic, and each time I enter a room, I am mindful that I am exposed—especially when I am with birthing people who are Covid-19 positive. There is no way to prevent nature from taking it’s course… and I have an up-close, personal seat to that miracle! While that mom is panting and pushing out her blessing, I know that viral particles are floating all over that room; even if the mom has no symptoms. I know that I am the only child of my parents who are aging and have underlying conditions. I know that so many people depend on me. I don’t think I realized how much pressure I was feeling until the pressure lifted!

I woke up this morning and said “Today is the day I should be immune! Today is the day a VP who looks like me is inaugurated! Today is the day President Biden takes office and takes the Reigns on this wild horse of a pandemic!” Today is a great day, indeed!


I’m officially 2 weeks out from my second dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. I feel just fine. The second dose was better than the first dose for me. I had almost no effects. I feel UBER grateful to be vaccinated. At my small hospital, we’ve had about 30 Covid-related deaths in the last 10 days. I was listening to colleagues talk about how HORRIBLE this disease is. One doc lamented “These people are just so sick, they just die before I can even do anything”😭

Covid is surely a killer. I spent 10 years working at a high-volume, tertiary care hospital, where I started in the lab. I have seen very rare, very deadly diseases—even a case of Ebola—but COVID-19 is the worst thing I’ve ever seen in terms of its deadly consequences.

The most important thing is that we all do our part in staying SAFE and HEALTHY.

I encourage folks to get the vaccine when they are eligible. Some people are worried about not having access to a second vaccine after getting the first. To that, I say even getting the first one on board reportedly conveys 80-88% immunity, which is WAY better than none at all. The second can always be given as a booster once available.

My Booster Experience:

So studies have shown that after 6 months, the spike protein antibodies began to wane, making a 3rd “booster” dose necessary to keep immunity high. Since I got my second dose on January 13th 2021, I am almost 8 months out and I am taking care of a LOT of Covid positive patients. The Delta variant is ravaging our small community. Today, we have dozens of people in our small town requiring ICU care due to Covid 19 infection, and the number of vent-dependent folks is in the double digits.

The biggest reason for this is our area’s very low vaccination rates paired with lots of unmasked social activities—we let our guards down when our cases dropped significantly, but we did not turn out in enough numbers to get vaccinated. Now we are paying the price as a community…

My father called me yesterday to let me know he was taking my nephew to the hospital because he was ill and his oxygen levels were below 93%. I was immediately concerned for both of them—my dad because he needs his booster, and my nephew because he is unvaccinated.

Luckily, he was able to rally enough to remain outpatient and get monoclonal antibody therapy, but it prompted me and my dad to get real serious about finding a plan for booster doses ASAP. I called a couple pharmacies and went to one and waited, only to be turned away because I was not exactly 8 months out from my last dose. I ended up just walking in at CVS and showing my vaccine card and I was given my booster without a problem by the nicest pharmacist without any issue.

It was given today, August 30, 2021 at 6:12pm. I took 800mg Motrin and 25mg Benadryl about 1.5 hours prior to getting this dose. It’s now 9pm. I don’t have any soreness or any side effects that I notice at this time. I am getting ready for bed.

#boosted 8/30/2021@ 1812

12 hours after booster, I took 2 extra strength Tylenol to ward off inflammation and rubbed my left arm with Doterra’s Deep Blue lotion to help prevent soreness. I will be alternating 2 Extra Strength Tylenol and 2 Aleve every 12 hours for 2 days to keep any fever or lethargic feelings at bay. After the first shot put me out of commission fir a few days, I developed a plan for the 2nd shot that seemed to work very well (or I just didn’t react much to the second dose). So, since I have a busy week and I don’t have time for the post-vaccine side effects, I decided to stick with this regimen this time around as well!

How I keep post-vaccine symptoms from slowing me down

24 hours after booster I notice some soreness in my left deltoid muscle— kinda like I worked out. I rubbed on more Deep Blue lotion, which helped tremendously. So far, no fever or other symptoms. I worked my usual full day of clinic and made hospital rounds with no problems. I felt normal today.

Vaccinated or not, we ALL need to:

Wear A Mask

Watch our distance

Wash our hands

Let’s continue to do our best to care for others and for ourselves!

Start Healing the Wounds

We have a President!
To God be the Glory!!!
(& immense gratitude to a few God-inspired black women like Stacey Abrams)

My circle knows that I fast at the start of every year to reset my body AND my mental focus. I’ve recently started Intermittent Fasting. I usually fast 16-20 hours and eat one meal a day or one meal &a snack. On Election Day, I decided to do an extended fast, and pray every 4 hours about the election and the state of our country. Each time I felt hungry, I’d say “God I’m hungry for change, God give us justice.” I kept fasting I finally broke my fast at nearly 48 hours, about the time Biden/Harris pulled ahead.

I’m grateful to President Trump for his role in exposing the deep, ugly, festering wounds of racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, our propensity for hatred and violence, and all manner of corruptions in our nation. No deep, gangrenous wound can heal until it has been lanced—Trump was the perfect person to wield the blade—the corrupted tissue must be cut away, and the wound washed out and carefully cared for—systemically (antibiotics, healthy diet, no smoking, etc.) and at the local site (cleansing, removing debris, poultice placement and dressing) so that healthy tissue can grow.

The same is true for our nation. Now that we have opened this wound, it is time to drain away the putridness of hatred in all forms, to get down to the base, to remove the old, dead, diseased way of thinking and acting, so that we will have an opportunity to heal.

My heart is so GRATEFUL right now. Thank you God!

#BidenHarris2020 #HealOurLand

Stop! You’re Killing Me!

All of the public killings and the lynching of Ahmaud Arbery have really been emotionally exhausting to watch. I cannot compute why black people are so feared and hated in this country. I mean, we BUILT a good deal of this country. We raised white children often giving them much more love and affection than we gave our own. We continuously forgive egregious treatment and remain open to try again with our white neighbors. We have tolerated horrible disparities in health, financial advancement, and education… What did we EVER do to whites that was soooo bad that we should be murdered in the streets by our government? In my experience, black people often treat white people better than we treat each other—maybe out of fear? I’m not sure.

As I watched the videos of Arbery’s lynching & Floyd’s merciless murder, I just began to thank God for my life. I am so grateful that my own horrific encounter with a very unstable white GA state patrolman and his colleagues in rural GA did not end in my own death.

In 2015, I was speeding to the hospital to do an emergent cesarean for a baby in distress. I saw blue lights and i slowed down, but I didn’t stop. I was run off the road by GSP in the middle of downtown Thomaston, GA. When I looked over at the officer, he had his gun pointed at my head. He was clearly very afraid and/or angry. His hand was shaking and he was sweating. He told me to keep my hands where he could see them, then he told me to open the door and get out of the car. I knew in that moment with very clear certainty that he was so pumped up on adrenaline that he would kill me if I made a wrong move, so I very calmly told him I could not open the door without moving my hand from where he could see it. He kept his gun trained on my head as he opened the door. I tried to explain that I have a patient on the operating table for cesarean. He told me to get on the ground. He handcuffed me so tight I could barely feel my fingers and had tender purple bruises on my wrists for days. I was wearing bright yellow scrubs with “Dr Joy Baker, OBGYN” embroidered on the shirt. EIGHT more officers, all of them white, showed up and some of them said very unkind things. A female officer made me bend over the police car while she searched me. The original officer finally contacted the hospital and the nurse confirmed that they were waiting on me to perform the c-section. I clearly heard the officer say, “well you’re gonna have to get another doctor cuz she’s going to jail today!”

I was put in the back the police car and taken to a holding cell. It was dark in there. A lady peed on the floor in the corner. I sat there on a concrete block for FOUR hours, as the GSP officer sat outside in his vehicle the entire time “writing up my charges,” so I was not allowed to be booked or given bail until said charges were complete. The black officers and a few white officers were incensed about my having been arrested and apologized profusely. Everyone remarked on “how calm I was.” I only spoke to answer direct question. I knew if I started to speak, the rage inside me would come spewing out, and I know speaking in anger would only make my situation worse. Finally, my department chair, a well-respected, older white Doctor who had been constantly calling the station about me, just walked into the jail just as they were trying to book me. He had called the sheriff and demanded I be released. He was soooo angry. He looked at me and said, “Let’s get out of here.” And he walked me out of the jail. No one even tried to stop him. He took me to get my car and made sure I got home ok. He took over my night call at the hospital and told me to rest. I had to get a local attorney, and spent >10k to get the charges dropped so I would not lose my medical license due to a felony charge for “evading the police.”

The most crushing thing about this case was that just 2 weeks earlier, my Caucasian scrub tech had been blue-lighted on the way to an emergent c-section. She didn’t stop. Once she turned into the hospital and jumped out of her car, the officer simply pulled off. Not even a warning.
I was devastated and fearful for quite a while. My attorney explained to me that anyone, including an ambulance driver must stop for blue lights—regardless of the situation. I just don’t know how I would explain to any family that their baby died because I got pulled over. Every minute matters when you have a baby in distress, and I wasn’t willing to risk it by stopping. The whole incident just reminded me that in the eyes of some policemen, I will always be a suspect. I may be a doctor, but I’m perceived as just an “uppity nigga” by some people. A white police officer’s suspicion of me, whether founded or unfounded can easily turn deadly. Turns out the office who stopped me at gun point had just been disciplined for recent inappropriate “crazy cowboy behavior” was how my attorney put it.

I often wonder what made him so afraid of me—a lone, unarmed black woman in sunshine yellow scrubs with sunflowers embroidered on them…maybe it was my big Afro, or the skin I’m in that made him call 8 other cops, one of which told me that I was lucky the “nicer cop” stopped me, because he would have maneuvered so that I flipped my car and might not have been alive. I’d never experienced that kind of malicious attitude from any officer in my life. I grew up being the only black in my class for the majority of grade school and in my undergrad. I didn’t really believe that black people were so hated—I thought that was only in the stories my parents and grandparents told about segregation. Most of my teachers and the kids I went to school with loved me, and I loved them… that day broke something in me. Every time I speak of it, I get emotional. That was the day I realized overt racism is still very REAL in this country.

I grieve for the lives of Ahmaud, Breonna, George and all of my brothers and sisters killed in a spirit of fear and hatred, by those sworn to serve and protect them. I know all white people are not overtly or even covertly racist. I know all police are not murders. I know this just like I know all doctors are not negligent or egomaniacal. I also know that there are way too many white people who remain silent and therefore complicit in racial injustice, and that too many police are practically trained to fear and be overly aggressive with people of color—especially black people. I know this just like I know doctors who don’t speak up when they KNOW their colleague are doing dangerous things or failing to do the right things for patients—I’m guilty of it myself. No one really wants the smoke that comes with bucking the system too much. The problem is that in the end, people can die because we don’t speak up more!

Blacks are 2.5 x more like to be killed by police than our white counterparts which is really sad when you consider that we make up only 13% of the US population, while whites make up 62% of the population. These are not just deaths of “insignificant criminals,” or even innocent blacks. These killings by police and citizens acting as police have been the slow erosion and death of everything this country is supposed to stand for—liberty and justice and equal opportunity for all. These killings are a blood guilt on our nation. The blood of senselessly murdered minorities cries out to God just as the blood of Abel did when Cain murdered his brother simply out of contempt. Please know that God sees this. He hears us cry out, and He will hold this nation accountable. We are our brother’s keeper.

Cuff marks