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

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.

Goliath is Going Down!

I did a 24 hours shift yesterday, and I just woke up. The shift actually wasn’t that busy, but I had to do my first cesarean since this COVID-19 pandemic became official. The OR and birthing space are actually my happy places, but yesterday, for the first time in a long time—maybe since my first year of residency, I felt fear. I keep hearing, reading and seeing the reports of healthcare workers dying. I keep reading that 20-40% of pregnant women coming into NYC Labor units have tested positive for SARS-COV2.

As I put on my N95 mask, mask cover, goggles, face shield, hat, gown and gloves—all that I will need to reuse on my next shift—I silently prayed for protection and peace. Then… I got a little angry about my fear, and I started to pray a different prayer—that God would give me a heart like David, who grabbed his weapons and ran out to meet the enemy boldly declaring that God would give him victory!

Anyone who knows me knows that The Dahveed Isreal and Judah (King David) is my absolute favorite Bible character of all time. I have studied his early life, ascension, reign, battles, insecurities, decisions, and most importantly his worship and faith for years now. The Dahveed (translates as “beloved leader” or “champion”) was originally know as “Ben Gerber,” or “Son of the master” because he wasn’t acknowledged and named by his father until he was 15 years old. At that pivotal moment of acknowledgement, His father asked him his name, and he responded “Dahveed,” which was a very clever nickname his Grandmother Ruth (yes the Ruth who snagged Boaz) gave him as a child—even when he was small and insignificant, she aptly called him a “beloved leader” and “champion.” The Dahveed was a hero no one ever saw coming except the prophet Samuel, yet he confronted a giant on the battlefield who had been killing men since his boyhood. Dahveed was without proper “armor” (in those days there was no blacksmith among the tribes of Israel and Judah, so out of the whole army camped on the hill, only King Saul and his son actually had armor). Though he lacked a lot: experience, proper PPE, strong leadership, and even the support of his community, Dahveed knew who God is. He had seen firsthand what God can do, and he believed God would make him victorious. He yelled out “Who is this giant thinking he can challenge the army of the Lord?! You’re coming at me with sword and shield, but I am coming at you in the name of the Lord!” Then the Dahveed grabbed his weapons and ran out to meet the giant without hesitation! The Dahveed had the heart of a champion, but more importantly he believed in that moment, that he was everything God said he was, and that God would deliver victory.

So I remembered the calling and anointing on my life, strapped on all the recommended gear I have, walked purposefully to that OR, picked up my scalpel, and went to work. I was a sweaty mess afterward, but was so grateful to HAVE all the recommended equipment and a hospital system that provides plenty of support.

I woke up this evening with a desire to encourage my fellow healthcare providers. COVID-19 looks big. It looks like a giant we can’t possibly confront and defeat. The list of people this giant is killing grows exponentially on a daily basis. We don’t have all the right armor or equipment. Many of us are afraid and demoralized by the magnitude of this public health crisis. We are worried about protecting ourselves and those we love—I get it, and I am right in it with you. I feel the heavy weight of mental and emotional exhaustion just like you do.

Except… God has never failed me yet. I cannot believe that he has brought me to this place to leave me. However all this ends, He has to work it for my good. I’ve been through and am even now going through a lot of awful, scary, terribly painful things, and God has never abandoned me. Not. Once. We don’t know as much as I wish we knew about COVID-19, but I do KNOW this about my God: I know He has been forever faithful to me, and He will not stop now. So I decided to give up on fear and trust Him. His word says that the Godly are as bold as lions, and that His Spirit will guide us into all wisdom, because GOD gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars.

The unknown is terrifying us, defeating us in our minds before we even step out onto the battlefield. There is a reason the Bible says over and over again “do not be afraid.” Fear is paralyzing and demoralizing. Fear keeps us from thinking rationally and doing what makes good sense. Fear steals our energy and joy—and the Joy of the Lord is our STRENGTH. Fear and sustained stress weaken all our defenses—including our immune system. FEAR KILLS, HOPE STRENGTHENS.

So let’s have hope. Let’s take a chance and trust God. Let’s worship Him and thank Him that he has found us worthy to serve the suffering. Let’s petition Him for wisdom and discernment on how to proceed, what to do and when to do it. Let’s ask for his peace, protection and comfort for our patients, colleagues, families and ourselves. Let’s remember all the victories God has given us and where he has brought us from. Let’s acknowledge that this problem is too big for any one of us, but that it is “light work” for our God, who is keeping the planets in orbit and painting the beautiful evening sky I am watching right now….

Let’s raise a battle cry and run out to meet this enemy knowing that God will fight for us and add the “super” to the work we do in the natural realm. He will give us the strength to face our days. He will fortify our minds, hearts, and bodies by his spirit and by those he sends to offer us physical, mental, and emotional sustenance. He will provide the resources and ingenuity we need win this war—once the Dahveed won a battle by physically tearing down a wall to help his troops escape instead of fighting the enemy head-on!

We have become the The Dahveeds in our communities. I don’t know about you, but my spirit is screaming “Goliath is GOING DOWN!!!” I am choosing to #RefuseFearEmbraceWisdom&KeepFighting

Will you join me? We are #better2gether

Happy at Home?

This made me physically ILL. I have considered serving as a back up physician for CPMs, but I just cannot bring myself or my medical license to do it… it’s unsafe CPMs like this that make me advise against home birth. How do you know what or who you’re getting? I know there are safe, well-trained CPMs our there, but who tracks the quality of their work and complications???

The truth is, most times a healthy woman with a healthy baby will deliver without issue wherever and with whomever is present. The OB or midwife is there to reassure the mama and help her optimize her delivery. But clearly this birth was complicated, and was clearly an MD-level delivery with meconium, elevated BP, and tachycardia?? At home?! The mom left to “fend for herself for hours on end??

I have tremendous respect for the practice of midwifery, but like any medical professional, you must KNOW YOUR LIMITS and seek help when necessary.

If we keep it real, the fact is most women don’t need a hospital and/or an OB for routine vaginal deliveries, but ANY woman can have serious complications during or after delivery that need IMMEDIATE attention. An Obstetrician trains AT LEAST 8 years, then spends another 3 years taking a written exam, collecting a year’s worth of patient cases they managed and then a grueling set of oral board exams to become board-Certified. You don’t absolutely have to have an OB for delivery. MANY babies have been delivered by family members, nurses, midwives, and family docs without any problems. But we are trained for the off the wall, totally unexpected, absolutely emergent complications that can happen. That is why although I support a woman’s autonomy over her own body and her own birth, I simply cannot fully support home births. People don’t hear the horror stories, but I LIVE them with the families and they are always tragic. The hospital and the OB you choose MATTER. You can enjoy your labor and birth comfortably in a hospital. At most hospitals, there is a lot of autonomy if you find the right hospital and doc or CNM. I ASK my patients to make a birth plan. My patients are not starved or chained to beds. They eat and move and bounce and walk. They get an epidural if and when they want. We give them plenty of time to labor, and don’t intervene unless we really need to. All babies are placed skin to skin and left there unless they are having trouble transitioning to being outside the mama. Cords are left pulsing for at least 1-2 minutes, and the the designated person cuts it–usually the father. Baths are delayed, parents must consent to vaccines, pacifiers, and formula feeding.

I think the popularity of home birth is increasing because doctors and hospitals have been painted as “money-grubbing,” “abusive”, “5pm cesarean monsters,” when in fact, many of us are not. Many of the ideals that a woman may be looking for in a home birth are available in a hospital as well, as are OBs, Pediatricians, L&D/ Nursery nurses, CRNAs, and staff who can respond to an unexpected emergency very quickly.

As evidenced by this case, it’s all about who you choose for your care, not necessarily where you deliver. This couple was CLEARY kept in the dark for 60 hours during which Ashlyn and Asa were experiencing some serious complications. To add insult to injury they paid this CPM a cost HIGHER than what an OB in GA would get paid to do a delivery, Prenatal and postpartum care… this whole situation is just messed up an so many levels, and my heart grieves for this poor couple.

One Nation

When I was in middle school, I was a patrol team member. I got to school early every morning and reverently raised the American flag. I helped lead the class in the Pledge of Allegiance Every. Single. Morning. Each afternoon once everyone had gone home, I helped take it down and folded it military style. Growing up, I had such deep respect for the ideals of our country. Baker men and women served our country for generations. I LOVED the constitution and even memorized most of it at one point. Then one day I started to realize that these ideals didn’t really apply to me— they didn’t apply to black people or women. Considering that I am both black and female, I was offended to learn that rights for me were amendments—basically “afterthoughts” that took many many years of struggle and sacrifice to obtain. As I grew into adulthood, I no longer looked at the Flag with the same innocent eyes, and I no longer gave my pledge with the same conviction—right hand crushed to my heart with eyes glued to the flag, immensely proud of my country— because I had seen and experienced enough to know that “One Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for ALL” just isn’t true. I was then, and I am still sooo gravely disappointed. I can’t wrap my mind around the level of fear, hatred and evil that would make someone open fire in a church or in the aisles of Walmart. What sense of intimidation makes it ok to try and oppress/suppress an entire gender, race, or identity??

Have we forgotten that America’s greatness lies in its diversity of people, ideas and skills? The saddest thing is that we betray our heavenly Father by claiming to be a “nation under God.” We are an entire country of delusional people if we think for one second that God is invested in or pleased with the way we treat each other in the USA.

This month, my sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. has our International Day of pray. As we prepare for this special time of corporate prayer, I am going to be praying each day for our country. Its leadership, laws, safety, children, churches, but most importantly, I will be praying for its HEART. That God intervene in the hearts and affairs of men and turn our country’s heart back to Him. That He mold us into “One Nation” under His leadership. I will be praying that He give us his eyes to see each other they way He sees us, that He give us patience and tolerance to bear with one another’s weaknesses and/or differences. I will be petitioning Yahweh for an infusion of Holy Spirit in every individual who claims to be a follower of Christ. My Grandma Ruth used to say, “don’t play around when you call on the name of the Lord, because He will show up!” So I am asking him to “show up” in every individual, every church, every home, every office building and public place, every school, every nook corner and cranny of this nation until we are changed by His presence– so we can become the nation of leaders and examples that we should be.

I invite you

The Renewing of Your Mind

Since I was very young, I’ve loved to study the Bible. As an adult, I’ve only become more fascinated with the Word–especially in its historical, social, linguistic, and cultural contexts. Hands down, the book of Romans is my fave book of the New Testament. Paul really breaks down salvation so it remains forever and consistently “broke.” In Romans 12:2 he gets on this point of “being transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

I like the New Living Translation best:

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

In essence, Paul is saying that in order to live your best life, you gotta “get your mind right.” We cannot live the life God intends for us when our minds are stuck on the hamster wheel of “what if” worries, and stuffed with useless, often false information that we take in from various forms of media all day.

As a women’s health physician and surgeon, I have noticed an alarming increase in the number of people with depression and/or anxiety over the past 5-7 years. It’s at pandemic proportions! I am convinced that the excess of media in all forms is a huge contributor to this phenomenon. We are living in the “Information Age,” where information of all sorts is at our fingertips, and notifications buzz, vibrate and ring all day to alert us of new information available. We are constantly in information overload. Have you ever noticed how a lot of the information we take in has a negative connotation?

Bearing witness to so many women, especially pregnant women, who are suffering in their MINDS prompted me to really start looking at that phrase “renewing your mind.”

I have become convinced that anxiety, depression, stress, and insomnia are likely the most dangerous family of symptoms affecting my patient population. Last September, I started a Fellowship (extra training for practicing doctors in a particular area related to their field) in Transformational Health Leadership. It’s a National fellowship sponsored by Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The idea was to learn how to develop and implement Quality Improvement in my clinic and hospital settings. Given my concern for the mental health of my patients, I chose to focus on improving the quality of care in mental health services for pregnant women in our clinic. My project is simple: screening more for anxiety and depression during and immediately after pregnancy and offering counseling resources and medical treatment to women who screen positive.

Renewing your mind takes work.

We often don’t even realize how much we are focused on negative things that have happened to us (trauma) and the negative things that MIGHT happen to us (worry). Somehow, when we get stuck replaying our “woes and what ifs,” we easily forget what God says. We forget that the finished work of the cross declares us victorious; that we have the mind and power of Christ; that God did not give us the Spirit of fear, but of power, love and a SOUND MIND. We forget that God sustained us through our past, and he will sustain us in our future–whatever comes! We have to do the work of reminding ourselves who God is, and therefore who we are. When we remember that every promise is tested and every word God has shared with us is true, we slowly begin to pull our minds out of the rotation of anxious and hopeless thoughts.

Renewing our minds is the most important thing we can do for the sake of our lives and our family’s lives. Recognize now that the enemy is not after your “stuff” he is not too concerned with your kids, your job, your marriage, your house or your car– the enemy is after your mind!!! If he keeps you wallowing in anxiety and hopelessness, YOU WILL GIVE AWAY all your “stuff!” You will not see or understand God’s intention and provision for an abundant, fruitful life. You will believe the lies that you aren’t enough, that you simply can’t make it, that nothing but negative will befall you… you will just give up and allow your adversary to steal, kill, and destroy your relationships, your health, your family, your career, and your finances at will.

The work of renewing our minds is difficult. First, we must admit that there is a problem. One thing I’ve noticed since I’ve been doing more screening for Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders is that many women have been in denial–it’s the hormones, or the other kids, or my job or my partner’s short comings. When I begin to probe those ladies with positive depression/anxiety screens, almost immediately there are tears. Some flow from a place of embarrassment, but most from a place of release–an admission that they are just “not ok right now.”

Once we have made an admission, it creates space for help from the Holy Spirit, counselors, and/or medications, and it opens our minds to the possibility that life can be better if we decide to take our thoughts captive and allow God to renew our minds.

After just a few weeks of seeing such a need for better mental healthcare for pregnant women, I decided that the Transformational Health Leaders Fellowship was not enough training for me. I decided to pursue a special certification in Perinatal Mental Health so I can do a better job for my patients. I’ve learned so much going to trainings and listening to the stories of women. I am so glad I was led to this project by the Holy Spirit.

We are all now seeing the impact of our country’s poor investment in maternal physical and mental healthcare systems. It’s showing up in our maternal death rates, but also in our divorce/separation rates, our rates of reported behavioral disturbances in schools, our rates of lost productivity in the workplace, our rates or poor school performance and reading levels, etc. The list goes on an on. Healthy women– women who are fit physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually–are the key to a healthy society, and I believe wellness STARTS in the MIND.

Let’s change the way we think, ladies. Then we will change our world.