Introducing the Vassells!
Couple Nicole and Oronde Vassell are the proud parents of twin girls, Aribella & Anistasia. The Florida-based couple has been busier than ever taking care of their one and a half-year-old twin girls while preparing for their next bundle of joy. Nicole laughed, “It’s never a dull moment in the Vassell household!”
Even though the husband & wife feel blessed of having their daughters, they admit that it has been a struggle caring for two babies! “They are full of energy!” Nicole admitted.
The reality of raising the next generation is one thing, but having DOUBLE the diaper duty can be overwhelming for the southern mom. Nicole says, “Financially, it can be daunting. My husband & I have to worry about double the wardrobes, double the vaccines, and ensure that both babies can see the pediatrician. Taking care of one baby is a lot, but two is a stretch! It’s not the same as having kids close together in age. Especially mine; they are overly active!”
Nicole’s doctor informed her that she was more likely to develop complications such as preeclampsia (a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system) & gestational diabetes (a condition in which your blood sugar levels become high during pregnancy) while carrying twins. Also, the doctor noted that it was highly likely that the babies will be born prematurely. 60% of twins are born prematurely, where babies are born before their bodies and organs are fully matured. Nicole admitted her fears, “I went from being excited about my pregnancy to researching like crazy, fearful of what could happen to them once they were born!”
Raising twins is one thing, but the pressures of being a mom is another. Nicole does know and understand the harsh reality of being a Black mom in today’s climate. “I don’t trust this society; this government, to see them as the beautiful Black girls like they are. Because they don’t see me as a woman, but as a Black casualty. ”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women are three times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than White women. Nicole knows this oh too well. “Knowing these facts and having those statistics in your face while you’re pregnant; it’s scary!” she said, “I fear for my babies and my life.”
Dr. Ana Langer, director of the Women and Health Initiative at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, shares Nicole’s fears. She stated to The Heart Association that the reasons behind the racial disparities are the lack of access and poor care quality. She pointed out that it affects particularly among women at lower socioeconomic levels. She continued, “Basically, Black women are undervalued. They are not monitored as carefully as white women are. When they do present with symptoms, they are often dismissed.”
Still, Nicole pushed through the statistics and found a doctor who made her health a #1 priority. “I researched and found a Black doctor in my area that has delivered twins before,” Nicole said, “I didn’t want to take any chances!” A normalcy a lot of Black mothers make when choosing their OB/GYN. Debbie Allen, a clinical director of Tribe Midwifery in Los Angeles, California, became a midwife when her doctor didn’t honor her wishes when giving birth to her firstborn. “It can be very intimidating going to an OB or any doctor and feeling like they’re the expert in this field,” she told LAist, “but I think that you can’t be intimidated about something that could be life or death for you. I think we go into an OB’s office assuming that they have our best interest, & they may, but sometimes you just get lost in the bigness of that.”
Having this knowledge while pregnant with twins was a scary reality for Nicole, “I feel that I’m dealing with two whammies,” she said, “My pregnancy was different because of the risks of having twins and because I am a Black mother. However, I know that I push through for my daughters. It’s a real struggle raising twin Black daughters, but it’s a struggle that I know I’m not the only one going through. I pray for my twins. I pray for my health. I pray for every mom.”