She was one of my family medicine patients.
I had seen her in the office several times before she became pregnant, but remember her pregnancy most fondly as this was the time we became closer.
She immigrated to Seattle from Somalia but left her family and husband behind. He planned to join her later when his visa was approved.
After a visit to Somalia, she had her first pregnancy and was elated! Childbearing was highly valued in her culture and it made her feel closer to her husband so far away.
Everything was going well until later in pregnancy when the aches and pains started.
She was a cleaning assistant for a house cleaning company in the city – doing hard, manual labor and on her feet all day. She continued to work during her pregnancy.
Then one day she came to me in tears. Her foot was killing her – she had plantar fasciitis, inflammation of the lining of the muscles in the padding of her foot. Each step she took was like walking on needles, but she needed her job because she needed her pay as she was supporting herself. She was at risk of becoming homeless.
Where would she go without work? How would she support a baby? What shelter would she have from the rain and cold of the Seattle winter?
She felt that she had to keep going despite her pain – this pain was clouding the joy of her pregnancy – threatening to make this special moment a scar in her memory.
A doctor’s note was not enough, the pain medication was not enough.
She needed a break, a rest, more time off.
All pregnant people should know they are valued and should have protected rights in the work place.