HOUSTON — Tonjanic Hill was overjoyed in 2017 when she learned she was 14 weeks pregnant. Despite a history of uterine fibroids, she never lost faith that she would someday have a child.
But, just five weeks after confirming her pregnancy, and the day after a gender-reveal party where she announced she was having a girl, she seemed unable to stop urinating. She didn’t realize her amniotic fluid was leaking. Then came the excruciating pain.
“I ended up going to the emergency room,” said Hill, now 35. “That’s where I had the most traumatic, horrible experience ever.”
An ultrasound showed she had lost 90% of her amniotic fluid. Yet, over the angry protestations of her nurse, Hill said, the attending doctor insisted Hill be discharged and see her own OB-GYN the next day. The doctor brushed off her concerns, she said. The next morning, her OB-GYN’s office rushed her back to the hospital. But she lost her baby, Tabitha Winnie Denkins.
Black women are less likely than women from other racial groups to carry a pregnancy to term — and in Harris County, where Houston is located, when they do, their infants are about twice as likely to die before their 1st birthday as those from other racial groups. Black fetal and infant deaths are part of a continuum of systemic failures that contribute to disproportionately high Black maternal mortality rates.
“This is a public health crisis as it relates to Black moms a …