Black History Month Essay Contest: Second Place Winner Krystal Overvig

Image provided by Krystal Overvig

Krystal intends to pursue a double major in English and Education. She wrote this essay as a requirement for her African American Literature course and was relieved when she put down the pain she had felt from this experience for many years. She never intended for this to reach such a large audience but hopes that by now doing so, she will be able to raise attention to the inequalities that exist in the healthcare system.

Sadly, I have experienced the “Strong Black Woman” trope on more than one occasion. The most painful time was during the summer of 2015. At this point, I was pregnant for my fourth time, but with one already having ended in a miscarriage. While working my usual 8-hour shift one day, I started getting unbearable false labor pains. For the remainder of my shift, I tried to push through them, to be the “Strong Black Woman” I’m supposed to be. When it was finally over, I was willing to let my significant other take me to the hospital to get checked. After some time had passed, they did an ultrasound, and he was doing fantastic. His growth was on track, and his healthy heartbeat was music to my ears. I went home comforted, even though I was still in pain. 

As soon as I got home, I went to bed and hoped to sleep the pain away. However, the next day I woke up with even worse pain. I dreadfully sat up in my bed and thought about how I would possibly make it through the day. After some time, I finally got up, and once in the bathroom, I saw the most horrible thing I have ever seen in my life. While it is something that I see once a month, I will just roll my eyes and go about my day; seeing the blood while pregnant shattered my world. Finally, I realized I was having real labor pains and would lose this baby. 

We immediately rushed to the hospital even though, in our hearts, we knew it was too late. When we made it there, I got put into a room and then felt like I just got forgotten about. The pain kept increasing, yet nobody was doing anything to help. I just had to lay there and be strong, but that was a task I failed. When my screams of pain had reached an unbearable level, a nurse charged in and snarled at me “Can you keep it down? The other patients can hear you,” then promptly left and was gone before I could utter a single word back. 

I felt so let down in my body for doing this to me, but worse than the failure in myself was the brief moment of heartlessness I felt from this nurse. Shrugged aside while enduring labor pains and feeling despondent, knowing my child will die once out of my womb. But how dare I bother the other patients in the hospital with my agony and heartache? Black women are stronger than this, right? I had to get through this painful ordeal quietly because I’m a “Strong Black Woman.” I had to suffer losing my child before meeting them because I’m a “Strong Black Woman.” I had to accept that “these things happen, you can try again” because I’m a “Strong Black Woman.” I had to deal with life immediately, moving on, as usual, the next day because I’m a “Strong Black Woman.”

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