What better way to raise awareness than with live music and a brew? Mach of Dimes participant Devonna Baldwin will be hosting a March for Babies charity event at the Bethel Road Pub located at 1375 Bethel Rd. on March 22nd in order to raise money to participate in the walk. All proceeds at the door ($5.00) will be donated to the March of Dimes foundation in order to support research and programs that help babies begin healthy lives. This years’ event will feature live performances from several of Columbus’ hottest artists including Lisa Gain, Wednesday’s Wine, Fiction & Fables, the Pink Flamingos, Brian Kerr, and many more.
Devonna has been a March of Dimes participant since 2009 but did not experience infant mortality first hand until February of 2010 when she lost her son Greggory Graham.
Like many of Ohio’s newborns, Greggory fell victim to late neonatal mortality. This means that Greggory passed away within the first twenty-eight days of his life. Though Devonna took all of the precautionary steps during the time of her pregnancy but still fell short.
“My husband and I had full access to healthcare and we had a great support system, but the pregnancy still went wrong. It makes you wonder if the doctor did everything within his power to prevent any kind of birth defect. If I wouldn’t have gotten the early testing and researched my family’s health history, I wouldn’t have known about Greggory’s condition. A lot of times doctors don’t look at your families health history until you have two to three miscarriages; you have to be an advocate for yourself.”
According to the Ohio Department of Health, Ohio ranks 11th in the nation for infant mortality, in 2011 alone the state suffered from 1,088 infant deaths. The majority of those affected were African Americans, with a rate that was 2.3 times higher than the 7.6 rate of non-Hispanic whites.
“I didn’t know there were that many people affected until I spoke up. I began working with the March of Dimes foundation, and attended the Ohio Infant Mortality Summit where I met different families whom shared their experience with me.”
Devonna believes African-Americans have such a high rate due to lack of education regarding prenatal care and the resources needed to have a successful pregnancy.
“A lot of women don’t go to their first check-up until their second trimester. Prenatal care is a must as soon you are aware of your pregnancy. It’s better to find out about any birth defects sooner than later, especially if it’s something that can be prevented”.
After Greggory’s death Devonna was diagnosed with depression and was given a prescription for anti-depressants.
“At first I didn’t want to take the medication because of the ‘black myth’. In the black community were told African Americans don’t seek counseling or take anti- depressants. But after taking the medication and attending counseling and support groups I began to heal.”
In order to obliterate the popular myth within the black community Devonna is currently in the works of starting a non-profit for African American women who are expecting.
“I want to bridge the gap between African Americans and the resources needed to have a successful pregnancy such as healthcare, education, and support. Prenatal care is a necessity in a woman’s first trimester and there is a lot of pre-planning involved. We need to allow ourselves to get the help we need, and bring this discussion to the table. Hosting this charity event and the non-profit makes me feel better because I am doing everything in the sake of my son’s name.”
The fundraiser is open to the public and all attendees will automatically be entered into the raffle with the chance to win a range of prizes, from makeovers to Mary Kay cosmetics. Private donations will be accepted at the event or online at http://www.marchforbabies.org/personal_page.asp?pp=3253060&ct=4&w=5819802&u=lovelilgreggy