Identify your advocate

An interview with Kami Wigginton

Kami Wigginton is Ovia Health’s Director of Payer Sales. She’s also a mom to two girls, Simone and Sutton. Here, Kami shares her family building story — the unexpected twists, sibling dynamics, and her advice to other Black women and families navigating the healthcare system. 

Can you tell me a bit about your family planning journey? Did you always know you wanted to have kids?

I don’t know that “Mom” was always at the top of my priority list. Motherhood was a bit of a delayed experience because there were other things at the top of my goal list that I wanted to come first — like going off to college and starting my career. I wanted to do that before prioritizing starting a family. 

And so for me it was about it being the right time in life, but I didn’t know what that journey would look like — or whether it would be easy or hard. I had my first child at 31 and my second at 38 (to my surprise!). I was fortunate that both pregnancies happened naturally, but definitely not on my timeline.

Yes, for such a naturally forward-looking and career-oriented person, what was your reaction to that second pregnancy?

I am a very type A person and I had everything planned out. We had actually just relocated from Kentucky down to Tennessee — and I had thrown away all the baby clothes. I thought it just wasn’t going to happen, and I had accepted that. Plus, the first pregnancy was hard on me and the idea of a geriatric pregnancy alongside my career was intimidating. 

And so, we were planning on skipping the whole pregnancy phase and adopting a toddler. I set up an adoption appointment, but by the time it came around (and after six and a half years of trying) I was pregnant! God laughs at my plans! 

How did your second pregnancy compare to your first? 

As most moms know, no pregnancy is the same. But the second time I went in with my eyes wide open. And so I was prepared for it in many ways, but I wasn’t completely mentally ready to do it all over again. That said, once I got over the initial shock of the pregnancy, it was relatively easy. 

What was it like telling your daughter you are going to have another baby?

That was a good part. Simone was six at the time so she was in her baby doll stage. She welcomed it and we did all the sibling classes at the hospital. It was very cute. 

In a blog post you wrote for Ovia, you discuss feeling as though your care team wasn’t addressing your pain. You wrote: “And I kept wondering, ‘Is it me, or is it something else? Is it because I’m Black?’ Even having that thought is traumatic.” Can you tell me more about that?

Pregnancy is a unique experience where you get nine months to really know your physician, so it’s important that you build rapport and a relationship, and that you watch to see how they address your questions along the way. It’s also important that you’re not scared to switch providers if you’re feeling like it’s not a good fit. 

My primary OBs were great for both pregnancies. They respected me. But then on the day of (i.e. when things get real!) there are different players in the room. Advocating for yourself, having a voice in the room, raising your hand, it’s all okay. You have to ask the questions and listen to your body. My natural personality type and the fact that I work in the industry helped me feel informed and able to advocate for myself.

What’s your advice to someone who feels less comfortable pushing back or speaking up?

Partnership. Get someone in your family who is comfortable speaking up and who can pay attention to the signs. After all, you’re busy having a baby! A doula is a great option if you’re looking for someone who is supportive and an expert, especially if it’s your first or second time. 

And then identify your advocate. For me it was my doctor. She had me change hospitals to make sure I could deliver in the way she recommended. 

There are so many pros and cons to having babies earlier and later in your reproductive years. Can you tell me how age has played a role in your parenting, if at all?

Going into OB appointments and signing my date of birth (in the 70s) while everyone else is in the 90s or 2000s sometimes made me think, “Why are we doing this?” But the benefits are that you’re calmer and more experienced. With my second child, I felt more comfortable, had more financial stability, and just had more information about what to expect. 

The hard part is the energy now that they’re here – keeping up, staying active, and taking care of myself so that I’m here for the journey. But you’ve got to have grace with yourself.  I definitely think my older child got a different experience than my younger one is getting — but I’m not stressed about it, she has someone to play with! I’m always reminding my older daughter, “This is the little sister you prayed for! Go play with her!”

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