The phenomenal Deborah Nava, mother to Enoch Zhenai (3.5 - not pictured) and her son Kai Sojourner Paz (18 months). When Deborah was just a teen she was in an abusive relationship that she hid from her family. She still isn't certain how it all happened but she work up one morning after having spent time with her boyfriend in a lot of abdominal pain. She didn't say anything at first, but after weeks of having incredible pain, discharge and then spiking a fever her mom took her to the doctor. The doctor asked to speak with Deborah alone after examining her and asked if she'd been sexually active. She hadn't which the doctor said was impossible because she had a sexually transmitted disease that had already led to pelvic inflammatory disease and by that point, permanently scared her internally. Deborah was told that having children would likely be difficult, if not impossible. She fell into a depression and soon found herself with another abusive boyfriend. She finally worked up the never to leave him and says she ran away to Hong Kong for a year. There her passion for women was sparked and she began volunteering in a pregnancy center. She eventually returned home with the hopes of going into midwifery. Deborah still had some of her ex-boyfriends belongings and wanted to return them so no ties remained. She says in hindsight this may have been a poor decision. When she met up with him, he raped her.
She was devastated and scared once again and resigned herself to the fact that she would likely never be with a man, get married or have children. She instead went back to school and trained to become a development worker to provide maternal health education and care to women in the third world. Her current area of focus is North India. Along the way, she met her now husband who she says was willing to believe the impossible with her. They decided to try to start a family against all odds and were able to conceive rather quickly. They were thrilled and started telling people right away. When they went in for their first ultrasound the baby didn't have a heartbeat and she miscarried at home at 10.5 weeks which was a devastating experience. They conceived again and this time she was afraid to tell anyone, even her husband which felt validated when she lost this pregnancy at 6 weeks.
Deborah and her husband conceived again and this time she was carrying Enoch. Her pregnancy was going very well until about 30 weeks when she developed a kidney infection and had to be hospitalized for 8 days. She focused on just getting her pregnancy to term and was able to carry to 41 weeks. At that point, she was told that she was out of amniotic fluid and had to be induced. Induction was not what she wanted but she consented and says that's when the cascade of interventions began. Her labor progressed to 5 cms where she stalled and ultimately delivered via cesarean. Deborah feels that her inability to progress is likely linked to PTSD from her past. The cesarean was horrible and not at all what she wanted. Enoch was healthy and she was able to nurse him to 22 months and told herself she would have a VBAC next time.
Her 4th pregnancy went very well and she did everything she knew to make sure her body was ready going into it. She lost 75 lbs, waited 17 months between children, made sure her diet and supplements were top notch and things went well. This time her water broke at 41 weeks and she was thrilled to not be induced. Her doula was also a midwife and came to her house to check her and see how things were going. She was already 3 cms and labored at home for quite some time before heading into hospital. She began to stall and before she knew it was back on pitocin. After 50+ hours of labor a cesarean was mentioned and she says, she lost it. She went to the bathroom and just began sobbing saying that she was broken. She cried and cried until her husband grabbed her hands and made her say "I'm not broken. I'm a mother!". She says she said it, until she screamed it. Her second cesarean started off very well - she was able to see her son being born, hold him right away and feed him. Then things got a bit fuzzy and she heard the doctor say to her husband, "hysterectomy". When she woke up three hours later she learned that her uterus had ruptured in two spots and she had hemorrhaged severely. She had three blood transfusions and they were able to repair her uterus. Her doctor even said that she may be able to attempt another pregnancy under very close medical supervision.
Deborah has developed several chronic medical conditions linked to her PTSD - a heart arrhythmia, chronic insomnia and ongoing depression. She has recently started seeing a therapist and is learning to acknowledge her emotions and ask for the things that she needs when she needs a little help. She has an intense love for women and is trying to also apply this love to herself. "Today I still struggle to accept how my journey to motherhood has unraveled. I still cry when I see my body in the mirror but slowly I am embracing all the scars, both inside and out that tell my story. "