It’s Black Maternal Health Week so, we of course, are amplifying stories of Black women when it comes to childbirth. But Black women aren’t the only ones impacted by traumatic birthing experiences.
Devale and Khadeen Ellis are parents to four children and have gone through delivery multiple times now. Devale recently did an In The Comments With ESSENCE segment, and touched on a health scare his wife had during labor with their firstborn son Jackson that changed the way he approached his role during Khadeen’s subsequent pregnancies. He is now a proud daddy doula.
“I dedicated my life to being involved in my wife’s pregnancies after we almost lost Kay during childbirth with Jackson,” Ellis said.
This is unfortunate and all too common considering Black women in the United States are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Because of this scary experience, Devale made it his mission to engage with his children while they’re baking in their mamas womb to cement a bond, and to be as helpful to her as possible every step of the way.
“I made it a purpose to be involved in everything, and doing research, I’ve learned that as you talk to your children while in utero–and the entire time from conception I’ve been talking to that stomach—they get to learn your voice,” the actor said.
He continues, “I also made it a point to try to make Kay laugh as much as possible while pregnant because I know that’s a rough 10 months, so I just wanted her to smile and laugh. So I spent a lot of time joking, picking that phone up and recording it, so he came out just knowing what I sound like and I’m proud to say, all of my boys after Jackson, we went through the same thing.”
He adds, “Shout out to Jackson for making me a better father and Khadeen for making me a better husband.”
The couple have been together for over 20 years and share four boys together in Jackson, Kairo, Kaz, and Dakota, who is the baby of the bunch. They are popular personalities online and shared their love story on the second season of OWN’s Black Love back in 2018. They have been building their empire since, with Ellis now a star on Tyler Perry’s BET hit, Sistas.
It’s encouraging to hear stories about the ways people have overcome childbirth complications and used those experiences to advocate for themselves, their partners and their children in different ways. Kudos to Devale for stepping up and showing up for his family.
Check out the full In the Comments conversation below!