Rest in Peace Shawnee Nicole Mitchell-Wright

December 17th, 2010

It is with a very heavy heart that I write this blog post. I just received notice that a mama died in childbirth. Shawnee Nicole Mitchell-Wright was a young mother with a 2 year old daughter at home. She and her husband were eagerly awaiting the birth of their second child. On Friday December 10, 2010, she gave birth to a healthy baby but lost her life in the process.

This story is devastating on so many levels. First, there is a mama that will never see her baby, hold her baby, never nurse and nurture her baby, and will never see her baby grow and become the awesome person that God created this little life to be.

There is a baby that will never know its mama; will never feel the love, comfort and touch that only mama can give.

There is a 2 year old little girl who will never see her mama again. She will ask over and over again, “Where’s mommy? When’s Mommy coming home?”  And she will have to somehow come to understand that mommy isn’t ever coming home. She’ll go through so many moments in life without her mama, pivotal moments of growing up and changing into a young woman; getting her period, first crushes, first dates, going to college, career and marriage choices-all these events and more without the example and support of her mom. I’m just in tears thinking about this.

And then there is Ralph, Nicole’s husband. This poor dear man may have witnessed both extreme joy and unimaginable sorrow in a matter of moments. Being present to witness the birth of his child, he may have very likely watched as his wife slipped away simultaneously. All the love that they shared, all the plans that they had made for their family, all the hopes, all the dreams….gone in a matter of moments.

All two weeks before Christmas.

I don’t know the circumstances surrounding Shawnee’s death. I don’t know if she experienced complications during her pregnancy. I do know that she was a neonatal intensive care nurse at John’s Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore Maryland. I know that she was an African American Mama, and a member of my national moms group, Mocha Moms. And now, she is a statistic.

In April, researchers from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle published data showing that the US maternal mortality rate had risen from 12-17/100,000 live births annually in the United States. Alarmingly Amnesty International in their report Deadly Delivery notes that the maternal mortality rate for African American women in the United States is  32.7 deaths per 100,000 pregnancies while it is only 9.5/100,000 for Caucasian women. They are calling on the Obama Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services in particular, to establish an Office of Maternal Health to address these health care disparities. I hope to see this established soon, but with the incoming congress I am not as optimistic it will happen sooner rather than later. But happen it must. The US must address the rising maternal and infant mortality rates in this country.

Still, none of this means anything to the Mitchell-Wright family. Their mama is still gone and Christmas time will be forever marred by her loss. Pray for this family. Pray especially those children who will grow up without their mama. We wish them all peace in this most difficult holiday season.

If you feel so lead to make a donation in Shawnee Nicole Mitchell-Wright’s memory, the family has asked that donations be made to one of the 2 neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) where Shawnee worked. Donations can be mailed to:

John’s Hopkins Bayview Development Center
1627 A Thames Street
Baltimore MD 21231

Donations can also be  submitted online at

(be sure to fill out tribute information at the bottom and to check the box that says “mail a letter on my behalf”).

One response to “Rest in Peace Shawnee Nicole Mitchell-Wright”

  1. Bibi says:

    I feel for the family and, as a fellow church member, will help out anyway I can!

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