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A Mother’s Love: New Motherhood In The Times Of COVID, One Year Later

Becoming a mother in 2020 took on a whole new meaning.

Motherhood

Becoming a mother in 2020 took on a whole new meaning to so many women of the world. With global chaos ensuing, incompetency leading the way, and drastic changes taking place in hospitals, giving birth during this time meant...well, we aren't sure. Many women took the challenge head-on, accepting that their new normal, no matter how different from the stories they've always heard, were just that: their new normal.

From baby showers that were masked and mobile, to having a q-tip shoved up your nose multiple times a month, adjusting took its damn time. And a year later, we're all still adjusting.

These babies are now turning one-year-old, one year of surviving it all. We found four women who shared their journey about how exactly the adjustment is going.

Here are the beautiful stories that we heard:

Audrey: Dallas, TX | @southernsophis

Southernsophis/Instagram

I actually gave birth to my daughter back in August (2020), and this entire time I've just been kind of basking in the whole moment of motherhood and pregnancy. I'm sure you can imagine this was a huge eye-opening shift in my life, and in my family's life, because this was not what we expected whatsoever.

During my first trimester, it would suck to have to go to my doctor check-ups without any support. Like, they couldn't even wait in the waiting room. And because Dallas was considered a 'hotspot' for COVID, our rules were strict. From the constant questioning to temp checks, it was all a mess. Many first-time mommy classes had gone virtual. I wanted to have a water birth, but I couldn't. I even had to wear a mask during labor. The changes were nonstop.

I ended up having a C-section because after being in labor for 24 hours, with no medication, I couldn't take the pain anymore. It was go time.

Afterwards, I allowed my body to heal. I didn't rush it. My main goal was to safely recover. And even through all the pain and worry, my baby made it home with me, happily and healthy.

Being pregnant during a global pandemic and a racial injustice war has brought on many emotional highs and lows. If you had told me a few years back that this is what I'd experience during my first pregnancy, I probably would've laughed in your face.

But one thing I will say, despite the chaos, I've been able to truly pause, self-reflect, acknowledge my fears, doubts, and worries as well as tap into a different level of strength I didn't know existed, so I'm grateful for that opportunity.

Ianthia: The Bahamas | @iamianthia

Ianthia/Instagram

I never imagined that I'd give birth during a global pandemic or that my husband wouldn't be by my side as our child entered the world. But thanks to the COVID-19, nothing I had planned for my birth experience happened. From having to cancel our baby shower, not being able to shop for and set up our nursery, to my husband being kicked out of the delivery room at the last minute COVID-19, really stole many of our joys.

My moods would go from super happy, to just heartbreaking as the virus took over the world. Quarantine forced us to social distance from our friends and family and had us on government mandated curfews and lockdowns. But after a lonely, hard experience...there were tears of joy!

I'm so blessed to have the shoulders of so many amazing women to stand on as I navigate motherhood; so much strength, so much resilience, so much love I've witnessed and received and I'm now equipped to give my little one.

I'm learning early on that support from everyone around you is crucial, from friends to family, and even those who end up becoming family. Every time I think about what I'm going to tell her of this time, her birth and the uncertainty that consumed the world, I'll show her the picture I have of her meeting her grandfather for the first time.

I'll tell her, "This is you at two days old meeting your grandfather for the first time...through a closed window. A deadly virus had already killed thousands of people around the world and several right here at home. We were warned to take extreme measures to keep you and everyone else safe.

"Those first few weeks were hard too; physically because you had a sleep schedule all your own, emotionally because we had to do it all without family and mentally because no one knew when it all would end. Still, you were loved unconditionally, through video chats, phone calls and...windows."

And now, with seeing us triumph, and how blessed my family is, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Atavia: @ataviaskai

Atavia Skai/Instagram

After a completely healthy pregnancy, my husband and I lost our baby girl, Junie at 41 weeks on May 19, 2020. And the pregnancy and birth took place during the COVID pandemic. As I am navigating this loss, I have found some comfort in others sharing their stories to help me in my journey, which is the purpose of me speaking out. I felt alone and I want to share for anyone who may feel how I once did.

Everything leading up to it, was completely normal. We had never heard the word "perfect" so many times in our lives. At that point, I was having appointments weekly, ultrasounds, stress tests. I woke up one day, my routine was completely normal. I was doing my daily talks with her, my affirmations.

On the way to my appointment, things changed. I hadn't felt her move in a while. My ultrasound tech started the process of checking the baby at my appointment, and she had a blank look on her face. She wasn't blinking. My intuition was off the charts.

And then, my doctor looked at me and said, "I am so sorry to tell you this, but your baby doesn't have a heartbeat."

And I said... "OK."

You know, it's funny how the brain works. My mind was racing, but I couldn't articulate anything. I was having an out-of-body experience. And that's all I could say. "OK."

I was numb to everything happening around me. I was broken.

I went to the next hospital to deliver my baby girl, and had to take a Coronavirus test, which came back positive. I was moved to another side of the hospital, swept away from my family, quarantined by myself. And on top of it all, I had to somehow process how my baby was no longer with me. It took a while for me to process it all. I still am, actually. But ultimately, I learned I am not alone.

Educating myself, and learning the statistics of stillborn births aided me in coping. Additionally, I had to learn that it wasn't my fault. My midwives and nurses would assure me all the time that we did everything right, everything we possibly could have done.

But listen ladies: my story is traumatic. And unfortunately, so many women experience the same as I have. But my pregnancy was also a beautiful experience. I would not rewrite or delete this chapter of my life at all. The grieving has been exceptionally hard.

And without my support and the amount I had, I don't know how I would navigate this, honestly. Family, my husband, friends. I have two amazing therapists that have helped me. In the end, working with them, and telling my story, has given me peace. I hope it does for any mama out there reading this, and that has experienced the same as I have, as well.

Alanna: Atlanta | @alannafoxx

Alanna Foxx/Instagram

Giving birth during COVID-19 is just a little different, so my heart goes out to those of you who were not able to have anyone in the delivery room with you. I was blessed enough to have my husband right there by my side in the delivery room, but my baby boy did come a little earlier than expected. I actually had a scheduled C-section. But my little boy decided that he wanted to come a few days before the scheduled C-section.

Something that was very important to me was that my doctor looked like me, due to the statistics that we hear nowadays definitely can make being a woman of color [who is] expecting pretty nervous.

With me moving to a new area, and with the pandemic, I wanted to make sure I felt 100 percent comfortable with whoever was delivering my baby. I trusted her 100 percent.

Around this time, my husband and I had a very deep conversation about what the world is going through. There are a lot of people that were really sick and thousands that lost their lives. People are out of work, resources in some communities are limited. Children that once looked to college or school as an escape from toxic homes don't have that anymore.

Domestic abuse and child abuse is at an all-time high...and to top it all off, I gave birth and lost one of the most important people in my life. He lost his battle with COVID. The only dad and father that I've ever known. Literally my everything. My support system, my superhero, my advocate, anything that I ever needed, he was there for me.

But now, walking into 2021, I've achieved a newfound wisdom and grace over our family. Perspective is everything right now and even if you don't have much to give, just compassion and prayer is sufficient.

Featured image by Ianthia Ferguson/Instagram

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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