A MOTHER'S LETTER
Creative Director, Executive Producer: Herrana Addisu / Producer: Sarah Marie / Production Assistant: Mia Aba
Photographer: Steven Hawkins/ Photographer Assistant: Yussef Almalabeh / DP & Second Photographer: Christopher Zapata / Set Designs, Graphic and AD: Nikita Freyermuth / Stylist: Ryan C Gale / MUA, Hair: Quran
Copy Editor: Mona Gaballa
Black women in the United States are likely to experience poor maternal health outcomes, including disproportionately high rates of mortality related to pregnancy or childbirth as a result of societal and racial discrimination in health care systems which contributes to barriers to obtaining quality care. The experienced hardships of black mothers have been heightened following the 2022 Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe vs Wade, which restricts the rights of birthing bodies, disproportionately impacting communities of color.
Let’s rewind back in time, to when you were 23 years old. When you were first faced with this. You weren’t ready— you just knew it in your heart. It wasn’t the right time and you weren’t in the right place. How lucky you were to have the choice. How blessed you were to make the best decision for yourself and your future. To think that now, many just like you, or in less favorable positions, others in traumatic predicaments don’t always have the luxury of choice—and aren’t privileged to the options you once had. They are meant to deal with a decision they aren’t ready to commit to. It shatters my heart for all of those who will have to suffer or potentially lose their life at the hands of people who should never have control over their bodies. Particularly, my thoughts are drawn to my black sisters, who already experience the highest rates of mortality during pregnancy due to the lack of empathy and proper care from doctors and nurses alike.
A Letter to Motherhood
By Sophia Said
I've thought a lot about how I would like to articulate a transparent and raw account of this journey, but where do I begin?
First, I want to start by saying I’m proud of you. I’m proud of how you’ve adjusted and how you’ve handled every curve ball thrown your way. Not only are you battling a physical change, but a huge mental and emotional one as well. This is a ride no one could ever prepare you for because everyone’s path is different. While you haven’t had the worst, it surely hasn't been the easiest transition...
I can’t begin to imagine how differently your life would have turned out if you weren’t granted a choice. If you weren’t able to make the decision you did six years ago, I have no idea who you would be today.
From the outside looking in, it’s easy to assume that pregnancy is the most joyous experience someone can have. That we are biologically wired to reproduce, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. We are not here to just breed. The toll it takes on your body is not openly spoken about. It’s taboo to hate pregnancy— because it’s supposed to be the biggest blessing someone can go through, right; wrong. Though it is a blessing, that doesn’t mean the journey is always beautiful. But, one thing is for certain, this journey has taught you so much about your resilience and strength through the ebbs and flows of not only this pregnancy but throughout your life experiences.
Your journey wasn’t planned, but it was sought out for you. You couldn't have predicted how it would go and you definitely didn't foresee the complications you’d soon undergo. From the moment you found out you had a life growing inside of you, you weren't exactly filled with excitement. Instead, it was fear, angst, and extreme contemplation. In between the varied emotions, were short moments of purpose. It took you time to get familiar with the notion of motherhood. Although you knew you didn't want to make the choice you did six years ago, it still didn't make the process any easier. Once you accepted your fate, you moved through the motions as gracefully as you could. You had to get to know a new you —
A new body and reality. From finding out you have a high-risk pregnancy, to having an emergency surgery, to some scary ER visits; some days came easier than others. There were moments you doubted your decision, questioning if you were on the right path. Then there were days you felt like everything made total sense and you were exactly where you needed to be. No day was better than the other. All of the days were needed, because all of them were reflections of your new reality. Not a single emotion superseded the other, no matter how happy or sad you were. Each emotion was necessary and equally important, simply because they were your truth…
Of the things you could control, you are lucky to have the partner you've chosen, as that within itself could've been an added consideration to this already complicated journey. To my partner, I'm thankful for you, your constant support, and most importantly the love you share for both me and our son. I don't think I could have done this without you. I know this whole experience may not have been the easiest and I understand we were both completely blindsided, but the way you've shown up each and every day has been more than I could ever ask. Watching you grow from being my best friend of 11 years, to my lover, to the father of our child, is a timeline I would have never imagined but wouldn’t change for the world.
To my future son, I can't wait to hold you. I can't wait to see what you will look like, what passions you will take on, what personality type you will develop, if you’ll end up as extroverted as both your father and I or require some time before opening up. No matter what, I will always be by your side. I promise to guide you throughout this lifetime and provide you with any and all the tools you will need to grow. I can't promise I will be perfect. I know I will make mistakes along the way, but so long as you know I'm always trying my best for you, I will be fulfilled. I promise to love you unconditionally through all your phases and allow you to become the person you see fit. Never will I want to change you. Forever shall you feel the love and support I vow to pour into you.
To my future self, don’t lose sight of who you are. Be the best mother you can be, but continue to be the best person you can be. Stay true to you, your desires, and your people. Don’t reshape or reform yourself to align with the stereotypes of what a ‘good’ mother should be. Don’t lose your thirst for adventure and nurture your curiosity, so your son can learn to do the same. Continue to pour your affection and joyous love to all of those around you. Persist to be understanding and accepting of your surroundings, so you don’t harbor resentment and restrain yourself with the need to assert control.
This is to all my current mamas, my pregnant mamas, and to my sisters who see motherhood in their future. The road isn't easy and you may sometimes feel alone. But promise me one thing, allow yourself to feel it all. Don't listen to what others believe is the right thing, as long as it feels right to you, that's all that matters. There is no right or wrong during pregnancy. This is a personal time and it is rightfully yours.