June Is Joy
When we first found out Maya was pregnant in January of 2020, there was no way to predict all that the year would bring. Like most people, we imagined giving birth surrounded by our loved ones, and having their support from the day our child was born onward. Once the chaos of COVID erupted, our plans changed. We could no longer be in public, we had to quarantine away from the people we loved the most, and had to navigate isolated social life during pregnancy, which demands we lean on our people. This was a year that witnessed the largest mass mobilizations for racial justice in the history of the country and a year shrouded by the global chaos of COVID. A year where climate change recorded its worst year yet, and also a year where, for the first time in a generation the sitting US President, after trying to steal the election and ignite a right wing revolt, was swept out of office.
In the midst of this tumult, we endeavoured to consecrate June's arrival. We learned that pregnancy, birth and postpartum care are collective responsibilities, and that no two people can navigate them alone. Our community fed us, our birthing instructor taught us, our families cared for us, our people were (virtually) by our side, and our doula was right there when June arrived.
Pregnancy, birth and postpartum are not as easy as corporate media would like you to believe. In fact, this is by far the most challenging commitment we have ever made. Pregnancy, birth & postpartum force us to confront the physical challenges one endures when their body undergoes a transformation, the psychological challenges of questioning whether you are indeed ready to parent, and the political questions of what kind of child you want to raise, and what kind of values and virtues you want to instill so that your child can be exactly who they will be.
Yet- we were determined. We committed to nightly readings and belly rubs, daily walks and dates, morning prayers and affirmative and decorative mantras across the house. We came to understand pregnancy, birth and postpartum as magnificent metaphors that help give life its meaning. These are three stages of life that all who live have some relationship to, and we endeavored to celebrate at every opportunity the immense joy that we knew awaited us on the other side.
June in many ways was our North Star and, like Polaris, helped guide us through a treacherous and transformative year. The hounds of COVID and racist terror gnashed at our ankles, the swamps of postpartum depression and psychological estrangement threatened to suffocate us, yet we decided to persevere because we knew choosing this audacious responsibility wasn't about fearlessness. Terror is an obstacle for all of us. But by saying yes to confronting the challenges pregnancy, birth & postpartum presented to our relationship, our bodies and our commitments, we got to say yes to facing catastrophic circumstances, knowing that on the other side, tremendous possibilities awaited.
Like the great Africans who absconded from their plantations at the sight of General Tubman arriving on the shores of the Combahee River, we took a chance and dove head first into the messiness of Black parenthood. We knew that no matter what, on the other side was June, our joy. Joy is not simply happiness, it is a way of being that results from making it through overwhelming despair by holding onto tremendous hope. 2020 taught us that joy is sacred.
Happy six months to you, our joy, June Omari!