Promises for You

La Curacíon (The Healing)

To my angels,

I carried you inside me for seven months, for two hundred and twelve days, for five thousand and eighty-eight hours. I felt you two grow as my body nourished you. I felt your feet dancing in my womb to the songs I’d sing. I loved you both more with each passing day. Your daddy may not have wanted you or cared for you in the same ways as me, but I know deep down he loved the idea of you, too. 

It pained me to know I couldn’t bring you into this light. I prayed for you, for myself, for the answers to why this must be. I didn’t have all the monetary things to give you, but my heart had all that you would ever need. When your kicks became taps and your taps became none, I knew that our time was up. That I wouldn’t get the chance to hold you in my arms when you cry, to watch you crawl and take your first steps, to hear you call me mama or to tell me that you love me. 

I remember that summer day like it was yesterday. Cold filled the hospital room and goosebumps raised from my skin. The nurse whispered in my ear, “It will be alright. Us Black women are strong.” I remember the emptiness and loneliness inside me. I couldn’t understand why what felt like my sole purpose as a woman could not be fulfilled. I believed I was defeated, cheated, broken, and damaged. 

I remember your smell, the softness of your skin, your tiny toes and hands. I counted each toe over and over, singing the This Little Pig nursery rhyme. I couldn’t bear the pain of holding you in my hands, to not feel your hearts beating against mine. At the time, I blamed myself for what happened. I didn’t understand why my concerns with the doctor were never met. I felt like maybe I didn’t fight hard enough. I didn’t understand the complexities of my body or both of your needs. I didn’t understand why my pains were not justified and why the color of my skin immediately wrote me off from receiving proper treatment. Maybe if I knew what I did now you two would still be here. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I couldn’t be the mother you needed me to be to survive. I’m sorry I couldn’t say goodbye. 

I hope you both are somewhere looking down on me and your little sister now. She’s perfect, in all the ways I knew both of you would be. I didn’t know that there could be light after such darkness, but I realized that the time we did spend together, even in my womb, was enough. You both were more than enough. Sometimes I look at her and wonder if you both would’ve had her smile, her joy, her infectious laughter. One day I will tell your sister about you both. She will know that you were loved and beautiful and pure just like her. One day we will all be that family that I dreamed of, even if it’s in heaven. You both taught me the meaning of motherhood, the meaning of being a woman, the meaning of love. You taught me how to be strong, how to fight, and how not to give up on myself. You both impacted my life in ways that I can’t even bring to words right now, but I love you dearly today, tomorrow, and always. 

 

Sincerely,

Mama

To the women who have children, to the ones who’ve lost children, to the ones who are trying to conceive… even through your darkest times and the sharpest pains, there is healing, light and strength. Find a community or a sisterhood. Hold onto your loved ones tight. Forgive yourself because “even when you’re in doubt, in fear, or just in your feelings — you can and will rise up” (Alexandra Elle). 


Our lives are not taboo. What we experience is never “too much information.” We deserve to give space to the fullness of our emotions. In our monthly column, Promises for You, BIPOC writers discuss their experiences with infertility, miscarriage, and child loss. Here, we share heartache and grief that seems like an unforgiving weight around our feet; the disappointment in ourselves and the identity questions we wrestle with, the disrespect from family and friends, the hope we learn to cling to, the lives we begin to savor again, and more. Read these stories with an open mind, knowing that we are sharing narratives of loss that are often forgotten, or erased, in popular media.

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by

Francena Ottley is a Dominican-American New York based Photographer, Installation Artist and Mother to her 10 month old daughter Luna. Her work consists of using different mediums to create narrative pieces that focus on empowering people of color and using her art as a tool for visual activism. Her goal is to always make work that speaks to people, empowers people, and shares knowledge while always remaining authentic.