Unbothered's Birth Rights acknowledges inspiring mothers and showcases the beautiful diversity and depth of Black parenthood. As Black birthing people continue to reconsider what motherhood looks like, we are spotlighting Black maternity, reproductive health, and exploring cultural conversations on re-parenting ourselves and the next generation.
I was born and raised in California, and I am an artist and a stay-at-home mom to three boys. I have a teenager — who is actually about to start high school, which is crazy — and then two little ones with my wife, Lindsay. She carried our toddler Lennox and I carried our six-month old baby Maddox.
My wife and I met in Sacramento when she walked into my Bible study. My Bible study group wasn't very diverse at the time. It was just me and a handful of other Black people in there, so when this Black girl came in, I was like, Oh, we're about to be friends, and she don't even know it.
I knew that we were going to spend the rest of our lives together six months into dating. We met in 2010 and realized we wanted to be more than just friends a few months later. We dated, but ended it when she moved away to finish school. We officially got back together in February 2013. I wasn't sure about us being together at first. I had a son, Kameron, from a previous relationship. I believe Kameron was four when Lindsay and I officially got together, and I still hadn't seen the representation of two Black women raising a family, so in the back of my mind it was, I know I love her, I know she's everything to me, but I know my family is against this, society's against this, and I know I don't see this so can I do this?
Six months into dating, we went on our first trip together to Lake Tahoe. On the trip back home, there was a flea market on the side of the road. We saw these sterling silver rings. And we got those rings and said we're going to be together. That was it. No major proposal, no engagement party, no anything like that. We just knew at that moment, having that time away together, that we were going to do whatever we needed to do to be together.
When we got married, since I already had a kid, Lindsay finally came to a point where she wanted to have a baby, so we started that process. We thought that it would happen immediately, but the process of her having Lennox took two years. We were using one donor at the time because for our whole process, for both pregnancies, we did at-home insemination. We actually got pregnant on the first attempt but ended up having a miscarriage. That was a really hard process on her physically and on us mentally and emotionally.
After that miscarriage, things kind of went awry with our first donor, so we took a break. Six months later, we attempted with three different donors over a year span and it was not working. Finally, we went to a fertility specialist and found out that Lindsay has PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). At that point, we realized that we didn't really have the budget to do an IUI or IVF, so we said, We're going to try this one more time. We found a donor, a good friend of mine, who ended up being the donor for both of our sons. He was completely open and available to be present for us whenever we needed, to give us multiple donations. So for both Lennox and Maddox, we inseminated three times within a cycle, and Lindsay got pregnant on the second attempt with that new donor.
We started couples therapy when we got pregnant. When we were going through the trauma of the miscarriage and the failed attempts, we didn't have medical support. We weren't even telling our parents that we were trying yet. It was a lot, and that could really hurt a marriage, but I think we just showed up even more for each other. My mom was the only parent at our wedding. Lindsay’s parents weren’t there. They hadn't yet accepted us, and my dad still hasn't. Her parents are now very active in our lives and are “Noni” and ”Papa” to our babies. My mom has been supportive since I came out to her when me and Lindsay started dating. But I was queer throughout high school, and I feared telling my parents because of how religious they were. I do feel like when I look back like I could have told my mom, but she was married to my dad, so there was a fear in that. They're divorced now, so when I told her, I wasn't having to deal with them as a team; it was just my mom. She's been supportive ever since she knew and could be, and so I'm grateful for that. She walked me down the aisle and she was there for me. I'm just grateful to have that support, that she was one of our major supports throughout it all.
At one point in Lindsay’s pregnancy, she was itchy on her hands and feet and when we told our OB, they said it could be a sign of a possible liver issue with the baby and suggested we go to the E.R. When we got to the E.R., the doctor was so rude, with no bedside manner. Because of Black maternal death rates, I wasn’t comfortable with how this doctor was speaking to us. They said, “I'm going to induce you tonight because of these signs and we need to save the baby.” And I'm just like,”'OK, and what does this do to my wife? ” The doctor just wasn't getting it.
I asked to speak with a different doctor. Another doctor came in and explained to us exactly what was going on, was way more kind in tone, sat down with us, and acknowledged our fear. This doctor said that we had some time to go home and get ready. We came in a few days later and Lindsay was induced.
When Lindsay was in labor, they didn't believe her because she was not screaming at the top of her lungs — another issue with medical professionals not listening to us. We're not heard . Not every woman's the same so why don't they just listen to us? Obviously, we know our own bodies, and if she's saying that she feels a lot of pressure, then check. They walked out the first time, came back, checked, and the baby's head was ready to come out. So then they were rushing to go get the doctor to come back when if they had listened to us the first time, the doctor would have been there .
We're on Medi-Cal for Lindsay’s hospital birth, which says a lot about the type of service you're going to get, and then we’re Black queer women navigating the healthcare system. Both of those things were extremely frustrating. And since I already had a hospital birth with my first son and with what we went through with Lindsay, that was just one of many reasons why I knew I wanted a home birth [this time around.] And most importantly, I was going to find myself an all Black female team.
I would not have been able to have midwifery care if it weren't for three organizations based in Southern California. That's The Victoria Project, The Black Maternal Health Care Fund and The Sugar Heal Gang. It is because of my midwife Angelica Miller — who shared these resources with me — that I was able to apply to the program and get holistic care. With that, I was able to get my midwife fees covered, my doula fees covered, childbirth classes covered, chiropractic care, pelvic floor therapy, acupuncture care, sound therapy, and more. Everything was offered for my mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. They understand the importance for us as Black women to receive that kind of care. In order to navigate the changes we go through to bring life into this world, we need that full, culturally informed and high quality service during pregnancy and during postpartum care that we just don't get in hospitals.
I just really hope for more resources like these to be available to women, to be able to experience the pregnancy, birth and postpartum care that I had because it was night and day from when I had my son at 21. It was night and day from Lindsay's experience with Lennox. If they didn't provide that for me, I could not afford it. I would not have been able to have the amazing pregnancy journey I had without these resources.
I took virtual hypnobirthing classes with Sankofa Mama. I absolutely adore her and that was another thing that was covered by The Victoria Project. It was really because of that hypnobirthing that I was so ready to give birth on my own at home. I had no negative thoughts, no nervous energy. I was just ready for my son to come earthside, and I knew that it was going to be beautiful no matter what. It was quite an amazing experience. And although it happened on all fours in bed and not in the water like I had planned, it was just a reminder that nothing goes as planned. To just be present in the moment and find beauty in that.
In order for other Black birthing people to have the birth that I did, we need to be heard in a real way. It's ridiculous how we're just not listened to, that they just assume that they know better. We saw what Serena Williams had to go through. It can literally happen to anybody. We're just not treated fairly in medicine and it doesn't even matter how much money we have or what socioeconomic status we're in as Black women. It boils down to systemic racism there just needs to be additional resources like the Victoria Project and the Black Maternal Health Care Fund and The Sugar Heal Gang to be able to give us the support that we need because we absolutely do need it. They focus on Black, brown and Indigenous women in low economic communities, and that is where we need it most. That type of support is priceless, and I really believe that we all deserve that.
I don't think being queer changes your views on motherhood. You're a mom either way, but in being queer moms, we instill in our sons that all families are valid, that every family looks different, that all people are valid. I can't say that that was a discussion that we were having when I was with my son's father. Me and my wife are a unit and we just want to really affirm our kids in who they are and who we are because we know that as Black boys and Black men in America, they're going to face things and also they have two moms so they will have to deal with the judgment that comes with that.
I am very grateful that there is more representation for the queer communty. We do have our chosen families of other parents and two-mom families, and so we just make sure to surround our sons with that and to show them that we aren't alone. People might look at you and say, “That's weird, that's not normal.” That's absolutely not true. Our home is filled with love, no matter what anybody has to say. Our children are loved and we are going to support them no matter what.
Free motherhood looks like being able to mother my kids without the judgment of society, without the pressures of this is how it's supposed to be. No, I do not have to whoop my son, when he has a tantrum. That's not the sole way of being a Black mom. So give me my space and my freedom to mother my children without your judgment, without the unsolicited opinions of what I should be doing — how I should dress and how I should talk around my kids. We are very protective of our space, even though we are very transparent about our lives online, it is just about what we allow to come in. I want other Black queer women to see that this is an option; that you can marry who you love and have the family you desire. We're thriving, breaking generational curses, and gentle parenting. We are doing everything that we can to raise empathetic and considerate human beings in this world that know they have our unconditional love and support. That is me and my wife's biggest goal.
I was not supported growing up. My dad had all these dreams for me, and of course, I have dreams for my sons. But my dreams are my dreams. They're not their dreams, and whatever their dreams become, I will support them 100 percent no matter what. That is what I want my babies to know.
As told to Stephanie Long. This interview has been condensed from its original transcription.