By TMoM Team Member JamillahNeeairah Nasir (Mama J)
Mother’s Day is traditionally a time of celebration for the love and dedication of mothers, grandmothers, and mother figures. We envision reservations for brunch haphazardly prepared by happy little hands, bouquets of balloons, and tacky little gifts made in art class just days before.
However, for some, Mother’s Day can be a challenging and isolating experience. This is especially true for those who have experienced maternal and infant loss during childbirth. For these families, there is an invisible weight of expectation everyone has for you to move beyond these emotions and carry on. We place an unbearable burden on them to make us feel comfortable by not mentioning their pain. For these people, Mother’s Day can be a very sad and isolated season.
One Mother’s Story is Inspiring Change
Shawnee Benton Gibson is a mother who lost her daughter, Shamony, due to preventable medical negligence. Since then, Shawnee has dedicated her life to raising awareness about the inequities of the healthcare system as it relates to Black mothers and their babies. Black mothers are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white mothers, due to systemic racism and bias within the healthcare system.
Today, Shawnee skillfully humanizes her family’s story, reminding us of how valuable her daughter was as a community member, partner, sibling, friend, and human being. She speaks of how her dreams of watching her child grow into a mother were dashed away due to the very preventable, prevalent, and systemic racism in our society.
Shawnee’s advocacy work and powerful story inspire us to envision a world where maternal and infant loss does not occur, and all birthing mothers are treated with respect and dignity. It’s time for women everywhere to demand better healthcare practices and support policy reforms that encourage equitable care for all mothers and their babies.
As we honor the love and sacrifice of mothers on this special day, let us also recognize and support those who bear the emotional burden of loss and take action to improve maternal and infant health outcomes.