“This group has never been for us… it’s been for our grief…not for us.”
Privilege is a hot topic nowadays. Most of us have some sort of privilege even if we don’t want to recognize it. There’s racial or ethnic privilege, educational privilege, skin tone privilege, hair texture privilege, financial privilege, age privilege, physical ability privilege, etc. The point is, there are lots of ways for a person to have some blind spots because of things they don’t usually have to think about. I am an able bodied person so I don’t automatically think about whether there is wheelchair access to a place or an elevator if need be. It’s my privilege that allows me to forget about those things but it’s the recognition of that privilege that also can make me hyper mindful and an advocate for increasing accessibility.
I’ve mentioned before that having a child is a privilege. It’s not something everyone can do even if they want to and it’s harder to achieve for some people than others. Being pregnant is a privilege too for similar reasons. Though it can appear easy for some, there are others who have never had a positive pregnancy test in their life no matter what they try. So if we recognize that privilege shows up in many forms, we can see how we may end up in a privileged category without realizing how we got there. I may have come from a very poor family but maybe I got a scholarship and attended an excellent school. I lack one kind of privilege growing up but have educational privilege now. Among white people, I may just be considered the black girl but among other black people, I may be considered privileged because I may have light-skinned privilege or long-hair privilege. I may have lost a baby before, making me an angel mom but now, I’m pregnant again and I show up to a pregnancy loss group talking about my currently healthy baby/pregnancy. Pregnancy privilege.
So yeah, that just happened to me. Attending a perinatal loss group, specifically a group for people who lost babies in utero or very shortly after birth, a woman showed up visibly pregnant and opted to start off the group with her concerns about her rainbow pregnancy. Like… wtf?! There was no warning to the group, there was no processing with the group by the facilitator, there was no moderation of the woman’s comments to help maintain safety of the entire group. The audacity of this woman to come to this kind of group and use her pregnant (and white) privilege to decide to start us off with her fears during this pregnancy. I felt completely blind-sided and insulted and not at all taken care of by the facilitator. Grief groups, particularly these kinds of grief groups are supposed to be the one safe place people with recent (or old) loss can go to not be faced with bellies & babies. We’re usually inundated with those two things everywhere we go and every venture outside is like a test to see how fast your avoidance reflexes are. Pregnant lady to your right, swerve left. Infant straight ahead, evasive maneuvers. We’re having a baby shower for so-and-so, delete email. It requires a lot of effort sometimes until being exposed to bellies & babies feels a little less raw. So when I say, “the audacity” I really mean, “the AUDACITY!!!”
I’m going to tell you another reason I was so… bothered. “Tell ‘em why you mad son!” I felt very much like the plight of this pregnant white lady was given privilege over the needs of the entire group. I felt like her white privilege allowed her to think it was cool to show up to a group like this one without warning any-fu*king-body (at least give me a trigger warning, damn!), then told her it was cool to start off the conversation in group w/o letting the facilitator lead. Then privilege said, “hey, go ahead and talk about being pregnant RIGHT NOW and that your baby is fine.” Then privilege said, “make sure you tell people you had a loss too so they don’t trip about the belly.” Then privilege triggered other privilege in the room to cosign on some “you don’t know her story” ish. FOH with that. My able-bodied self got up and left before all the cosigning happened, which was probably a blessing.
Let me be clear. I understand that people pregnant with rainbow babies can have a ton of fear and anxiety around their current pregnancy. I think that is valid and that experience needs support. Shoot, just talking about & preparing to try again has me all in my feelings. I say all that to drive home that I am not anti-support of rainbow pregnancies nor am I saying she didn’t deserve to be in the group. What I am saying is that being pregnant with the next child and having that pregnancy be going well is the dream of most angel moms. We’re not all able to see that dream come to fruition nor are we all able to get there without a lot of challenges. The argument that you don’t know someone’s story is valid and goes both ways. In this journey of healing, I have encountered many different angel mom’s. Some of which had significant health challenges after giving birth making it impossible for them to ever carry a baby again. Any of those women could have been part of the group. How triggering could that experience have been for them?! Most of us angel mom’s go through a period of intense jealousy & envy for a variety of reasons the largest of which is witnessing others have what was taken from us.
It’s possible I’m hyper sensitive about what happened because of the way I started this post. There’s often a feeling for black & brown people that whatever we’re attending that is pre-established, isn’t for us. My partner said, “this group has never been for us. It’s for our grief… not for us.” The realness in this statement tho! *insert hands clapping after every syllable* One of the reasons I started blackangelmom.com was to increase our (black & brown folx) presence in the conversations about perinatal loss. I didn’t see a lot of us at the table and literally in the support group we attend, we are the only ones. Add to that, we’re the only queer couple period. White privilege and hetero-privilege abounds and my partner and I have to work to insert “or the other parent” and the experience of the other parent into conversations that often start with, “dads…” So feeling “other” has always been present in this space and feeling blindsided by white-pregnant-privilege really took me over the edge. I don’t know if anyone else has had this kind of experience before but I encourage us all to think about the ways our privilege shows up in a space AND how we choose to use it. It’s important.