From the AnthologyBlack Women Coping in Cleveland
by Nailah Muhmmad
Things did not exactly go according to plan, but, thankfully, you are still here.
28 weeks ago, my heart sang the songs of our ancestors filling my soul with such happiness sprinkled with just a little fear.
Finally, my wildest dreams were manifested, after years of trying to bring you into existence invested, I now face my faith being tested as you fight to simply survive.
Never would I have ever thought in a million years, that I would be sitting here praying that you would stay alive.
I find myself in my mind, questioning time after time was there anything that I did not do right.
Feeling like I had done my best, wishing this was not my test, praying at the end of this long road we will one day see a light.
Month after month, I was told by the doctors that everything was just fine.
Even after asking them about the pains in my stomach and the pains in my side, I was so quickly brushed off, telling me that it was all just in my mind.
As if somehow I am not intelligent enough to know that I am in pain when I feel it.
You know being ignored in your most vulnerable state -- is perhaps one of the worse types of predicaments.
I think sometimes I just want to be heard, and I just want to be seen.
I wish I could speak up for myself without being called an “angry black woman” or being called mean.
And at work I have to work twice as hard just to have any type of importance or value.
I feel like I have worked myself into a hole I can’t get out of.
And now I feel like my whole life has been turned upside down.
For years I feel like I have been screaming out for someone to hear me or see me, but it is as if no one hears a sound.
I do love my city, I have spent my entire life here.
But I am starting to feel less and less like I belong with each passing year.
I’ve heard that the city of Cleveland is one of the most depressed.
Maybe so much so that my body has released my baby early, consumed and overcome by the stress.
And from what I see in the NICU I am not the only one.
All of us here just praying that our babies make it too, and then well past the age of one.
I just want to finish decorating your nursery with no fear.
I want to take you home, hold you, and nurse you there, I don’t want to leave you here.
You, my child, are the greatest gift a mother could receive.
And I know you will be just fine, I just have to continue to have faith and believe.
For we didn’t come this far to not see a better day.
And with every beat of your heart, we are so much closer to that day.
I will never underestimate you or let my faith wane.
For you have the blood of our mighty ancestors coursing through your veins.
So, keep fighting my angel, I will be right here.
Right by your side, you don’t have to fear.
Here very soon, I will take you home with me.
Spending so many days together.
Surrounded by the love from your ancestors, your family, your daddy, and me.
Nailah Muhammad is a daughter, mother sister and friend. She is a poet, published writer, and playwright. She is currently a community liaison and advocate for African American pregnant women. Working with them one on one allows her to truly understand the injustices placed upon them. She desires to use the pen and her voice to continue to raise awareness and advocate for change.