We faced the awful infertility bug. So I couldn’t even fathom saying I want my child to look one way or the other. The fact is, I didn’t care. Even if I didn’t have trouble conceiving, I wouldn’t have cared. I just wanted a child. However in the midst of not being able to have a baby, one REALLY doesn’t care. When you can’t conceive, you’d pray for a polka dotted baby with a green tail if you knew that was the only way you could pop up pregnant. Heck, throw in some horns while you’re at it. I would love that funny looking baby more than anything.
I love the fact that my girls are so much alike, yet different in phenotype.I look at my little one and see the same facial structure as my oldest. When I am being glared at, I can definately tell they are sisters. They represent who my husband and I are. They represent us, and our lineage. They are our children of course, but they are in way our ancestor’s children. I look at them and see 100, 200, even 300 years back and further. I have always wondered who I was, and what my specific lineage is. I am a black female. However, I cannot say that I am 100% African. Most African American’s can’t. We’re more like watered down Africans . I heard that term once, and thought how fitting as I chuckled to myself. Throughout my life, people have assumed I have one black parent and one white parent. No, I would tell them, as I looked at my biracial friend and how I was so much lighter than she. I was in-between both worlds but not, if that makes any sense. I wasn’t sure where I was supposed to land. It wasn’t until later in life that I realized I was right where I was supposed to be and landed just fine. I had let outside influences dictate what I thought I was supposed to look like. It was as though I was a mistake. Something I detangled as time went on.
After three years of fertility treatment that didn’t work, I finally was able to get pregnant with use of fertility herbs after only two months of being on them. Miranda Leone was born on 6-8-05 at a healthy 8lb 3oz after 25 hours of intense labor. I loved her head of curly black hair, olive skin, and big dark eyes. She looked like her father, yet she looked like me. Growing up with very fair skin, hair and eyes, I was always told I wasn’t black enough by my peers. So I smiled to myself, and said; “So this is me with black hair and dark eyes.” I’m not sure how some people will take this but she was my “black foot forward” is what I called it. There was a time when I felt I was too watered down, and wished God had let up on his watering where I was concerned.
My parent’s kids got lighter as they had us. Four total, with me being the 4th. When I was about 3, I asked my father why I looked the way I did. He knew immediately what I was referring to. I’m sure he was more aware of it than I was since the day I was born. He smiled, and told me to go stand in the sun and I’ll look like the rest of my brown skinned, dark haired family. I don’t think he knew how serious I was, but my 3 year old self took his words to be gospel. He was after all – daddy. I went and stood in the Texas sun with my arms, and legs stretched out to make a perfect little “X”. I was “gettin’ my dark on.” After what seemed like an eternity (but was probably about 30 seconds) I ran inside to look at the new me! What I saw looking back at me was my blond nappy hair, red flushed pale skin and hazel eyes.
Somehow I think I thought my eyes would darken as well. I turned around and slowly sat on my little green step stool with my face in my hands wondering what my next move would be to fix this color visage faux pas. It was a pitiful sight. One that would carry on until I got older and put simply, was able to process that I was ok.
I pretty much ate that up, and questioned it constantly. He knew I wasn’t adopted. He was just being the taunting older brother because he found out my achilles heel and went with it. That’s what they do and that’s what our situation was. My two older sisters never said a word to me about it. Just him. If I wasn’t asking about it, I was thinking about it. My parents assured me that I wasn’t adopted. Scattered throughout my extended family were other’s that looked like me. Not growing up around them, they weren’t there to fully validate me however.
It wasn’t until I was about 13 or 14 years old that I saw a picture of a white woman from the 1800’s civil war era. Her name was Sylvia Hale. She was my dad as a white woman. It struck me as odd to see him that way. We were no doubt kin. Sylvia’s father was a Confederate soldier in the Carolina’s. She was brave enough to have a union with a slave by the name of Tom Williams. They had about 8 children. Perhaps at some point in time he was chased into the woods, and heard the faint echo of dogs barking. Like most African American history from that time, I don’t know the specific details but surprisingly he lived. Much to my glee, they all did. However, rumor has it that she was actually a mulatto that could pass. In her world everyone would have known she was bi-racial, if that was so the case. I can’t imagine that they would have let them live together in peace if she didn’t have at least 1 drop in there. There is nothing that documents this however. The photo clearly shows a white woman, but the circumstances leaves one to wonder.
We decided to get pregnant again. After a year of trying with no success, I decided to pull out my tried and true method. After a month of being in the fertility herbs, I got my positive pregnancy test. We were beyond thrilled. When I was 21 weeks along, I went in for a routine ultra sound. It was this day we were going to find out the sex. In my wildest dreams I could not have imagined that I would be told that I was 1 cm dilated. “Are you f****** kidding me!” It took everything in me not to say that, as the tears rolled down my face. ”You’re having a girl” was marred by the realization that she may not live. A wave of fear that shook me to my core swept over me. Why was my body failing me? I had a healthy baby in my tummy, but I may not be able to carry her to term? Serioulsy?! The unfairness of that was mind numbing. I was angry with God, I was angry at myself, I was angry at the nurse, I was angry that the wind was maybe blowing east, I was angry the nurse had pink glitter nail polish! I couldn’t process what I was being told and just needed to be angry. I had an emergency cerclage put in, and was put on strict bed rest. I can praise God, and say that the next 5 months were uneventful as far as the pregnancy was concerned. I can’t say that about my sanity however. Bed rest will do a number on you, and send you to crazyville in about zero point two seconds. My poor husband.
Our second daughter, Emerson Annalise, was born on 1-12-09 at 8 lbs 1 oz. Seven days before her due date. I was in labor for 6 hours. This time the epidural worked really well. Though when she came out she wasn’t breathing, so I didn’t get to see her right away. At last I heard her. A sweet lullaby of a sound. When they brought her to me, I thought she looked like a little lady. There was a blanket of calmness over her that Ms. Miranda didn’t have. I attribute that to the fact that with Miranda I was screaming like a banshee, and she was probably terrified. With Emerson I told myself no screaming this time.
I noticed her light brown hair. I didn’t think much of it since my hair was that color as a child. Over time it had darkened, as did my skin with the sun. My three year old self is someplace cheering. At any rate, what struck me were the sky blue eyes. Mine were actually blue for a few days, but they changed after about two weeks to a light brown hazel. I assumed Emerson’s would as well. After two month they got bluer, her hair got lighter, and her color never came in. Since her features hadn’t fully come in she looked by all accounts like a white baby. I would watch people in stores as they stared at my 6’7” brown skinned husband holding our daughter. White males in particular seemed to take issue with it. I would make it known with a stare down glare that I took issue with them, and their ignorance. All they saw was a black man with what they thought was his child by a white woman. In their eyes, she was most likely a white woman with blond hair and blue eyes. I think about the bi-racial couples, and feel this is what they must go through sadly.
My husband took Emerson to work with him one day on his day off to pick up something. His co-worker angrily asked him what he was doing with that white baby. The way my husband told it, it was as though this man thought he was protecting this child and needed to step in. It’s not as though this moron didn’t see pictures of our new bundle of joy. My husband made sure everyone in the office knew of this wonderful event. Maybe it was seeing them in person. Together! ”OMG, black man/white baby?!!” He just couldn’t deal obvioiusly. My husband had few choice words for this individual, and made him feel like a minion when he was done with him. I was stunned, perplexed, sad, and just plain pissed off. It’s like this man was saying;”Well, I know your wife is black. Where is the white person that’s supposed to be monitoring this situation!” I guess he thought he was that designanted white person.
A male co-worker of mine actually asked me what I was doing the night she was conceived. Yes . . he did. It was in such a condescending, and degrading tone. How else can you ask that question in this context. I was shocked. He left before I even got a chance to respond. I stat there staring at whatever was in font of me. I can’t even remember. Once I gathered myself, all I wanted to do was find this fool, lose my job and maybe even go to jail because I wanted to beat this little idiot within an inch of his life. He wasn’t that big. I could have taken him. An email educating the little man would suffice. I soon realized that I would be doing a lot of educating, and this was just the start of it. I basically asked him if he thought my husband and I were all black and that it was very ignorant of him to think that it wasn’t possible for this to occur. I even sent him a chart of how two brown eyed people can end up with a blue eyed baby. It was like a 6 or 7 percent chance. It must be on both sides since it’s a recessive gene. His reply was “Thank you”. Thank you?! What the blazing f*** did that mean? What I wanted to hear was “I’m sorry”. Of course I didn’t get it. Ignorance is that blissful thing I suppose. From that point on, he ceased to exist to me. Luckily we didn’t work directly together, and he eventually got transferred to a new department. I suppose he was hung up on the fact that a black child came out with blue eyes/blond hair, and both parents were black and neither had blue eyes.
I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t match their thought process on what they think a black person should look like. It messes with their psyche, and they can’t handle it. It’s like their brain cells start twitching and saying; “does not compute, does not compute . . .” before their heads blow up. This mama bear went through too much to get my girls here. I can smell the ignorance in the air a mile away. I need to hone that energy, and not give a damn. But seriously, part of me wants to rip their heads off like some bad “B” movie scene. Hey I’m human.
With the birth of my second daughter the question of what it means to be mixed makes me go further down that rabbit hole, and wonder. What does it mean to be mixed? Society pigeon holes it to mean a parent from two different races. In our case my husband and I are both black with myself looking bi-racial but obviously black. People don’t understand how our children can look so different from one another. “That must not be his child” is what some say. “The oldest one yes, but not the little one.” My youngest at times looks more mixed than some mulatto’s I come across. Should we broaden the term? I consider myself a multi-generational mulatto. A term I came across in one of my quests to “find myself”. “One’s ancestry must have both become and remained racially mixed throughout all of their family generations starting with the very first occurrence of admixture up unto their present generation. “ Via mulatto.org (1). I am not saying this is the steadfast definition (is there one?) but what this person wrote hit a chord with me that made me linger. Other terms that caught my eye were FGM and SGM:
FGM – First Generation Mulatto, An individual who has one
black or Black-identified parent and one white or White-identified
SGM – Second Generation Mulatto, An individual who has two
FGM mulatto or Mulatto-identified parents. In other words, this person, like the
FGM, has two White grandparents and two Black grandparents, but they have one of
each on both sides.
MGM – Multi Generation Mulatto/Mixed, Someone
who has black and white ancestry through both parents. (2)
Genes don’t know how they are supposed to land, or what they are supposed to pull up or not pull up. Society expects a black and white answer. If you have a black/white bi-racial looking child they expect to see one Caucasian looking parent. That isn’t always the case.
Neither my husband nor I, were socialized with white family members. All the “mixing” that was done in slavery times doesn’t just go away. That’s the beginning of the watering. Some crossed over the color line completely, and some of those genes hovered in between. It comes out generations later. I would like for people to open their minds on what a black family can look like, and stop staring at us like we are ghouls or one is cattin’ around. We can be anything. We can be all dark, all light and everything in between.
Our children are OUR children.