Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related causes than white women. According to the CDC, most of these pregnancy-related deaths are actually preventable. These devastating statistics are hard to comprehend on their own, but when you factor in a worldwide health crisis and racial uproar, the stress is unimaginable.
Cloe Luv is known as an entrepreneur, manager, and founder, but perhaps her most important title of all is mother. With the due date for her second son quickly approaching, this joyous occasion has also been met with stress and concern over not only giving birth during a worldwide pandemic, but caring for herself as a Black woman in a delivery room, and raising Black men in a country where their lives are treated as inconsequentially as those in fictional video games.
I spoke to Cloe about the challenges of weighing all of these realities as she readies herself to give birth.
“Ultimately it’s been a very lonely, very depressing journey. It’s hard enough just to bring these kids here, this just made it 10x harder,” Luv says. A woman I personally know as virtually undefeatable has hints of pure exhaustion in her voice, a tone I barely recognize coming from her.
You are already a mother to one son, King and step-daughter Kamiya but this pregnancy is different for so many reasons. How has COVID 19 affected your pregnancy?
It is a depressing situation because we aren’t allowed to have the support that we need. When I go to the doctor for my checkups, it’s just me and a bunch of other pregnant women in masks. We can’t have our husbands, child’s father, or mother or any of the support we normally would. So we are really going through this process alone. Granted, my husband waits for me in the car outside. He can’t watch the sonogram or ask the questions he wants, it’s lonely. On top of that, there’s a heightened level of fear because statistics show Black women dying during childbirth happens at an exponential rate higher compared to everyone else, to begin with. Nevermind the fact that Black people are dying at a higher rate of COVID so the combination of all that makes for an extremely gloomy experience when you’re already going through so much physically.
Though excited to meet her new bundle of joy, Cloe is also met with feelings of fear as a Black woman in the delivery room.
The odds of me dying during childbirth are 3x higher. People think we have a higher threshold for pain so when we explain our aches and pains they go unaddressed and dismissed and the result is we aren’t receiving the care we need. As I go into labor, my excitement is equally met with anxiety and fear of if I will make it, if he will make it, and if we will both survive a process that should be so naturally angelic. Once he’s here I will look at him with joy and hope while remembering that the rest of the world will look at him as a source of fear and hate. At the end of the day, I still have to push forward despite these devastating thoughts and facts.
2020 has been a trying year for everyone, but for you as a Black woman, you started off your pregnancy in quarantine, and soon thereafter George Floyd was murdered for the world to see. What feelings did that tragedy spark for you as you carry your second son?
I’ve always been aware of how black men are treated in America, which made me fiercely protective over my husband, my husband is 6’3 and built, this is one of the scariest things in America because of his hue and size. In reality, he’s just a gentle giant. I imagine my first son, King, will follow suit as he is already a size 5 at the age of 3, to me it makes me proud. But that fear creeps in right behind that joy because the murders and the violence fueled by racism continue to pollute our country. Watching George Floyd, it was this cycle of repeated trauma as more and more video footage of what occurred was released. Ultimately I’m left with the question of…is this what America stands for?
We are taught to respect these men in uniforms, but what if they are terrorists? What if they are KKK? Is this what America is? We stand by witnessing with our own eyes people being slaughtered on the streets because a man in blue decided he was judge, jury, and executioner? Over an alleged counterfeit $20 bill during a pandemic? And then you come to understand this wasn’t just the ignorance of a single individual there was enough hate fueling at least 3 others! My stomach tensed. Hearing him cry out for his mother hurt my womb in a way that I can’t explain. I cried for weeks. Every time I looked at my stomach, my son, and my husband I’d instantly feel a wave of fear and anxiety wash over me because this traumatized me.
Pregnant women have been hit hard by this pandemic, Black people are dying at a higher rate because of this pandemic, and as if that weren’t enough, you also have multiple businesses to run and maintain during this pandemic. What has that journey been like?
I’m still trying to navigate how to feel like a good mother and protect my kids from the outside world. And on top of that, I still have to run these businesses I still have to maintain while inherently worried about my husband making it home each evening because that’s what it means to be a Black woman here. People don’t understand that. I still have to be great at business. I need to continue showing up for these interviews. I have to still make sure my music company is in demand, that my artists are being well treated, that my venue is booked and busy, that my nonprofit (Women with Voices) is still actively working to aid other women, all while pregnant in a pandemic. It’s been a lot. But that’s what it means to be a Black mother in this country.
It means that while you are crying because someone took a man in your life out of fear, crying because you’re scared about losing your life birthing one of these men, crying because you can’t share those first moments of the sonogram and learning the sex with your partner because of the pandemic, it’s facing all of those odds and striving to be great when you’re already looked at like the bottom of the barrel in work, education, in everything. Being a Black mother in America is making the best out of every situation in a world that is set up for you to lose, it’s about creating a legacy.
I always say, It’s not what they call you, it’s what you answer to, I’m as great as I’m going to be and I’m going to continue to excel in-depth to the levels that I see fit. I’m going to keep God and spirituality close because that’s the foundation that I come from that allows me to do these things, I don’t have all the answers but I do recognize the problems, and with that, I continue to strive for solutions for myself and my community.