Last Updated on April 15, 2023 by BVN
Chloé Solorzano, 29, poses for a portrait with her husband, James Solorzano, 28, and their children Xolani, 1, Katileia, 5, Phoenix, 2, and James Liam, 7, at Shadow Rock Park in Jurupa Valley on April 5, 2023. Chloé is a doula and student midwife. Her husband James is a police officer at the Los Angeles Police Department. (Aryana Noroozi for Black Voice News / CatchLight Local)
April 11, 2023 through April 17, 2023 marks Black Maternal Health Week, a week-long campaign founded and organized by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance which is a Black women-led, cross-sectoral organization that centers Black mothers and birthing people.
The purpose of Black Maternal Health Week is to “build awareness, activism, and community-building to amplify the voices, perspectives and lived experiences of Black Mamas and birthing people.”
As news reports and data continue to reveal the rising rate of Black maternal mortality and inadequate treatment in hospital settings, this year’s theme for Black Maternal Health Week, “Our Bodies Belong to Us: Restoring Black Autonomy and Joy!”, seeks to shine a light on community-centered and cultural practices for maternal care delivered by Black midwives, full-spectrum doulas and other birth and maternal health workers.
In line with the theme of restoring Black autonomy and Joy and with the support of Inland Empire community-based doulas and midwives, the Black Voice News spoke with Black midwives, doulas and families in the area about the joys of parenting and serving their communities, how they hold on to joy while balancing obligations and what they hope for the future.
Meet the Solorzanos
“The definition of joy is watching them change and like [James] said, watching their personalities blossom. I know a lot of people are like ‘you need to have a personality outside of being a mom’ — well, I don’t. That is my joy: watching them change,” Chloé Solorzano, 29, explained while opening snacks for her children.
Chloé is a doula, a student midwife and a mom to seven-year-old James Liam, five-year-old Katileia, two-year-old Phoenix and one-year-old Xolani. As a doula and student midwife, Solorzano said she was called to this work to serve the Black community.
“That’s what I got into it for, to reduce Black maternal fatalities and just the discrimination and the malpractice and mistreatment that Black women or Black birthing people experience during pregnancy and labor or postpartum,” Chloé explained. “That’s what brought me to it, making a change in the Black community, [including] birthing Black babies into Black families.”
Similar to his wife, James Solorzano, 28, got into his profession to bring about change. James is a police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department.
“I feel like if you want to see change, you have to be part of the change,” James said on why he joined the police department. James shared that part of his joy in his profession comes from being out there and doing a profession that he’s proud of and that his kids can be proud of, too.
The Solorzanos find joy in parenting by watching their children change and grow each day. As Chloé and James shared their thoughts on parenting, their children sat beside them eating fruit and pan dulce on a blanket.
“They’re all different. They have their own personalities and it’s just fun to watch them grow and just be kids. [We’re] happy to be their parents and guide them in the right way,” James explained. While he said he doesn’t have an exact definition for joy, he has found a greater appreciation for life and spending time with his children.
“With the stuff that I see, I know how fast life can be taken away from us. So just every day, I would say, I appreciate it more, spending time with them [and] being a part of their lives. I know some people are not in their kids’ lives, but for us, I feel like every day it’s something new. It’s a joy to be able to spend time with them, help them learn and figure out who they are,” James said.
Chloé said it’s draining to be in midwifery school, to have four kids, to work and to engage in other things on the side. She explained that while being in school can be discouraging and being present in her kids’ lives can be draining, she never loses sight of the reward.
“Sometimes as an individual, it can be very draining, but knowing that I’m pouring into them and that in the future, they will be better for it. That’s rewarding, knowing the outcome will be becoming a midwife and really making the change in the future for them,” Chloé explained. “For us, it wasn’t that many people out there to help. Now, I feel like I get to be that help for those women. So, the future is what makes it rewarding, knowing that the more I sow into now, the more will come out in the future.”
Chloé offered some words of encouragement for other doulas and student midwives on how they can maintain joy while balancing other obligations in their lives. She recommended that birth workers remember why they went into this profession — “It’s not something you just stumble upon,” she said.
For parents, Chloé said they should constantly remind themselves that what they’re doing now will affect their children in the future.
“Deposit joy, deposit health and wealth and confidence in them and you’ll see it sow in the future,” Chloé commented.
The Solorzanos enjoy watching their kids’ personalities develop. While each child is unique, James said he sees himself in all of his children, all of the time. He said his daughter, Katileia, probably has the strongest personality, but Chloé joked that their one-year-old, Xolani, is “giving her a run for her money.”
Chloé and James hope to give their children opportunities that they didn’t have growing up. For James, he hopes to lay a strong foundation for his children and give them the tools for success. He said growing up, neither of his parents were in the household, but that’s already something he and Chloé are changing.
Chloé said she hopes for a more Black-friendly future for her children and that they have everything she didn’t have growing up like Black police officers and Black midwives.
Chloé hopes that she and her husband find joy in the things they choose to do and enjoy the fruits that they’ve planted with all of their hard work. She also finds her joy in parenting by teaching her children that “Black is beautiful,” while “raising Black kids in a not so Black world.”