rs ago, when I had my daughter it was via emergency c-section. 21 year old me, arrived at the hospital. I was hysterical, as the labor progressed my mom, dad, sister, and brother all filled the mid-size room with my fiancé, a nurse, me and a gut full of human.
Everyone taking, giving advice from the perspective they knew me best, and emoting how they saw fit.
It was chaos. It wasn’t long before that external chaos met me internally, both I and the baby were in distress.
Looking back, especially with the knowledge I have now of how especially vulnerable black mothers and their babies are, I am grateful that I’m here and able to write about it.
Even so, that shit was awful.
It did teach me some truly life changing things.
If taught me, I had grown accustomed to not being able to trust people to have or uphold their own boundaries. So often that I struggled to learn or advocate for my own.
It showed me that I had lived guessing what people really meant, and somehow had learned and practiced doing the same.
It allowed me to see just how much of my energy went to assuming what people really wanted, and figuring the best way I could act on those unseen variables without being told, or scolded.
Above all it revealed the role I played in this dizzying cycle of enmeshment, by expecting others to assume and live by the same behaviors I had. It suddenly made sense why I had been left to feel neglected when they didn’t play along or why I felt attacked when asked to be clear.
March came, two months from my due date, my doula and I had begun to prepare to give birth to my first son. My weekly trips to the doctor to make sure I and the baby were progressing were limited to just me. I’ve read stories of how lonely covid made pregnancy feel for other women, how it had ruined their pregnancies. I stand with them, this takes nothing from their experience, it just wasn’t mine.
I was alone and I liked it. The solo trips asked a little more from me, with nobody to occupy my mind or my thoughts I found myself sitting in solitude with every thought I had as just me. No advice, no guidance. How would I react when the contractions came, what would I need to feel safe. More questions, more answers, more decisions made from my own mind. Nobody judging, nobody correcting, just me.
When the time came, I had decided I would attempt a VBAC. A vaginal birth after previously having a c-section. There were risk, but my doctor was confident and as I was learning, I was too.
When the day came, my mother drove me to the delivery center, I said good-bye. I went to the intake room, alone. My partner called, to let me know he was on his way, I said ok. The nurse informed me that he wouldn’t be allowed in until I was actually admitted. For three hours, I was by myself, but I wasn’t alone. Someone else was with me.
A young girl. The young girl scared to be on her own, afraid to trust her internal knowing to do what was best for herself and baby. A young girl concerned about being in trouble, doing something wrong, or ending up out of her depth in a situation where she would need support and in turn receive punishment for needing it. A young girl who just needed to be shown how to accept and trust herself.
But even she wasn’t alone. She was holding the hand of a woman, this woman was unabashed in her self advocacy. This woman believed that assertiveness was more powerful that being small. She accepted what she knew of herself and trust what she knew. She had a weightiness to her presence that soothed the young girl, yet she didn’t laugh at the young girl for being there, she held her close and said, I see you too.
The day would go on, my partner would join me in labor, and I went on to give birth to a beautiful and healthy baby boy, vaginally.
They say two people are born the day a woman gives birth, the child and the mother.
On May 11th, 2020 I learned that to be true.