“Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers ~ strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.”
– Barbara Katz Rothman
Birthing is unique and universal all at once. Societal norms, rituals and customs all play a large part in the birthing experience. I have read that in some cultures new mothers are “quarantined” which for them, essentially means the larger family gathers around and pitches in. The mother rests and regains her strength. The woman in her family surround her with love and support so that when the time comes, she is prepared for the task that lay ahead.
Ryan was easy to birth. At the time, cell phones were big clunky work phones so Scott and I decided, instead, to get a pager. If I thought labour was imminent then I was to page 911. Good solid plan. Thank goodness we didn’t have to use it. Although I will confess much to Scott’s grey hair, I did several practice runs.
Our beautiful baby boy was born, tiny and wrinkly. Scrawny and red faced. I held him for the first time and knew in that same moment, my life was forever changed. My capacity to love, cherish and protect was an inherent trait that suddenly manifested. The nurses swaddled Ryan with the intention to take him to be weighed, measured and bathed. Scott refused to allow them to take his son from his sight. He is the nicest guy but ever so stubborn. He reminds me of an oak tree, solid, majestic and proud but with roots that stretch deep beneath the earth.
Ryan never left his side.
I, on the other hand, am wheeled into my hospital room. A mother without a child. Waiting.
I suppose I can be honest, I don’t love waiting. 911 ……pause. 911…..pause. 911 …..insistent.
Scott comes back perplexed and worried. I am relieved and overjoyed. My son is with me. My family complete. Our lives to begin.
It was hard going. I never knew how hard it would be.
Trouble with feeding, sleepless nights, and a lifetime of adjustments. Scott’s mom and my mom worked. Auntie Doo is living in another city and we are the first of all our friends to have a child. What I would have given to be part of that matriarchal culture where such love and care was given.
But perhaps I didn’t need it then. That beautiful baby boy that I remember so well goes missing. I am, once again, a mother without a child. Waiting.
I am not alone, though. My family, my tribe surrounds me with love and support.
So that when the time comes, I will be prepared for the task that lies ahead.
What a culture we have created.