Strength comes in numbers
The other day I was attempting to cornrow my son's hair and boy is he tender headed. He was screaming and yelling, twitching and turning all of which was making me incredibly frustrated. Finally I asked him- sarcastically, if he wanted me to cry with him and to my surprise he said yes! So I began to make crying sounds and before I knew it, my son's tears turned into laughs. I finished his hair in record time and all because we "cried" together. This experience got me to thinking about the importance of support.
As a (stereo) typical Independent Black Woman I shudder at the thought of "needing" support. It actually makes me feel like I am weak. "I don't need anyone I can do it myself". This is natural for me, having come from a family predominately made up of single mothers. For me having a baby was no different. Prior to getting pregnant, I thought it would be all about me, but I learned that strength is definitely in numbers.
Before having my own children, my most familiar story of birth was my own. When my parents tell me the story of my birth, they say that when my mother was pregnant, they decided to have a natural birth. They took child birth classes and went to the hospital prepared to give birth naturally- or so they thought. Just as is the common practice in most hospitals today, upon admittance my mother was refused all solid foods. My father tells me that the nurses and doctors repeatedly asked my mother if she wanted to get the epidural anesthesia (seems not much has changed in 30 years), however they remained strong in their decision to have a natural birth.
At one point my father leaves the room and comes back "with onions on his breath" as my mom says with the "I know he didn't" voice. At that point my mother's labor became extremely uncomfortable, and right on cue the doctor asked again if she wanted to get the epidural. Only this time my mother says yes, and my father says no. When my father tries to override my mother the doctor snaps "I wasn't talking to you sir". Well as the story goes my mom got the epidural and that started a whole bunch of complications- but that's another story. The second time around my mother and father remained unified. My father says he starved with my mother and gave more hands on support. Needless to say my mom gave birth to my younger brother naturally.
As for me I found out that I wasn't as independent as I thought, at least not when it came to giving birth. As it turned out I needed lots of support; I had a challenging labor with my son and I leaned on everyone- my mom, grandmother, aunt, and my best friend. My rock though was my loving husband. He held me, comforted me and encouraged me, hands on steadily and consistently from start to finish. I could not have imagined what I would have done with out him.
When we go through difficult times with someone else, especially a loved one, the challenge doesn't seem so difficult. This is especially true for labor and birth. Having support can really mean the difference between an unbearable experience and a beautiful birth experience. So when you are planning the birth of your next child, consider taking a couples course- that trains both the mother and her support partner (the dad, grandmother, girlfriend etc.) to be prepared for labor and birth. Also consider hiring a Doula to come with her bag of tricks for professional support.